I received a great quote in my email this morning by Sir Alexander Paterson: “When a man is sufficiently motivated, discipline will take care of itself.” Wow, I thought, here is the answer to my lack-luster performance! I will finally be able to quit swearing, lose weight, keep my side of the bedroom clean, not let clutter accumulate on my dining room table, my dresser, my car and my purse. I will finally be able to motivate my children to do their homework, pursue hobbies instead of constantly FaceBooking, keep their room clean and be nice to each other. Perfect life, here I come!
That is when it dawned on me that for some people just the thought of doing the right thing is enough motivation. They reason that life is much easier, more fulfilling and less stressful if they simply do what they know they are supposed to do. But for others, like myself and my children, it seems like a headache to do all that stuff. So, we decide to procrastinate because it seems easier in spite of the often negative consequences. We reason that by putting off today what can easily be done tomorrow (or the next day or the next day or next week or next month…) we’ll be happier in the long run. Even we are not convinced by this logic and yet…our behavior speaks for itself.
Meanwhile, I am procrastinating on my work to contemplate how best to motivate slackers like myself and my children. Money is the obvious answer and yet who can afford the pay-out required to get us on track? We could target some specific behaviors, however, judging from times past, money will get tight and then the “allowance” goes out the window.
We’ve also grounded them from the computer, TV, cell phones and Wii. That has actually been pretty effective in the past but as motivation is an on-going struggle, grounding constantly seems unrealistic. Besides, I’d also have to be setting a good example, and so far I’m just as guilty as they are.
In thinking about this it occurs to me that while our environment exerts pressures to help guide our behavior, the question of motivation that outlasts the hurdles encountered when changing significantly is really one that boils down to our own internal thoughts, will and emotions. George Bernard Shaw said, “Imagination is the beginning of creation: you imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last you create what you will.” The control clearly lies within us.
Which brings me back to the dilemma of how to desire doing the right thing when most of the time I don’t. Perhaps I should just follow the advice of Mssrs. Marcus Buckingham and Curtis Coffman in their management book, “Now, Break All the Rules.” They argue that people don’t really change all that much and when we do, the way our brains work constantly nudges us back to the way we were before. The true path they say is to focus on improving your strengths and build your success from there and just forget about all those rotten old faults.
Which leads me to the conclusion that when you go searching for the hard answers in life you end up getting a lot of difficult-to-digest answers.