My Ecclesiastes – Motivation

The past year has been quite a journey for me, and I expect that the trip is nowhere near over. As I read the book of Ecclesiastes recently, I was reminded again about how even the wisest man who ever lived had to walk a path full of “wrong turns” in order to get to the destination. Solomon tested knowledge, pleasure, power, and a host of other sources for the meaningful life that his heart ached for, but in the end, here’s what he comes to:

Now all has been heard;
   here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
   for this is the duty of all mankind.
               (Ecclesiastes 12)

I believe that. Wholeheartedly. The search for “life” ends in God. There is nothing else that will fulfil, noone else who can validate us (me) to a place where it’s all “worthwhile.”

I’ve also come to understand my role in this life. Well, that may be a bit bold. Certainly, I don’t know everything about what I’m supposed to do for the rest of my life or see the exact image of how I fit into the puzzle, but I see a good portion about how my uniquely created heart fits into the body of Christ. I’m learning what makes me “come alive,” and I’m going and doing that. I’m catching visions of what God is asking me to do, short and long term. That’s amazing. It’s something I’ve never experienced in life. It’s something I want to experience for the rest of my life. I never want this to go away again.

But… yeah, you knew what was coming, right? But.

But what I fight is the day-to-day. I’ve received some great coaching and mentoring along the lines of goal setting, strategic planning, and personal development. I know how to set goals that art attainable, measurable, and all that. I even find my life centered much more around that way of life than it used to be. It’s the motivation thing that gets me…

Motivation to…

…get to bed on time and get up early like I need to.
…make my followup and sales calls on a regular / daily basis, instead of letting them pile up
…make plans for big things that will never happen by themselves or with a single week’s worth.
…step up and let my voice be heart, even though it’s not as confident as I wish it was.

I even hopped over to Wikipedia, and it starts off right where I’m at:

Motivation is the driving force by which humans achieve their goals. Motivation is said to be intrinsic or extrinsic. … Motivation may be rooted in a basic need to minimize physical pain and maximize pleasure, or it may include specific needs such as eating and resting, or a desired object, goal, state of being, ideal, or it may be attributed to less-apparent reasons such as altruism, selfishness, morality, or avoiding mortality. Conceptually, motivation should not be confused with either volition or optimism. Motivation is related to, but distinct from, emotion.

I watched this documentary the other day about Seal Team 6, the guys that raided and took out Osama Bin Ladin. “Extremely Self-Motivated men,” this show called them. “Is there even such a thing,” I wondered? I hear that put in a variety of forms… Self Motivated, Type A, Driven…. all of those things. And that’s not ME. I don’t WANT it to be me, in fact. And in reality, I doubt it’s really anybody. Something is motivating those who seem to need no motivation other than a tap on the shoulder… self, pride, determination… something.

And this is my little ecclesiastical moment. I may not be searching for meaning in life, but I am searching for something… something that will drive me, motivate me.

I don’t want to figure that all out. I don’t want answer. But I want to understand my heart. I want to know it. To take captive the realm I have been given and put it into the service of the king.

That’s really where this all boils down to. S.D.G. Solo Deo Gloria. All Glory to God. That phrase captures it for me as a barometer, because when I measure what I’m doing against it, I can see the difference between what’s driven by my own pride and selfishness and fear and what’s driven by an all-out-craziness to see God’s name lifted up.

I want to keep that in front of me, all day, every day. In the back of my head and right in front of my eyes. I must. I’m not sure what will “work” for me, and perhaps a life of dissatisfaction with my own status quo is not a bad thing. On the other hand, God is doing great things, and He’s doing many of them right around my little realm, and that’s exciting to watch right now. Not because of me. Not even necessarily through me. Often in spite of me. But certainly around me. I am so thankful for eyes to see, and I pray for a heart to continue to follow, chase, and one of these days capture that wild goose called “what motivates chet?”

While I’m hear, I searched my blogs for posts I’ve made about motivation, and there certainly are a few. Here are a couple links…

Where I stand now – Attitude Development

I like this one.

