While they might sound like opposites, motivation and perseverance are more like cousins.
We throw our hands up when the need for perseverance arises, sure that we are on the wrong track. We quit on motivation way before it quits on us.
Too often, we make the foolish assumption that motivation is the absence of perseverance – some sort of magic that side-steps all the obstacles. This simply isn’t how the world works.
Fighting through the pit of despair is like giving the Heimlich maneuver to motivation. Refusing to give up, to let in, to quit, is a choice we have to make. The magic is in overcoming the obstacles not in avoiding them.
The best way to discover and sustain motivation is to name your values. Self-awareness is a powerful tool for unlocking the mysteries of motivation.
If I can name my values, I can reframe the question of motivation around those values. For example, if I have a high value for productivity, I can say, “Alright, writing 500 words today is productive.” If I have a high value for truth, I can say, “Alright, I have to start writing to find the nuggets of truth.” When we can connect perseverance with value, we have come to the very definition of motivation.
We are so afraid to fail that is much safer to not even try. This is the real heart of why I did not write every day. I thought it needed to be good to be worth my time and I thought only the mystic divinity of inspiration could make something good.
It was so freeing to convince myself that if I wrote something bad, I could just throw it out. No one would see. No one would know. It wouldn’t matter. And I’ve thrown out plenty.
But while I’ve thrown out a lot of words, I haven’t wasted any. The failed sentences helped me discover the right ones. Seeing a sentence out of order is sometimes the first step to saying something right.
If we would just have the courage to try, we are guaranteed to find some hint of truth to what we attempt. Even if it was just the courage of the attempt itself. It allows the next to be better. It gives us the value of experience and opens the door to our next endeavors.
The courage to take a risk is an essential element of motivation.