I look around and all I see are things that I need to do. Clutter everywhere, dishes to do, laundry to hang, dinner to prep or more greasy take-out and yet another stomach ache? It’s overwhelming and I’m not feeling motivated at all! So today I’m on a quest to find what motivates us…
Motivation is something I’ve struggled with my whole life. The irony of my life is that leadership is dependent on motivating others. How do I motivate my community to advocate for children with autism and special needs? Some days it seems it would be easier to quit fighting the system and just surrender to the need for homeschooling. Wouldn’t it be less work to just do it all myself?
My son is in constant need of motivation to communicate and practice self-help skills. His disabilities make communication and independence difficult. He often sighs when prompted to communicate. I sing his favorite songs to motivate him to climb the stairs. I bribe him with the iPhone or the iPad. Anything to get out of carrying a 50-something pound 7-year-old up 2 flights of stairs. I broke my leg carrying him up the stairs 4 years ago. The surgeon accidentally put a weather rod in my leg to repair the broken bone. I no longer need to watch the weather channel.
Yesterday I tipped the scales – I’m more overweight than ever. I promised myself years ago, that I would never let it get this bad. I’ve procrastinated taking care of my health for a long time now. Weight-loss should be a priority, but it seems I can always find something more important to do (or some way of getting out of something I’m just not motivated to do.)
My hubby is getting messier than ever. I feel like I live with wild animals, it’s a pissing contest to mark my territory. It takes me 30 minutes to adjust the seat in my car after he drives. Without fail, he adjusts all 5 settings to his 6’4″ frame. Who changed the preset favorite radio stations? Not Me.
My son has his spot at the end of a large cluttered dining room table. It’s a space as big as a place mat, and the clutter creeps in like weeds in a garden. I laugh at my son’s antics. He knows how to keep his personal space organized. My hubby sets his extra-large coffee cup in our son’s spot at the table (because he hasn’t managed to keep a space big enough for a coffee cup clear in his own space at the table.) My son comes along and knocks over the coffee cup the moment he sees it. Now, I could be angry because I need to clear off the table to wipe up the extra-large coffee spill. Papers are all wet and stuck together. There’s coffee on everything and it’s dribbling down to the floor.
I’m not mad at all. I’m proud of my son’s ability to defend his autonomy against his alpha male, father. Watch out Daddy! The next alpha male is emerging. He doesn’t like clutter!
My hubby is adamant that it’s not all his mess, but truth be told, organizing is difficult when I spend so much time and energy picking up after everyone else! I dream of a feng shui home, an organized space, to maximize the flow of positive energy.
My home is anything but feng shui! Who left clothes on the floor not 10 feet from the laundry basket?
So how do I get from where I am to where I want to be?
I’ve done my research, and it turns out extrinsic or external rewards (if you do this – you get this) may not always be the best motivator. For tasks that need even the smallest amount of cognitive skill intrinsic or natural rewards like autonomy, mastery, and purpose are far more motivating.
To put these concepts into context, “Put it away” is not the same as, “Where do you think this should go?” Getting organized requires critical thinking skills. Putting the clothes in the hamper does not. Therefore an allowance for putting clothes in the hamper is likely to work as a motivator, while an allowance for cleaning your room may not. Autonomy is your best friend in this situation. Allow your child (or your husband) to personalize the space. (I’ll try it out and let you know if it works!)
Free will is undoubtedly a motivating factor. I find I’m never motivated to pay the bills just because I have to. I find it much more motivating to think about reducing debt, and I find a sense of accomplishment in meeting small goals like not using credit cards for everyday purchases. I also like the feeling of being a responsible adult, making payments on time, and ultimately reducing financial stress!
Perhaps the reason I often fail to stay on a diet is because I don’t take the time to personalize it to include my favorite foods. I think I’d be much more likely to stay on my diet if I could figure out how to have a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast without gaining weight. I love to exercise, but I find that not having my own personal space to do so is demotivating. I absolutely love being outdoors, taking walks, hiking, fishing, camping, etc. How can I use autonomy, mastery and purpose to motivate me?
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school time – CC BY-SA 2.0
Day 167/365 – Pure Evil – CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
feng shui nightmare – © Liana Seneca (me) all rights reserved
a restful, well-lighted space – CC BY 2.0
Love, Support, Educate, Advocate, Accept… by Liana Seneca is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.