The Best Motivator (it’s internal)

Good morning!

As I’m writing this, I’m sipping on a warm cup o’ joe at my desk. I often wonder what my readers are doing when they’re reading these blog posts (or surfing the net). This got me thinking about my own habit web-surfing and spending countless hours watching YouTube videos ranging from Dogs 101 to how-to guides on tying a fishing rig. Here we go.

I’ve just finished Hyrum W. Smith’s book titled “The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management” on my Kindle (basically my iPhone). This book wasn’t anything game changing per se, but it definitely reinforced my habit of daily planning and reflecting on how I performed each day. The biggest takeaway I received from this book was Smith’s note on the greatest motivator. This motivator is purely internal as nothing can drive someone to perform and complete a task. Sure, if I was working a cash register and someone pointed a gun at my head and instructed me to give them the money, I would be extremely motivated to give them the money and get out of the situation unscathed. However, some would argue that this motivation was external. The bottom line is that this is purely internal. If I didn’t comply, I was clearly unmotivated to complete the task and I would likely be shot or maimed. This is the motivation: stress.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “J, why didn’t you just tell us the ‘greatest motivation’ in the first sentence?”. I wanted to get a point across that stress truly is the greatest INTERNAL motivator and is much more effective than two external motivators (fear and duty). Even further down the rabbit hole we go…

Flashback to my sophomore year of college. I was addicted to video games. No matter what kind of ‘breaks’ I would take, I would easily relapse unless I went the nuclear option of removing any and all kinds of video games from my life—moderation wasn’t an option. By spending all of my time playing these games, my social life and academic life took a major hit. By the start of my junior year, I was placed under academic probation. If you don’t know what this means, I had a GPA of 2.0 or less in my previous semester. This was huge. Not only did I screw up the one thing I was at school for (to score high, get results, and graduate), I was spending all of my time on the wrong things simply due to a lack of motivation. My thought process became:

FUN > Obligations

Have you ever run into something like this? Where fun took precedence over things that should get done, but you just don’t want to do it? I’ll bet it’s happened at least once 😉.

At this point in my college career, if I failed to score ABOVE a 2.0 semester GPA, I would be promptly kicked out of the university and I’d regret my decisions forever. What changed? I was enrolled in my school’s Academic Probation Recovery course which helped students in this situation get an easy ‘A’ to boost their GPA while teaching them proven methods to get out of the hole. I took this class VERY seriously. Not only did I score an ‘A’ (wow, what an achievement!), I was able to pull much better grades throughout my other courses and finished with a 3.4 semester GPA. Unreal. I was able to pull this off because of the stress that built up in my life. During this semester, I was fighting a light case of pneumonia and was bed ridden for a week. In conjunction with the looming possibility that I would get kicked out and my sickness, I was feeling helpless during the whole situation. But I thought and reflected. I was sick and tired of being a below average student and never wanted to be back in that state again. Never again. That stress—although nearly debilitating, helped me to get my shit together and finish the semester with a 3.4 GPA. I dominated that semester. Now, I hope none of you have ever been in this situation as this was one of my worst experiences. However, this also turned me into a determined worker and made me better in nearly every way. I dropped my habit of playing video games. I stopped needlessly surfing the internet (for the most part) and began to plan out every day (using my long-term goals as a guide).

Now, I’m facing new challenges that aren’t just limited to academics. I’m working full-time at a local firm and I’m given the ability to work from home. Very quickly I found this freedom to be a vice as I would find myself waking up whenever I wanted instead of starting my day at the same time as a desk job. To combat this, I set aggressive goals with aggressive timelines. Instead of waking up and being groggy by 8am, I go to sleep between 10:30 and 11PM every night and wake up at 6am every day. I then execute my morning routine (shout out to Peter Voogd for this). The stress to get work done and to fit all activities I want to complete in a day is so huge that I’m forced to plan out my day every morning. I’ve found that I’ve gotten so much more work done and I’m getting recognition for it from the higher ups. Even greater than that, I’m lifting 6 times a week and getting huge GAINS (just had to throw that out there). I know some of my friends hate lifting, but even just some exercise can go a long way. But that’s for another post.

To recap:

Stress is the ultimate INTERNAL motivator. While our stress may come from external sources, we create our own stress and will act on it. It’s human nature to act on it. If it’s important enough to us, we can get it done.

I wish you the best of luck and hope you have a fantastic day!

J.