July 28, 2009
It was a sweltering day, 15 years ago. Alone on a steep hill, I climbed. But just as fast as the sweat pored off my skin, guilt was drowning my mind. With a budding career weighing on my shoulders, I asked myself, why am I out here? And just like that, I succumbed.
Motivation. Sometimes you have it, sometimes you don’t. It’s the reason we keep going, through thick and thin, fatigue and frustration. It's how we overcome life's many challenges. Motivation comes to us in different forms and from different places. It is intellectual and emotional. It is in our head and in our hearts. Without it, we are hapless souls, trudging in and out of life's bland encounters. With it we are colorful players on the field, ready to take on the greatest opponents our minds can throw at us.
But where does it come from? Motivation. Are we born with an innate supply of it? Do we learn to "become" motivated through life's experience? This may well be forever unknown. What is known, however, is that motivation comes in different forms. Intellectual motivation, for example, is different than emotional motivation.
Like everything linked to the mind, intellectual motivation comes to us through rational thought. The desire to win trophies, gain kudos from friends and peers, or to be "known" as an athlete. These are all intellectual "motives" to which we often succumb. They are motives of the ego. But are these motives long lasting? Will they get you though the most grueling and challenging times? Unfortunately, they will not. Just like sugar, they'll leave you high one moment, and low the next.
Emotional motivation is different. It runs through your body. It comes from your gut, enters the spine, then without warning seeps through your skin. Before you recognize it, it will give you goose bumps. Wherever its starts and ends, you can feel it. And what's best, it doesn't even have to make sense!
What I've learned is that, unless I can really feel the motivation to do something big, I'm better off not even attempting to do it. The fact is I've been motivated by my ego to beat my marathon PR that has stood for 16 years, but I am yet to feel that I can do it. Can I still do it at 46? I'm still waiting for the goose bumps. And should they come, my ego will be anxiously waiting.