My attitude is definitely under development… under construction. So many things have been identified that need to be torn down, and many things that need to be built in their place have become clear. I’ve severed some relationship ties, cut some ties that have held me back or added nothing to my life except stress and aggravation. I’ve set aside some habits and established some new ones. I’ve begun to recognize failure as not something to be feared, but to be accepted, embraced as part of the plan, and used as a powerful motivator toward success.

It’s still at an awkward stage, because much of this is theoretical for me and not all that practical. That or it’s so practical that I haven’t always made room for the flexibility that must be built in. But it’s developing.

My attitude of myself is changing much. I believe in me. I believe in my potential. I believe that I have something to offer, and that what I have to offer has value.

I believe in others, but the fact that they must reciprocate is not a necessity. There are many in my life that I can pour into but cannot expect to receive “what matters” back from them. I do need that, but I don’t need to get it from every possible source.

I understand I need to develop habits. I hope and pray that action follows attitude, but I believe that attitude will often follow action. I must put my beliefs into action to get them deep in my heart instead of just to the point where I “believe in them.” If I truly do believe in them, I’ll be able to get past feelings and into the realm where I’m willing to do that which I’m not totally comfortable with, because I know it’s right.

So yeah, this one is definitely under development and changing, and I enjoy it.

Where I stand now – Level of Motivation

This is a tough one. I see so much potential. I have several specific goals, both for my business/professional life and for my personal life. Some of them even cross that imaginary line and affect all of my life. A few of them I’ve put into goal planning sheets, and some others I’ve just stepped up and done because I knew they needed to just be stood up to and done. But then there’s the ones I know will take a lot of work, a lot of planning, and a good plan that could very well fail. I’m much more comfortable dreaming and even prioritizing dreams than I am turning them into actionable plans.

I want so much more right now. I see the way to get there. But I often feel I’m going at it alone. I know I have friends, I have a coach, I even have customers that will sit down and give me advice. I have a God that has plans and a future for me, and that also sets steps before to take that lead to that plan and that future. But the question that gets me still seems to be, how to I get from here to there?

Much of it is busyness. I’m still busy doing things to keep myself busy and bring in immediate income.

But beyond business, I think there’s something bigger. I think there is still fear of letting the plan be in control. Obviously not above God’s plan, but accepting the responsibility that even He wants me to step up and get from here to there. He wants me to trust him, to throw it all in, to risk much more than having to work extra hard to pay the bills.

I guess one thing I want is someone to walk this journey with. I’ve opened up much more to my wife, and even to a few friends, about ideas and plans, but that just seems to be sharing on the personal side. I don’t know if I want a partner, an investor, a what… but I want someone I can develop this plan with, someone else who has an investment. As I look at that, though… I have to ask…

Why do I feel I need that? And do I? Truly? Is that “part of the plan?”

If it is part of the plan, then I should make plans to make it happen. It could also just be fear, wanting someone else to pony up to the risk, to risk failure and success alongside of me.

So that’s where I’m at. It’s not where I want to be, but it’s further than I was. As I said at the start, this is a tough one.

Some questions I want to answer…

  • What does motivate me?
  • Who motivates me?
  • What kind of motivation lasts for me, both short term and long?
  • Can I make it a goal to find motivation that works for me?
  • Do I want to be motivated? Really?

So anyways, enough about that for now.

Weariness and Motivation

I’m in one of those seasons of life where tiredness, and even exhaustion, is more than something felt more than at certain points of the day… it’s more of a permanent state of mind. A big part of it, I’m sure, is the “role” I’ve taken on as “family-member-with-the-1AM-to-6AM-feeding-shift.” Add to that some significant focus on planning and changing my business model, a coaching role that can easily take up 1-2 hours a day, and then all the other stuff that comes with being a man, husband, and father. Oh, and then all those things that tug at my heart with signifance beyond my own little world.

But that’s not what’s captured my attention.

