I was reflecting the other day over my life choices. Funny how things align in life in the most unexpected ways. I then thought how motivation and choices are tightly intertwined but no one ever talks about it. How motivation is the engine while choices are the drive. Without either surely something will fail down the road of life. First what I thought of was what was behind my motivation.
I have always been the type of person where I would fight for what I wanted, no matter how ginormous, arduous and sometimes ridiculous the challenge ahead was. But it came from particular people and situations that I had gone through – down to my earliest memories.
I grew up in household with various situations and events that arose (like everyone in life, let’s not get too sap-happy here) but I did always have a hot meal, clean clothes, and the support of the most important people in my life. I remember fondly my grandfather telling me how education furthered his own stance on society and to not just take an easy route to a mediocre result. The one story he would always tell would be about how he decided to embark on a life long journey to become a dentist (not kidding about the life long part either).
Around elementary schooling age he remembered a man who would walk around his neighborhood and the local meat market our family owned with extraordinary shoes, polished black, shiny calf leather. Infatuated, my grandfather determined that if he would ever be able to wear shoes like that he would have to be an educated dentist. Though he dropped out of high school to fight in the military, once he came back he picked right up where he had left off. I remember him telling me he would work odd jobs here and there to support himself and his family, but he always made time to take a class here and there. He was a dock boy, a lab tech, a science teacher, and then finally a dentist mid life.
Growing up around someone as driven as he was is what motivated me. But I still have my own path. I was never going to be a dentist nor be in the medical field, his life was my inspiration and simply was that. Hard work can only get you so far these days unlike in the past – your choices are what really set you up for success. Knowing this I made some strategic choices (being dramatic but you get my point). Now that I narrowed down what is my motivation, I reflected on the choices I have made.
I researched for what colleges like to see on an application and what they award scholarships on. So I made some choices – taking AP (advanced placement aka college credit) when available and knowing that I would pass the class, taking a foreign language for all 4 years of high school, focusing on a particular talent (Art) and exploiting that, participating in a sport (well until I took a nice tumble and ended up with a concussion), as well as joining after school clubs. These choices lead to scholarships that really helped lesson the burden on student loans and the eventual stress that came with them.
The point is that motivation is not enough, sure if the drive is there then success is almost on the horizon but that’s not all. Using motivation as the driver behind choices for that end goal will lead to absolute success. Sure I didn’t have an end goal (such as being a dentist) but I did have person goals that I wanted to achieve such as getting an education without being hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and being financially secure (stemming from my childhood of insecurity). Motivation is the heart that pumps life into your goals while choices is the mind carefully mitigating the risks and maximizing the results.
At points that motivation wasn’t there when I had some major lows in my life, but I quickly tried to rebalance. What I found the most helpful was reflecting on the following:
- What truly motivates me?
- How have those people or events made me feel?
- Is there a lesson to be learned?
Once you identify the route of your motivation then you can reflect on the following:
- What can I do to get to what I want?
- What are the choices that potentially lie ahead and am I prepared for them?
- How do I create more success?
By identifying the relationship between motivation and choices you can hone in on that power and use it to better your life – of course there will be some elbow grease involved but you should always be conscious and aware of what can put you ahead in life.