Note from Seeker –
I hear about this ‘drive’ stuff that some people have and ‘grit’ and ‘ambition’ and ‘motivation’. Where do I get some? I see people around me that have this something inside them that pushes them. How do I get that? I can be stubborn and hold a grudge for a long time. Why can’t i stay the course of accomplishment?
~ an answer ~
Short answer: Type “motivation” into the search field of YouTube. Pow! Millions of motivational minutes right there, ready for you to watch! You only have to give up hours of your life to learn the wise lessons of sweaty, inspiring athletes and armless, legless motivational speakers. There are countless professional speakers, preachers, celebrities, rich motherfuckers, and know-it-all teenagers who claim or appear to have what it takes. Tons of ambition-porn aimed to make you feel so shitty you’ll get up and do something.
Holy crap. That was a depressing ride. Skip the YouTube thing.
I don’t think you’re going to find your answer on the internet. (smirk)
SO WHAT COULD IT BE?
Lack of ambition, lethargy and general apathy can be a symptom of other problems. So first you should rule these out:
1) Something is physically wrong: Lethargy is on the WebMD symptom checker for a reason. But don’t listen to a website, go get a check-up. Some simple blood work can determine if you’re anemic, have low testosterone or even diabetes.
2) Something is mentally wrong: Specifically, things like depression, chronic fatigue, stress and even sleep disorders can manifest as a giant ball of “meh” sitting on your chest, preventing you from getting up and doing things. Any of these conditions are treatable. Find an online test to see if you have more symptoms. If you do, then seek help.
3) You’re stagnant: They call it a daily grind for a reason. Because it churns and churns eroding away all sense of self or joy or fulfillment. This slow erosion of all you hold dear can translate to a super low reading on the Give-A-Fuck-O-Meter and result in a shit ton of “why bother”? Stir that morass up a bit.
Jar your routine: Do something out of character and out of the ordinary.
Thrill seek: When’s the last time you did something exciting enough to scare you?
Travel: Funds permitting, take a weekend adventure wherever you can get the cheapest ticket. Funds not permitting… go for a drive, or a train ride.
4) Atrophy: This is kind of a subset to something is wrong and stagnation, but it warrants its own bold block. (Because I said so and today I am writing this damn column.) Brain, muscle structure and even your social skills, deteriorate when not in use. This will lead to general sluggishness and blah.
Get your blood moving and give your muscles much desired oxygen: Dance. Yoga. Run. Walk. Screw.
Challenge your brain and get your synapses firing: Read. Take a class. Learn. Play music. Art!
Make friends, interactions with other humans will make you feel better and give you purpose.
Remember, a body at rest tends to not give a fuck. So, try giving a fuck. Here, have some of mine. I have too many.
5) Indecision or indecisiveness, whichever word you prefer, I don’t care. Whatever: Over our evolutionary course, our animal brains have developed very specific methods of reaction in response to threats or stress: Fight, flight or freeze. Even though we are not as frequently hunted by bears or lions, we still often engage our daily reactions in similar fashion.
When facing a goal, one might presume the ambitious person will be more apt to fight. They’ll take aim, and thump on that problem until they have mashed it into a nice pliable success. They will face their problem, or goal head-on and risk it all.
A not so gritty person may run from responsibility, shirk the idea of bettering themselves, and flee their way to obscurity.
In-betweeners, the IDGAFers are just kind of frozen in the middle, unable to choose a direction. “Gah, do I want to be an actor, a singer or a lawyer? Shit. I don’t know. I guess I’ll just stay here and flip burgers” (which is great, because I like cheeseburgers and someone needs to make them for me sometimes). They may have many ideas, or ideals, they probably also have very specific imaginings of how those things must pan out. Barring those perfect scenarios to realize lofty goals…. they just freeze everything and wait for just the right set of circumstances to rescue them. Rather than decide to alter their plan, they decide to not decide.
Stop that. We’re evolved monkeys now. We don’t have to just fight, flight or freeze. We can think.
WHAT IF YOU DON’T HAVE IT?
So what if this just isn’t your bag? Maybe you aren’t meant to be the go-getter.
You ask how to stay the course. What course? Sounds like you have a specific notion of what success should be. Have you questioned your motive for that? Do you really believe in it?
I just don’t think overt motivation and hardcore drive are innate to every person. Humanity is rife with cool, go with the flow types. They are not all aimless potheads either. Plenty of these laid-back folks find success by recognizing and seizing opportunities when they can. They are willing to change their goals, and reevaluate their selves, and their course.
So… revaluate your ideals. Entertain the idea of altering your heading. Who knows, if the trade-winds are especially fair, you may find that one amazing thing that you always suspected existed, but could never name. Motivation can’t be found in a place; it’s not in the store, you can’t bottle it – however, motivation CAN be found in the throes of something that instills passion in a soul.