What’s captured my attention is that even though I’m averaging 4-6 hours of sleep a night, almost guaranteed to be interupted at some point… when that moment of interuption comes, I’m up, awake, and ready to go. But a few months ago, before the baby was born and my sleep was only stopped by an alarm clock or a body finally rested enough to wake up on it’s own, I’d have a terrible time waking up. I’ve felt more energy, more drive, and even more satisfaction with these long, tiring days than I’ve felt in a long time.

What’s the difference? What’s my motivation?

I’ve often looked at people of old whose stories I love and how they would only get a few hours of sleep every night. I would long for that to be my own state of mind, that I could power nap for a couple hours and then be ready to hit it again. But I didn’t see that happening. No matter what alarm tone I used, no matter how I tried to get myself up and going early in the morning, it just didn’t happen. And yet, years ago, when I had my paper routes as a teenager, I was routinely up at 5AM every day, and 4AM on Sundays.

What’s the difference? What drives these guys I look up to? What was my motivation back when I used to do that?

Was it just that I “had” to get up that early? I think not. What I’m coming to see is that over the last several years, I really haven’t had that driving force to get me up and moving as if the first hours of the day mattered. Right now, I do. Of course it’s temporary, with the bottle feeding and all, but it’s still time that matters. My daughter’s hungry, my wife’s exhausted and getting rest from a day surrounded by these kids, and this is my time to do something that counts. And so I get up at 2AM, 3AM, or 4AM, and sit with her for half an hour, or two hours, whatever it takes.

I’ve noticed the same thing on Wednesday mornings, when I spend time with some brothers I truly care about, and who I know care about me. It’s worth getting up at 4:30AM, even if I went to bed at midnight the night before. Sure, my day is powered by caffeine and I feel more than ready to crash at the end of the day, but I wouldn’t trade that time for hardly anything in the world.

All this kind of came to a head for me the other day when I cam ehome rom a long day, and while I felt like crashing, I knew there were more important things to be done. In fact, the “important” part fo my day was just starting, now that I was home. But I was plain. wiped. out. I couldn’t get energy from coffee, from pushups, from anything. I even posted on Facebook for some ideas… and got everything from hugs to slushies to coffee to a backrub to a walk in the woods… all great things but all not on the agenda for that night. It just wasn’t going to happen. What I needed was something to remind me that what I was doing mattered.

So I decided to force the issue. I laid down with my 6 week old daughter and played our staring game for a few minutes. She laughed, smiled, and reminded me that I was one cool dad who she liked to spend time with. Then I put my son to bed, talked about his favorite Bible story from our book (Jesus dying on the cross, no less), and sang and prayed with him. And then, I went downstairs, made a cup of coffee, and told Erin, “let’s make some cookies.” (Thanks Jill) We didn’t have time to bake them, but we could at least spend some quality time together mixing ingredients up. And by the time that was all done, and I started getting ready for bed, I reailized… I’m not exhausted anymore! I’d gone from long, hard day to a feeling of accomplishment all around… not anything big, but a feeling of “this day was a success.” I didn’t cave when I got home, even though I felt like that was the next natural step.

As I drove into town the next morning listening to my Bible reading for the day, I heard this psalm:

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
       where does my help come from?

My help comes from the LORD,
       the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
       he who watches over you will not slumber;

Psalm 121

Looking up to the hills… reminding ourself of what’s really meaningful… staring into the eyes of a 6 week old baby. When on a journey of the magnitude of life, we need the ability to life our eyes from the footsteps right in front of us from time to time, to be reminded of where we are going, not just of where we are. This brings me more than hope, it brings confidence that all we’re doing is part of something much bigger… that it is worth it.

And that, I think, is where the motivation comes from. From the reminders that what we’re doing is worth it. Will that get me up in the morning? Not if what’s “worth it” is simply exercising to lose weight, or getting to work early, or even making a big sale. What is worth it is how these goals fit into my bigger dreams. The things that make me tick. That’s what I’m on a journey to find, and that’s also what is making this journey such a thrill ride, because I’m starting to see where these puzzle pieces fit.