18 of 31

What is your motivation?

This is a question I was asking myself while I was at yoga today. This is a very bad thing to do, because yoga is supposed to be your time of day when you can relax and forget about the outside world and just concentrate on breathing. However, breathing makes me think and therefore yoga is always terrific thinking time.

I want you to all think for a second and imagine yourselves back in college, high school or even middle school. What motivated you? Why did you take the extra AP class or study that extra hour or stay after practice to perfect that new trick or stretch at home until you had both left and right splits or went for that new pose in yoga even though your arms were tired and all you wanted to do was curl up in child’s pose? What motivated you?

What I’m finding is that here, at a very academically challenging college, competition is one of the most popular motivators. People here love to compete. They see someone get an A and if they didn’t get an A they get mad and for the next test they study and study and they get that A. They see someone with a better resume than their’s, participating in more clubs and doing more philanthropy and that is their motivation to go out and join every club on campus and go out every afternoon to feed the poor.

This is all great. I say, take your motivation where you can get it. However, that being said, I have never been a very competitive person. My mom can attest to this. I was that kid at daycare who would get their toys stolen and shrug and pick up a different toy. Fighting and working my way to the top by out-studying and out-dancing and out-acting other people was never in my nature. I have tried to be motivated by competition. Really, I have. One of my sisters is extremely competitive and I have constantly compared myself to her, envious of her strong work ethic and grades. But that’s all I am. Envious. Not full of the need to beat her– just amazed and fascinated that she can work so hard for so long and have her only reward be an A. So, instead, my entire life I have needed to find other things to be motivated by.

If I do something, it’s because I really, really love it. How do I know this? Because I know that I’m only doing it for me. I don’t do things to win or to see my peers’ faces when I subtlety flash my grade under their noses or to feel as though I am the best. If I’m really into an art project or something we’re learning about in class, I’ll put my all into it and I’ll come out with a great result because I loved it and I was motivated by this passion. But if I’m not that into something and I find it pointless and stupid and hard, I don’t try as hard and the result and my grade reflects this.

I am NOT saying that one way or the other is better. I am just sharing what my yoga-thoughts were today and what I learned about myself. I am motivated by passion, like many students who end up in art school. Others can be motivated by success, competition, a future goal, and I respect anything that people use to take that extra AP class or study that extra hour or stay after practice to perfect that new trick or stretch at home until you have both left and right splits or go for that new pose in yoga even though your arms are tired and all you want to do is curl up in child’s pose.

So, I ask again: what is your motivation?

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4 thoughts on “18 of 31

  1. This is a great post to think about. I’d like to think I’m motivated intrinsically, but like you, I’ll let people grab my toy and I will just let it go. (I might complain…) I think the world needs a balance of high, medium and low competitive people.

  2. This is great inspiration for a future post. If you don’t mind, I think I will reflect and then “borrow” your idea in a day or two! It’s not an easy question for me to answer because I grew up trained that I should be motivated to do things to pleased other people rather than myself. I think in the last 10 years or so, my motivation is slowly changing. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Why do anything? I do it for me, not because it’s a competition. If it’s a competition, I know I will lose, so I learned long ago, do it because you enjoy it or you want to learn about something. Deep thoughts during yoga today.

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