After graduating with my master’s in counseling, I spent a few years working in the sales department of a technology company in order to make money while building my practice. Every day I would wake up dreading to go to work. I hated cold calling people, trying to get them to buy a computer or phone system that I didn’t even understand how to work. Other sales agents on my team were so excited at the prospects of new clients, feverishly calculating their potential commissions. I, however, with fake smile plastered across my face, was inwardly trying to think of ways I could avoid calling the stranger on the phone. I cringed at the thought of begging them to meet with me so that I could convince them that their company’s survival depended on their buying the newest headset or whatever else we were offering. Ugh! I felt like I was begging for rejection: “Really? Not today, thanks.”
Not that making money is wrong, and not that I don’t like money—trust me, I do—but I didn’t like it enough to spend every day trying to sell something to someone. I became listless and bored. I felt unaccomplished. In my dread of the future I was ignoring the present—I was completely unmotivated. And it was soul death.
Needless to say, I was a terrible salesperson. I made hardly any commission and didn’t bring in new clients. So, not surprisingly, over a very gentle cup of coffee, it was politely suggested that I look for something I would be happier doing. My first firing. It was a tough pill to swallow; even though I hated the job, it still felt like rejection. But it was the best thing that could have happened to me. I had been married for one year and was in my first trimester of pregnancy, and was scared to death to jump into counseling full time. I always knew I was going to be a therapist; I was just waiting until the “perfect timing.” Ha! Through a long, arduous path, I’m finally realizing it’s about God’s timing, not mine. So I am so grateful that He pushed me into following my calling sooner rather than later.
Fourteen years later, I am a married mother of three, a counseling psychologist, and a group facilitator trainer. And there is nothing in the world I would rather be doing. I love the field of psychology and I love being a therapist. It is a career, vocation, and calling all in one; and I would do it even if I didn’t get paid. In my free time, I read about psychology, watch psychology movies, and bore my friends with new psychology research because I am so motivated to learn as much as I can about the field. I have found my motivation, my driving force, which is to help people find their way. That’s it. I get my kicks by helping others because in so doing, I help myself. It’s not great money, but it gets me up in the morning, excited about my life and my purpose.
What motivates you?
What motivates you? What gets you up in the morning, excited about your life and your purpose? Is it money, helping, traveling, discovering new things, putting things together, deconstructing, inventing, creating, understanding, or organizing? Are you interested, fulfilled, passionate about what you spend most of your waking moments doing? What is your driving force? What makes you feel accomplished?
I read somewhere that we are ‘human beings’ not ‘human doings’. Are you being who you are meant to be or are you just doing something you think you’re supposed to do?
Perhaps you are at home with your children and you feel you have had to put aside the things that motivate you. I encourage you to find ways to incorporate those things into this season of your life with your precious kids. I remember typing my dissertation on “Body Image Dissatisfaction” while my six-month-old daughter played next to me. By doing my research and staying motivated to pursue my interests, I was also learning about her and how to be a better mother to her. Even now, as she enters her teen years, being “in the know” about body image and all the pressures the media place on girls have helped me parent her. By following my interests, I not only am helping myself, I am helping her. It isn’t always easy, but you will be a better parent if you don’t allow your soul to die. You have the right to pursue your interests and enthusiasms. You have permission to get motivated.
Perhaps you’re in a job in which you don’t feel fulfilled; you don’t feel motivated. I’m not saying to hand in your resignation letter (please, please don’t!). I’m saying it is okay to take stock and ask yourself if this is what you want to be doing three years from now, one year from now. ‘Is there something I could be doing while at my current job that will begin to prepare me for what I truly would love to do?’
It is important to understand that we all have periods of “no motivation” or feeling “stuck.” However, lack of motivation can be a key symptom of clinical depression. If your lack of motivation is accompanied by feelings that include but are not limited to intense sadness, hopelessness, pessimism, changes in eating habits and/or sleeping patterns, suicidal ideation, and a sense of helplessness for two weeks or more, it is important to consult a mental health professional. There are also numerous other medical conditions that involve lack of motivation due to extreme fatigue, pain, etc. Again, a medical consultation in those circumstances is necessary.
Getting your mojo back
If you are not clinically depressed or physically sick, there are 5 steps you can take to begin to figure out what truly would motivate you and to get your “mojo” back?
1. Ask yourself: “What did I always enjoy doing as a child and adolescent? What did I want to be when I was younger? Why did I stop doing it? What was I doing when I felt most alive?
2. If I could do anything in the world (other than sitting on the beach for the rest of your life), what would it be? What stops me from doing it now? How can I start preparing to do it again?
3. Start moving. Sometimes we have to “fake it till we make it.” Whether it’s trying a new exercise regime, doing something creative, or eating healthier, sometimes we need to trick our brains into becoming motivated. Don’t wait until you FEEL like it. As Nike says, ‘Just Do It.’ Almost every runner I’ve met says getting out the front door is the hardest part. Fifteen minutes into the run, they can’t believe they almost skipped it. And while you’re moving or creating, let the thoughts come; think about what is exciting, empowering, invigorating to you.
4. Write down some of those thoughts that came to you while you were moving, creating, and contemplating at 3 o’clock in the morning—those ideas that started your heart pumping and your brain illuminating.
5. Pray that God direct you on the path that He has in place for you. God created you to fulfill His purpose. He did not create you to spend a life filled with boredom, misery, emptiness, and dread. I truly believe that if you align yourself with God’s purpose for your life through prayer, contemplation, and connecting with likeminded people, you would find your Divine purpose, and your motivation to accomplish His purpose would be unquenchable—impossible to suppress or destroy.
You got this.