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Day 5: Alternative Motivation

“A positive attitude may not solve all of your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.”

~Herm Albright

I would say that for a cynic such as myself, the decision to exude positivity for the sole purpose of pissing off other people (who are usually always grumpy anyway) would be a likely one.  After all, there are benefits to having a positive attitude, but they might not always be completely apparent at the outset of the day.  Therefore, when there is no real motivating factor for having a good attitude, it is imperative that we make one so that we can reap all the benefits of that attitude – even if some of them are kind of malicious… (I think malicious is too strong of a word).

Motivation is hard to come by.  Sometimes it’s possible to work towards a goal of a vacation, or a night out with friends, or to reach a personal best (like in running or something).  Other times, the end goal is either out of sight, or not immediately existent.  In those cases, is it okay to misplace your motivation?  Perhaps you choose to do something because it will make someone else happy, even if you really don’t want to do it.  Or maybe you’re seeking someone’s approval so your actions are done solely in an attempt to get that approval rather than to attain the end result of your action.  But let us say that the end result, even if accomplished for a completely unrelated reason, is something good, or worthwhile, or necessary in some way: Does it really matter if the motivation for that action was misplaced?

It’s a hard argument, I think.  As a kid you do your chores because you want your allowance, not because you actually care that the chores get done.  But who cares?  The house is clean, parents are happy, and you get your allowance.  Perhaps you make it a goal to outrun someone in a race.  Whether or not you succeed, in the end you have been physically active, increased your endurance or speed, and become more fit – All good things.

But what about me?  What if the reason I keep going on from day to day is because I don’t want to let people down?  Or that I don’t want people to know that I quit?  Or maybe that I have too many student loans to pay off and this is the only way to do it?  What if I don’t always feel motivated by the desire to reach my goals – or that I want to finish my residency, or to become a knowledgeable, capable and compassionate physician?  I *want* all those things, I really do.  But they all just seem so far away and so out of reach.  If I just keep making it through for all these other reasons, will it matter in the end… if I get all those things I want in the long term?

7 thoughts on “Day 5: Alternative Motivation

  1. I wish I knew the answer to that. It is difficult for me on different levels, with nowhere near the type of job you have be responsible for. Here’s hoping for clarity sooner than later. ((Hugs))

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    1. I don’t think there ever is an answer. I’m also not sure that clarity ever exists either. Maybe one day it will prove me wrong?

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    1. I’m not sure if that is good or bad (that the paragraph is hitting home for you). It’s not the best place to be, I think. Let’s hope that it gets better…

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  2. This reminds me of when I was going into my eating disorder program. They did a kind of “readiness & motivation” interview, and a lot of the questions were asking whether I wanted to get better for myself or for other people.

    I think that when the motivation comes from within you, then it’s stronger, but maybe even though your motivation for the other people in your life and externals factors (like money), if it gets you to the end goal that you wanted to achieve, then does it really matter? It might make the journey that more hellish, but… I don’t know. You always ask such tough questions haha. I guess only time will tell.

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    1. You’re probably right: Motivation from within is probably stronger than any other motivation. But I guess if you don’t have that, external motivation can be a temporary substitute.

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