2015 has been a strange year.
I won’t get into all the details, but at different times throughout the last 8 months, Pam and I have each struggled with depression and motivation. We’ve both been through fairly long seasons of feeling incapable of doing all the things we want to do.
While I know there are many, MANY factors at play, and everyone is different, I wanted to share some things that have worked for me.
Before I begin, though, I have to say that a huge part of why some people lose motivation has to do with chemical imbalance or other psychological or physiological problems. There is absolutely a need for medical intervention if the problem gets to a point where you can’t function.
But once you get back to “functional,” what then?
One Motivated Dude
I’ve changed over the years. Mostly for good, I think.
I used to be obsessed with work. Workaholic is a good word for it. I was motivated, hard-working, obsessed. I derived much of my self-worth from how I was doing, how well I was performing, how much money I was making.
It’s a slippery slope. As soon as I would reach one milestone, I would celebrate for about 8 seconds, then focus my attention on the next milestone…and the next…and the next. I would have a big breakthrough or a successful product launch, and I would be bummed out, because it wasn’t “bigger.”
Slowly I came to realize how unhealthy it all was. As a friend of mine says, “If the grass seems greener on the other side, water your damn lawn.”
There will always be someone better than me, taller than me, thinner than me, stronger than me, better-looking than me, more talented than me, wealthier than me, more engaging than me… If my self-worth is wrapped up in beating that person and being “number one,” I’ll never be happy.
So a big part of finding my motivation was digging deeper into the WHY.
Why do I do what I do?
Why did I start Home Studio Corner?
Why do I make music?
Why did I marry my wife and have kids?
The more connected I am with the REAL reasons why I do the things that I do, the easier it is for me to become content with who I am and be motivated to reach my potential.
Seth Godin wrote this on his blog recently:
“Just because a thing can be noticed, or compared, or fretted over doesn’t mean it’s important, or even relevant.
Better, I think, to decide what’s important, what needs to change, what’s worth accomplishing. And then ignore all comparisons that don’t relate. The most important comparison, in fact, is comparing your work to what you’re capable of.”
I feel the most healthy, and the most motivated, when I’m comparing who I am with who I believe I can be. When I’m striving to be the man I was designed to be, to reach my own potential, I experience joy even in the midst of struggle. A failure doesn’t define me, it’s just another stepping stone on the way to becoming a better version of myself.
“What if you let yourself down? What if you don’t reach your potential?” some might ask. It’s a fair question.
As corny as it may sound, I think a lot of it comes down to goals. What are your goals for your life? I’m not talking about the goals you think you should have, the goals other people want for you. What are YOUR goals? What do YOU want most?
When I’m pursuing goals that are uniquely mine, I’m in line with who I was uniquely made to be. Even if I never hit those goals, even if I never fully reach that potential, I will be a more content, joyful person while I am pursuing them.
For example, I’ve recently been thinking through setting some pretty lofty financial goals for me and my family. They’re big goals, ambitious goals. But I also feel like they line up with what’s most important to us, and the amount of impact we could have on our family, friends, and the world if we reached those goals.
But what if I never get there? Will I be a failure? Of course not. Part of being the man I was made to be is pursuing the goals I was made to pursue. That’s where life happens. Whether I hit my goals or not, if my goals align with my deeper purpose for life, I will be living the best life I can live while I pursue them.
Besides, let’s say you set a goal to make $1 million. What if you missed it by fifty percent? Then you would have “only” made $500,000. Falling short of a massive goal is still a big fat WIN.
But of course, this is about more than money. This about the deeper core desires we each have, a desire for meaning, for purpose, to leave a legacy. And especially for us home studio owners, a desire to create something beautiful.
If you align your goals with things like this, it’s hard to remain unmotivated for very long. There’s lots of work to do, and it’s not the kind of work you feel like you “should” be doing.
It’s work you were made to do.