Motivation | Note 9
It seems that we got motivation all wrong. Or, at least, I certainly got it wrong in climbing. It only occurred to me when I ended up not climbing, or training for climbing, at all — I was writing my first book and, with a fast approaching deadline, there simply wasn’t time to do much else. After nearly two years without physically pushing myself, I had a freshly printed hardback in my hands, an incredibly unfit body (relatively speaking), and nearly zero motivation to change it. At first, I was terrified.
Over the last few years, motivational content has become both a cliché and an inescapable part of the media. We laugh at it, we roll our eyes, we dismiss it, and yet — don’t we all still hope that one day we’ll crack the code, find the secret sauce and become, well, motivated?
The very use of the word has become misleading. The instinctive interpretation of being motivated is pretty much the same as wanting to do something, yet we usually use the word to describe particularly successful individuals. Hard workers are called motivated, those who set and achieve goals, and those whose determination doesn’t allow them to diverge from their chosen path, even when faced with difficulty.
Over many years of my climbing, I used to be exactly that. I wanted to get better and did what it took, even if it meant more than just going to the gym and getting the training done. Lifestyle changes, career choices, even where I lived — all that was dependent on serving my climbing best. With a certain degree of inevitability, goals were achieved, grades ticked, skills unlocked. And I was viewed by others as somebody motivated: an accolade bestowed on those who get it done.
Even the quality of being motivated has become a kind of a success in its own right. In a sense, if you’re not constantly psyched and driven to get shit done, there’s something wrong with you — at least that’s the message we’re bombarded with from every angle.
A quick Google search results in thousands of articles detailing sources and kinds of motivation, usually either in relation to career or fitness, and dishing out advice on how to get it, maintain it, and finally achieve your goals. What continues to surprise me is how little there’s said about motivation not necessarily being a good thing, as if positive outcomes could always override the negative reasons... continue reading →