What’s your motivation?

“High fives all around!” shouted Al. “We’ve set a new office record!” Years ago, I worked for a media company that conducted regular fire drills. I had volunteered to join the health and safety committee, and Al, one of the department heads, was our team leader. Fire drills were our responsibility, and our goal was to get everybody out of the building in five minutes.

“A champion needs a motivation above and beyond winning.”

— Pat Riley, former coach and player in the NBA

“High fives all around!” shouted Al. “We’ve set a new office record!”

Years ago, I worked for a media company that conducted regular fire drills. I had volunteered to join the health and safety committee, and Al, one of the department heads, was our team leader. Fire drills were our responsibility, and our goal was to get everybody out of the building in five minutes.

The building was large and our offices were scattered across the second floor. On this particular day the drill happened without warning, but we had everybody out of the building, together and accounted for in just over four minutes.

We were mighty proud of this achievement until someone decided to time how quickly the office emptied at five o’clock on a Friday — just under four minutes.

I don’t know about you but when I’m feeling motivated, I work faster and more efficiently, and I have a more confident expectation of good things to come. I have a purpose and it drives me to achieve my goals in the most efficient way possible.

Motivation is what causes us to act, whether it is getting up in the night to visit the bathroom or taking a course to learn something new. In everyday usage, the term is often used to describe why a person does something.

When it comes to personal change — such as self-esteem building — the challenge is often to stay motivated. If one is properly motivated then one will — as a consequence — generally have the drive and willingness to act. Also the ability to forestall gratification is important — to be OK with feeling good or better at a later time.

It helps to have a clear idea of what you hope to accomplish and an answer to the question, “’Why am I doing this?” Answering that question honestly can provide you with tremendous clarity and focus.

Motivation can be internal (intrinsic) or external (extrinsic).

When it comes to self-esteem building, your motivation will be — for the most part — internal/intrinsic, as personal development is an inside job.

Internal motivation means you are driven by a sense of purpose: knowing and acknowledging why you want to do something.

With regard to self-esteem building those rewards might include feeling worthy and deserving of happiness and success, having the courage to stand up for yourself or breaking free from debilitating habits.

External motivation is when people choose a particular course of action for reasons external to, or outside of, themselves, such as pleasing others, salary, promotion, praise or punishment.

Though a strong motivator, external motivation is seldom strong enough to sustain long-term effort when it comes to self-esteem building.

If you’re ready to make it happen, here are a few ideas to get you motivated.

Find your purpose.

Ask yourself, “What do I want my life to look like?”

Then seriously consider what your life will look like if you continue along the same path you’re travelling now. Spend some time pondering these two points. Contrast the two outcomes.

Ignite your desire. I’m willing to wager that you’re reading this column because you have the desire to bring about positive change in your life. Congratulations! Go for it! Desire is a great motivator.

See this moment as the first step on your new path.

Make room for change.

Nothing will ever change until you make room for it. Don’t sit around waiting for change to occur — get out there make it happen! Schedule time for change.

That can be time for reading empowering books, watching inspiring videos, listening to enlightening conversations. Clear away the clutter. When you make room for change, it’s amazing how energized and motivated you can become.

Start networking.

The best way to initiate change and stay motivated is to spend time with people who share your passion for self-improvement.

Find a few folks online or join a local self-esteem group.

If there’s no group in your area then consider starting one.

Create a support network and then commit to holding each other accountable.

Take action now. An ocean liner doesn’t turn on a dime. Change takes time. Start with small action steps and slowly work your way up to bigger challenges.

The most important thing is that you start and start now. Movement brings forth movement. Take one step and then another. This is how change is initiated.

This is how motivation is created and how momentum is sustained. Get up.

Get going.

Do it now!

If you find the idea of getting motivated toward the pursuit of a new goal frightening, overwhelming or even a little confusing, you’re not alone. It’s no different than attempting anything that’s new or out of your comfort zone.

Achievement comes with persistence: a willingness to stick to it and keep moving forward.

Living a life filled with joy, passion and purpose is far preferable to a life of fear, despair and regret.

There’s an old saying: “What is expected tends to be realized.”

Ultimately, what we shall accomplish over our lifetime is limited only by our desire and the motivation we have to achieve something worthwhile. Without it, there will be no high fives for our achievements — only the longing for what might have been.

Murray Fuhrer is a self-esteem expert and facilitator. His recent book is entitled Extreme Esteem: The Four Factors. For more information on self-esteem, check the Extreme Esteem website at www.extremeesteem.ca.

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