I've been thinking a lot about motivation lately, mostly because mine is finally increasing again. We've all heard it before - motivation is not magic. Motivation must be built or grown. I was thinking about this today, and about how much growing motivation is like growing crops.
Analogies using farming have been used in so many ways (just pick up any version of the bible), because it's something most people understand. We understand that you must plant the seed, water it regularly, weed it, and then, and only then, can we collect (harvest) the fruits (or veggies) of our labor. Motivation is a lot like that.
I stumbled upon a Thinkquest article which discusses the growing of crops, which resonated with me. (Source link at the end of this blog.)
"People have been growing crops all through history. As people traveled from one continent to another, they took seeds with them so that they could grow food in their new country. Early settlers knew that they needed to be able to grow their own food if they wanted to live."
Like settlers knowing they need to grow their own food to survive, all of us Healthy Lifestyle Farmers need to realize that we have to grow our own motivation if we hope to stick it out past those first "resolution" stages of wanting to lose weight, get toned, or just get healthy. Very rarely do we stumble upon a random tree with fruit already planted, and never does it continue to bloom and blossom into a fruit that provides us with healthy fruit unless we nurture it properly.
I also realized after my move to WV that I had to take my "seeds" of motivation with me when I move. Even if it's just a small move - a new job, a new child, a change of plans. Every time something changes, from small changes to big ones, from work hours to gym hours, even the weather, we have to learn to take those seeds of motivation with us. Keep them in your pocket so you can carry them with you wherever you go.
"Today, farmers know much more about growing crops than they did then. Different crops are grown so that the farmer will get larger fruit or larger seeds. There is a lot of science in agriculture today."
There's also a lot of science behind weight loss today. The diet and health and fitness industry is one of the largest (if not the largest) mostly because they believe they can sell their magic beans to the unsuspecting. But we have to know the science of the thing to understand what really works. Calories in - calories burned; create a deficit and you'll lose weight. Most times it's just as simple as that. It doesn't matter if you're burning calories in a gym, with workout DVDs, running, walking, dancing. It really doesn't matter how it's done, as long as there is a calorie burn that helps create a deficit. And we also know that weight loss can happen without exercise if we simply create a calorie deficit. It's a science. We have to understand the science of the thing to make it work. And the more we understand, the better crops we can grow. Add in ST and you'll get a toner body than with just diet alone = bigger crop (sorta). Work in regular bursts of motivation like surfing the web for motivational pictures, doing motivational exercises, trying new things that boost your self-confidence and you'll be building a larger seed for the next time you need to plant that crop.
"Growing a better grain, fruit or vegetable means that the farmer needs to know: 1. What kind of plant will grow well in their soil, 2. How to get the soil ready for planting, 3. How to grow, harvest and store the crop, 4. How to get rid of weeds and crop pests, and 5. How to sell it once it's been grown."
1. What kind of plant will grow well in your soil?
This is different for everyone. What gets you motivated? For some people, it's hours in the gym and the feeling of sweat dripping from their forehead and down their backs. For others, it's the success stories of others who have similar experiences. Still others find theirs in motivational blogs, posters, pictures, etc. Some people even get a surge or rush of motivation from trying new things. Know what your trigger motivation is. What kind of motivation grows well for you and how can you make sure you have an unlimited supply of the seed or know where to get it.
2. How do you get the soil ready for planting?
Of course, like farming, this will depend on the type of seed you're planting. You might need to research articles for how to do the new thing you're trying out. You might need to sign up for lessons or a class. You might need group exercise classes or a new home workout DVD. You might need to create a vision wall or collect a virtual folder of all the motivational posters and pictures you've collected (my background on my computer at work changes every 30 minutes with a new motivational picture from my folder). You might need to set out a plan, create a workout calendar and buy some glittery stickers. Know what tools you'll need to get yourself ready to develop this new batch of motivation you're going to grow.
3. Know how to grow, harvest and store your crop.
Again, it will depend on what you're using. Use folders on your computer, create a Pinterest pinboard with all the motivational pictures, write a blog that journals your goals for the month, sign up for a race that's a few months off, sign up for a group class or personal instruction and keep the numbers/sites for where you found the information for that class/group/race so you can go back and do it again whenever you need to.
You also need to know how to grow your crop. Keep going to classes? Take one class and then practice at home once or twice a week before scheduling another? Keep collecting those motivational posters? How is your motivation going to grow. Here's a little hint - it grows from continual attention. Just like crops, you have to continually water your motivation. Some studies have even suggested that talking nicely to your plants can help them grow - why not try talking motivationally to yourself? Continual attention to your crop, your motivation, and continual action that backs it up helps your motivation grow. Create a streak of workouts, of healthy eating days, of days taking supplements and getting all your water in. Continual action, continual attention = growth. Every day you'll feel stronger, more motivated to do it again. Your motivation will grow.
