How To Motivate Me (part 2) Progress Not Perfection

It’s always easy to get motivated when I see progress. Cleaning the house while the kids are still growing – is like shoveling the walk while it’s still snowing…


We had a great weekend. Stephen hit new communication milestones. Sunday he signed and communicated, listened and actively participated in a conversation more in one day than he ever has before. He was highly motivated! His progress motivated me to keep up with my independent study of ASL.

In How To Motivate Me (part 1) we talked about intrinsic motivators – autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Eric Barker, author of the blog Barking Up The Wrong Tree, talks about how to motivate employees, spouses, and kids without nagging in How To Motivate People: 4 Steps Backed By Science | Motivation is more significant than ability, intelligence, or rewards in cultivating success.

Dan Pink, author of Drive, explains the role of autonomy, mastery and purpose in motivation. Atlassian Software has a unique management strategy that includes what they call, “FedEx Days” meaning self-directed time where they must deliver something overnight. Google has a strategy known as 20% time. Employees spend 20% of the time working autonomously. They are free to choose how to spend their time, what task to work on, their technique and their team. Imagine what school would be like if every teacher used 20% time!

"I do my own stunts."

Ever since Stephen was old enough to have his own ideas, I’ve told him, “I’m not a mind reader.” It’s ironic that all my life people would say, “What are you a mind reader?” I’ve always noticed things that other people don’t notice. I didn’t think much of it because it’s always been this way. Of course I never thought much of the fact that I couldn’t hear or follow what people are saying much either. In retrospect I think I may have picked up some non-verbal communication skills along the way.

My grandmother said, “Great minds run in the family line.” I think it may actually be alternating genes between vision and hearing impairment. My mom and my oldest son have had problems with their vision since birth. I’ve had trouble distinguishing voices from background noise since birth. Could it be that unique perception of the world around us is what actually runs in the family line?

They say people with hearing impairment have better visual skill, and people with vision impairment have better auditory skill. What skills become strengthened for people like my son, who have combined vision and hearing impairment? Well, he definitely notices smells, tastes, textures, visual and auditory contrast. I’d have to say these senses seem heightened. Taking into account each individual’s unique strengths is a good way to increase motivation.

Progress is another important aspect of motivation. I always feel more motivated when I can see progress. My son’s progress with feeding therapies was what motivated me to start this blog! The progress is so extreme from where we started, that every time I watch him eat a new food or feed himself I actually feel awe and amazement at how far we’ve come.

Stephen was under the 10th percentile for height and weight, and diagnosed with failure to thrive when we started feeding therapy six long years ago. The gastrointestinologist (GI doctor) was certain that he would need a feeding tube. I think he was incorrect because he had not observed the progress we had already made.

We had gone from spending 8 hours a day on feeding to just 3 hours a day. The sheer amount of time and effort needed was frustrating in the beginning. By the time we went to a GI doctor, we already had 2 years of progress to marvel in.  It was the slow progress of “three steps forward, two steps back” but significant and noticeable progress – none the less. Tom Stafford and Matt Webb discuss the role of progress as a motivator in The illusion of progress lights a fire « Mind Hacks.

Persistence is knowing the task is doable and you are capable. Small victories are a source of joy, promoting engagement and creativity.

Did you know that persistent people spend twice as long thinking about their accomplishments? I get overwhelmed, thinking about what I have to do and not what I have already accomplished. This week I’m going to work on emphasizing progress. I think my next to-do-list will start with 2 things already checked off 🙂

Silly Pizza Boy
You may also like:

How to Motivate Me (part 3)
How to Motivate Me (part 3)
feng shui nightmare
How To Motivate Me

Buried In Snow ©2014 Liana Seneca –  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Blizzard ©2014 Liana Seneca –  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
I do my own stunts ©2014 Liana Seneca, all rights reserved
Silly Pizza Boy ©2014 Liana Seneca, all rights reserved
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Love, Support, Educate, Advocate, Accept… by Liana Seneca is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

10 thoughts on “How To Motivate Me (part 2) Progress Not Perfection”

  1. So pleased to hear about Stephen’s recent communication milestones, Liana; that is fabulous news. This is such a moving, interesting piece; I do hope you don’t mind if I reblog it? I feel everyone should read it! xxx


  2. Reblogged this on ALIEN AURA'S BLOG: IT'LL BLOW YOUR MIND! and commented:
    This is such a moving, interesting and hope-inspiring piece written by Liana. Please do read it: she has much of great importance to say, not just about children with Special Needs, but also about the senses and the way we perceive our beautiful world.


    1. Thanks Ali! One of the most difficult parts of being a special needs parent is reaching out to the world around us. It’s easy to become isolated in our own little world. We are all connected by our humanity ❤ I try to wrap the topics of this little world in the grander scheme of things, things we can all relate to and benefit from 😉


  3. I love the idea of a to-do list with things already checked off – I usually start my list with “write list,” so I can accomplish at least one thing in the list. Progress… Something to remember indeed, another iteration of the idea that it’s the journey that matters most. Are we still moving? Are we moving in a good direction? Well…then… that’s a win 🙂


      1. Absolutely. When my patience with others is wearing thin, I take a look at myself and realize patience comes from within. When I was a child, they said I had the patience of a saint. I would tame 25 parakeets in a day or two at my mother’s pet store. (I also tamed snakes, but that’s another story.) The truth is the birds would be quiet and still when I was able to be quiet and still. It’s so easy to be critical of myself. Love can be such a motivating thing. It’s easier to be patient with others than it is to be patient with myself. I often find myself in that situation. I remind myself that I can’t truly be patient with anyone if I can’t be patient with myself. As with so many things in life (self-esteem, perseverance, peace) patience is reflected both inward and outward. Some days it feels as if the well has run dry. Luckily hope is a renewable resource 🙂


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