• Motivate that

    Recently I've been thinking about some of the issues that underlined 26 marathons in 26 days. In particular I've been thinking about motivation.

    Changes at home have led me to question everything I thought I knew about my life and myself. I feel as though I've been living in a cliche, except I thought cliches were bland and all-encompassing. I didn't imagine how painful a cliche can be, or how much it can strip you of the impulse to just breathe.

    I've found my ability to motivate myself has plummeted, initially this was because I couldn't face spending too much time alone, so running for miles on end was out of the question. But the battle between the different parts of your brain (personality/soul/mind) is fascinating. One part really wants to do something, but it is in opposition with another very loud part that really doesn't want to do anything. Sometimes it is the part that shouts the loudest who gets their own way. But what is it that gives one more volume than another - or what is it that allows you to drown out the part you don't want to hear? How much control do we have over the volume?

    Type "how do we motivate ourselves?" into Google and a myriad of suggestions pop up. Most of them seem to agree that you need to think positively, make a plan of action, track progress and reward yourself. Rather than thinking what you don't want, think about what you do want. Know what you want and create an achievable plan to get it. Reward yourself for small achievements along the way. Basically act like a cunning spoiled child: what do I want, and how do I get it? And then when I do get what I want, I'm going to reward myself too. The assumption is that we have a desire to improve ourselves, lose weight, be financially secure, be more active. And perhaps inherently we do. Isn't that what the Amercian Dream is based on? But what happens when you are in such a funk that there are no grand aspirations to improve yourself, and from the minute you struggle out of bed in the morning (if you can even do that) the only thing that gets you through the day is the ability to get back into bed at the end of it.

    I wonder if the key to motivation is not necessarily the desire or will to do grand things, sometimes it can be as simple as the need to get through things. As Arthur Ashe says: "start where you are, use what you have, do what you can". I have to keep going: I have children who need to be looked after, who deserve to be actively loved, who I love more than words can ever say; I have a supportive and loving family; I have loyal, funny and beautiful friends. So maybe it's about looking around you, and not just seeing what you have, but appreciating what you have. One of the only certainties in life is that we will die and things will change. We need to appreciate the moment we are in because that is the only concrete thing we have. And even if that moment is horrendous, it will still pass, and the survival of that moment gives us the strength to get through the next and the next and the next, until we can begin to appreciate the beauty around us.

    Motivation isn't something you can touch or hold onto, it isn't tangible and it certainly doesn't last. It has an ebb and flow. Sometimes it teases you and at other times it can power you to the top of a mountain. There is no one definitive answer to what motivates you, it is as personal as your fingerprint. Of course there are universal truths and generalisations, but at the core of it, you have your own personal blueprint on how to motivate yourself. You just have to find it.

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