Motivation, Staying Power, and Why We Get It Wrong

I swear, I had a plan for today’s post.  I had a plan for today.  Unfortunately, no left over Olive Garden awaited me after today’s walk, and Jenny made me stretch.  Okay, I made me stretch, but I asked her to Hangout with me on Google, because, well, there are some things I’m bad at sticking to without help.  I finally got up the energy to shower, and now I have a trusty Pepsi at my side, so on to today’s post.

Actually, I spent part of this morning trying to find a good image for the concept of motivation, only to realize most of them end up being cheesy, Instagram yoga #fitspiration type pics, which I frankly find repulsive, not because there’s anything aesthetically wrong with them but because they are, frankly, only helpful to a small slice of people.

It goes back to definitions, a lesson I learned yet again on Wednesday.  We throw around words rather carelessly in today’s world, especially when it comes to splice butchered hashtags.  I mean really?  FITspiration?  Sure.

But I digress.  When I say it goes back to definitions, here’s what I mean.  For those not writerly nerd types like me, tune out for this paragraph.  Most people use the connotative definition.  This definition varies, is contextual, and can get really, really vague.  It’s part of the reason that, until Wednesday, I actually had the cajones to tell people I don’t believe in motivation.  I’m getting ahead of myself.  The other definition is the denotative.  This is the definition found in the dictionary.

To give a stark demonstration of the difference, take the word nonplussed (which I must now go back and change in a few places in my drafts, thanks random internet quiz.)  I understood it to mean unimpressed, as I’d both heard and read it used that way contextually.  If you look it up in, let’s say, Oxford English Dictionary, it actually means surprised, confused, and unsure how to react, which is not the same at all, though it can prompt a similar expression on your face.

Can’t tell if doesn’t care or disgusted…

Basically, I stuck with the idea that I know what I want, and I know I need to work to get it.  Well, turns out, that’s exactly what motivation is.  If you look it up in the dictionary, and not through some motivation speaker.  Huge shout out thanks to my therapist for that.  Yes, I see a therapist.  It’s also a big reason why attempting to motivate people doesn’t always turn out the way we think it will.  Example?  I’m not motivated by corporate success.  At. Freaking. All.  I am, however, motivated by a great desire to see the things I imagine in my mind come to life.

That semester I talked about yesterday?  That’s the first time I really felt it happen.  The first time in my life an idea I had truly bore fruit before my eyes in any lasting way.  And it started with crazy simple actions.

I mentioned Jenny’s feet, and how the first time I saw them, they scared me?  Well, I offer to just start moving them a little for her every day, careful not to go to far, as I was in no way a trained professional, but at least up and down a few times every night, the way we all move our feet when we walk.  In a week, the purple was gone, replaced by red.  In another two, her feet simply looked like normal colored feet.  Somewhere in there, we also realized she could feel more than they knew.  After all, what’s the point of tickling someone who can’t feel it?

Yet she insisted that’s exactly what I was doing.  Tickling her.  I wracked my brain for an answer, and the only one we could come up with was that she was, in fact, feeling something inside her ankle move when I moved her foot.  That gave us hope to keep going, and by the end of that semester, she was leg pressing 125 pounds.  That may not sound like much to most people, but for someone who started at 25 pounds in January, was still barely carrying 30 consistently in early March, and capped 125 by the time I left half way through May?

That’s something.

That’s staying power.  That’s commitment.  That’s a dream with the power to change those around you, and she did.  I’ve heard so many people talk about “finding your passion” and “living your dream,” but most of them seem to be talking about the big house, the sick car, the tricked bike, or the “lifestyle.”  That’s all great, but when all you know of the lifestyle is that some people have millions in the bank, and Instagram is full of the rich and pseudo-famous, it’s not real.

It’s not real.  There, I said it.

How can we begin to truly dream when something isn’t real?  Walking is an everyday reality that Jenny could feel on an instinctive level she was missing.  Honestly.  Being denied a standing wheelchair by insurance because some person decided that “standing is a luxury”?  I stand every day.  I used to stand several hours out of every day working fast food.  The vast majority of us, barring injury or birth defect, stand up every day of our lives, and some person, who probably proceeded to stand up at their next break and get coffee, decided that this basic function we take for granted that allows us to reach top cupboards is a luxury??


Back to my point.  She spends every. single. day surrounded by people who stand and walk and complain about it and take it for granted.  And at that point, she couldn’t even stand under her own power even aided by a walker.  She couldn’t hold herself up for thirty seconds.  Surrounded by people who could.  People she could reach out and touch.  Walking was real to her.

Those #fitspiration poses and motivational Attitude = Altitude posters, and photos of fast cars and big houses don’t do anything.  So find a passion you can see, feel, taste, touch, and experience.  I can experience my writing.  I know what it feels like to get up and write 2000 words in a day and feel incredible about it, or feel useless about it.

I’ll go into more tomorrow, but if you take anything away from this post, take this.

No one can dream for you.

No dream is worth a raw cent that you cannot truly feel burning into your core or reach out and touch the reality of.

Motivation is personal.  Always will be.  Let’s keep it that way.

Oh, PS.  I need some help from those of you who do keep up with my blog.  Jenny and I have teamed up once again, and in five years, I’m pulling her through a Half Iron Man.  Yes, it’s crazy.  Yes, it’s going to be hard.  And yes, I might go nuts.  But with your help, I also might not.

Anyway, what do you think?  What keeps you pursuing your dreams?  What really gets under your skin about the latest inspirational fads?  Let me know in the comments.  Peace!

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