Now, I’m certainly not saying motivation is a bad thing – of course not. But let’s face it, it’s 3 am, you had a long day, you have a family, a demanding job, and about a million other things pressing on your mind; self-motivating isn’t going to work in this type of situation – at least not for the long-term, that is.
The truth is, not matter how many Gary Vaynerchuk videos you listen to, or how much pump-up music you blast through your headphones, 3 am is late, 5 am is early, and a warm bed will always feel like the place you should be. You see, motivation is great, but it’s not sustainable long-term. Why? Motivation is about lighting a fire under you, but dedication is about igniting a sustaining fire within you. Think of both as races with motivation being a sprint and dedication being a marathon.
Responsibility > Motivation
As a man, when you are young and coming up there’s a lot of talk about responsibility and this can often scare a young adult male. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned as I have grown up, it’s that more responsibility is synonymous with more opportunity. The more I have taken on, the more I have learned. Plain and simply; lifting a heavy load helps you grow in character. So while motivation is fun, and the feeling of getting hopped up before a sporting event is exhilarating, that feeling will come and go. And you know what? This is fine when it comes to something like sports, but it’s not okay when it comes to something like a career or growing a family. The peaks and troughs are too much and those high highs and low lows can create a life dialog that is tough to come back from at times when the momentum shifts direction.
I believe now that added responsibility, once accepted, helps center us and inspire us about the future, And because our accomplishments can directly benefit the people around us, we start living like we’re responsible for more than merely ourselves even if we thought we were selfless or merely not selfish previously, it is only when we accept this new responsibility that we can truly learn what the difference is.
Strive to Learn
I’ve found it extremely helpful to try to view the work before me as a learning experience. Life is busy, there’s no way around it, and sometimes the things ahead can seem pretty daunting. Fortunately at some point in my early adult life, coinciding with my father’s passing, I began viewing everything in life as a way to gain more wisdom. I no longer had this trusted sage to pass down wisdom so I had to go out and seek it. Only when I began this change of approach did I realize just how much knowledge I lacked. And more than that, how besides through direct tutelage I had only really learned previously by making mistakes. It was during this epiphany that I came to the conclusion that I was so far behind and so far from where I wanted to be that I just had to simply get going and start to chip away at all the learning I needed to fuel the knowledge I sought. And so rather than get bogged down in the hole I felt stuck in, I began to think of life as a marathon and not a race. And while I still believe (before and after my epiphany) that this life is a blip in the internal life path, I do hope it is a long race, one of which pursuing that which is expedient instead of that which is meaningful is no way I want to spend my time.
Here’s the true moral of this story (or blog), dedication gives us a future-focused mindset. It tells us to sacrifice in the moment so that our future selves can be happier. It tells us that doing what we don’t want to now is what helps solidify a life we desire. It tells us that overnight sensations take years to create.
But you know what? I see firsthand the fruits of many of my younger labors, including setbacks, and it’s encouraging me to continue down this path of meaning and purpose.
It’s encouraging me to strive for more, and it’s inspiring me to rest in the craziness of a chaotic world.
Well, these are just some of my ramblings as of late, but it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about, so hopefully, it meets you where you’re at.