And then you have to know how to harvest your crop. This one's a toughy. PRed your race? Now what? How many blogs have I seen like this over the past year plus? First of all - celebrate!! Throw a party! Do a dance! Write a WHOO-HOO blog! Collect pictures from that day and tape them up on the fridge. Tell everyone you know. Wear your medal around town and get those silly questions on purpose, just so you can answer them. It's time to celebrate what you've done. Whether it was a PR, or the reaching of a goal, know how to celebrate that - even have rewards in mind for when you reach that point. Even if your crop didn't grow as large as you wanted it to, you got some nourishment from it, so celebrate it somehow.
The key is knowing how to celebrate that victory...and then plant another seed. Whether it's signing up for another race or doing something different, you should have already stored those seeds up so you should know by now how to get back to them and plant another. Don't wait. Motivation doesn't grow on it's own! Get another seed in the soil, quick!
4. How do we get rid of weed and crop pests?
That negative comment. That sidelong judgmental look. Those nasty words we feed ourselves about "can't" and "don't want to". Those are weeds. They're the crop pests that kill our motivation - strangle it and destroy all the hard work and time and energy we put into it. Know what your pests and weeds are, and pluck them or spritz them with your own variety of pest-be-gone as soon as you see them! Give yourself a pep talk. Rewater your plant with more motivational juice and show it some love. Don't let your motivation be strangled by a single "bad move". Your crop can overcome a bad storm if you just know how to take care of it. Cover it when it frosts, water it at the right times so as to not burn it in the sun, and get rid of all the nay-sayers so they can nay-ruin your motivation!
5. How do you sell it once it's been grown?
How do we pass our motivation on to others once we've harvested it? Spark is great for this! Post an "I DID IT!" blog about your harvesting experience. A goal met, an obstacle overcome, a PR - whatever it is, sell it to the masses. You won't get any money back, but they might just provide you with the seeds you need to grow your next batch of motivation. Kind words, support and encouragement - all great tools for growing a great motivational crop! Soak it up, till the soil and get ready for the next planting.
Finally, and most importantly:
"Crops depend on water. A good farmer grows crops that use the water that is available. Crops might use a combination of rainfall and irrigation. A farmer wouldn’t grow a crop that needed tons of water in a place where it never rains. He wouldn’t plant a crop that needs to be drier on land that is marshy or doesn’t drain rainwater well."
It's all right there. Don't depend on what others do - do what you do, what you can do with the resources you're provided. A farmer in a dry climate wouldn't continually plant a crop that needed tons of water every single day 15 miles from his house with no car and then wonder why it doesn't grow and just keep planting it again. A crop like that is going to require an extreme amount of attention. Countless trips with the watering can. Who could ever keep up that kind of attention without falling apart (or at least having the rest of their lives crumble)? It's just silly! Plant the best crop for your area!
For example, I would *love* to be able to swim all the time. I love swimming. I'm good at it. And it burns great calories and I can do it for long periods of time without even realizing I've been at it so long. If I could, I'd swim every day. But I live in an area that doesn't have the resources for that. We have one indoor pool that I know of nearby, at the senior center, and my work hours and the pool hours don't mesh. Now I could sign up to do it and take off a lot of time from work, but then my work life would suffer. Or I could sign up in a different town, but then my family life will suffer because I'll be spending so much time driving to the pool so far away that I'd never be home to see them. I have to work with what I have. I have countless hills I can climb, wide open roads, a gym with just enough to get me by - so I'm going to grow a motivational crop that works well in THAT climate. (And then get to the lake as much as possible in the summer! *lol*)
I'm not saying it couldn't be done to devote yourself to something that requires that kind of commitment, but that it has a tendancy to burn out (or you do) because it's hard to keep that up for so long. Rely, instead, on something that can be more easily adapted and grown in your environment. Can't afford the gym? Buy a bunch of workout DVDs at home or find a great walking/running trail nearby. Adapt workouts to the privacy of your yard, your living room. Find great state parks with hiking trails - they're free! Go to your kids' school in the off hours and play on the equipment there - basketball hoops, tennis courts. Do what works for you, for your lifestyle, where you live, and with what you like to do and what keeps your crop growing.
So now that it's January 4th, and many of us are already starting to reconsider our New Year's Resolutions we promised we wouldn't make this year, but did anyhow, I have to ask you -- How are you growing your crop? Did you plant it well? Did you plant the right type? Are you watering it daily? Do you know what kind of "plant food" it needs? What temperature/type of water it needs? How about pests? Do you know what to expect? What are your negative triggers? How do you plan on shooing them away when they arrive? And have you begun thinking about how you will store your seeds for the next crop? Motivation doesn't last forever. It can burn fast and bright, but it has to be harvested and then replanted. Sow and reap, sow and reap constantly. Don't rely upon moldy seeds. Invest in new ones! Start getting to know your soil. Try new things - figure out the science of how your crop works in the soil you've got, and then continually attend to it to help it grow and be ready for the next sowing season.
I'm building my motivational quotes and pictures folder. I'm sticking to each workout because it helps grow my confidence and, thus, my motivation. And when this crop is ready to harvest, I'm going to have to be ready to plant again. The better I get at this cycle (and I do firmly believe it is a cycle), the easier it will be to keep this up for life. Constantly trying to improve myself, do better, be better, and go after what I want.
How's your motivational crop doing today?
*hands you the water pail* Time to water it?
(Farming Source: library.thinkquest.org/T