Friday, April 4, 2014

Journal day: what motivates me

I'm catching up on journal days... this prompt, courtesy of Danielle at Sometimes Sweet, is about what motivates us. This is a tough subject for me, and I don't think it's an accident that this prompt follows one about our biggest challenges.

If you've read my blog over the years, you know that my challenges and my motivators kick my butt on occasion. I don't live up to my own potential, and I frequently make and fail-to-keep lofty goals. Both of which conspire to kick off a ridiculously unhealthy cycle of self-doubt, personal criticism, and then months upon months of me ignoring every single thing that makes me feel better about myself.

My biggest motivator, much like my daily challenge, changes as I evolve as a person. Once upon a time, I was most motivated by a need to instill a sense of normalcy in my life. If I got up and went to work and put gas in the car, life was ordered and I was fine. For many years after Colin died, I was motivated by a need to claw my way back to not feeling so bad all day every day. I didn't really want to be successful, and I didn't truly care about developing myself. I knew I was supposed to though, so I worked at the things that made me appear normal.

Eventually I was fine, and then I was motivated each day out of habit; because I'd been doing it so many days in a row I just kept on doing it. It was easy to go through the motions and not think about it, not dig too deeply about why I was going about life in any particular way. That is an empty motivator though, and it left me with a sense that something was missing – not right away, of course. I wasn’t quite evolved enough to detect that feeling of emptiness. I had lived with it for so long it became a part of me, and a part of the “life” I was living.

For many years my career motivated me - it was the reason I got out of bed, and worked so hard, and improved my knowledge and education. It was what made me feel important, and special, and unique. I've recently gone through a job transition and that forced me to acknowledge that I had wrapped up my sense of Self in my career. My sense of importance was tied to something external and, it turns out, something that can be so abruptly and rudely taken away. I had no idea that I was so motivated by that thing, and that I had so little control over it, until I was stripped of it.

One lesson I have learned over and over is that we do our best growing when life is hard. I have learned very little from my joys and my triumphs, to be perfectly honest. I need those things certainly - they're the reward for the hard work and the effort. But my true development comes out of my devastation; it comes from working through hardship, or from having my sense of Self ripped away from me. That happened first with Colin, then it happened with my job. The pattern, of course, is that I put the emphasis for me on something (or someone) else. Now that I've learned that particular lesson well and full, I expect to never have to go through it again. Are you listening, God? I did very good learning here, so I'm done, right? I'm ready to be done with that one...

Now, my spirituality motivates me. Making the most out of every day, or at least trying to: seeing each new day as an opportunity to grow and learn, and become the best version of myself possible. To be more loving and more productive and learn more about the Gospel; to photograph the world and write amazing stories about life. To share my heart and my soul with those around me. That's what gets one foot in front of the other these days.

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