• Cat Young

Part 1 Motivation -- “Keep the fire burning”



--- Motivation is the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way. It is a fascinating human behavior because the majority of the time it answers the proposed ‘why’ questions.

Plenty of times I ask myself...

  • “Why do I do the things I do?”

  • “Why do I care to do these things?”

  • “Why do I have a desire to achieve these goals?”

I find these questions come to mind more frequently when I am feeling unusually unproductive and unmotivated.

[For myself, these could be times when I have an overwhelming amount of tasks or priorities for school or work, and these tasks seem small or insignificant. These could be times when my family or relationships demand more of my attention and distract me from my workload. These could be times when my stamina simply dies down and the workload loses appeal.]

I know I am not alone in saying that maintaining motivation is difficult. It is not a simple task, nor is there a simple solution to generating sustainable actions. As time progresses and our lives move forward, motivations will come and go. Facing this reality, it is important to establish a healthier practice in approaching the low motivational times. With these next two blog posts, I look to bring a new perspective on how to cultivate and maintain motivation. With my insight, I hope to share a positive image of motivation.

Typically I find the conversation of motivation to occur when ambition is low. It is one of those, “you didn’t realize you had it until it was gone” situations. Motivation from an American perspective normally isn’t talked about until someone says they feel ‘unproductive’ or ‘unmotivated’. The words ‘unproductive’ or ‘unmotivated’ tend to have negative connotations to them, especially from an American point of view. The pressure to “keep the fire burning” instills a fear of the “unproductive” moments. While it may have been initiated as a motivational phrase, the saying “keep the fire burning” actually instigates a sense of panic to maintain a pace that may not be sustainable. The underlying panic is to exceed an expectation to continually feed the fire; to continually harvest firewood; to continually go through the motions. ---“Keep the fire burning” can translate to a robotic and repetitive pattern that occurs at a rapid pace. ---

To “keep the fire burning,” there needs to be an understanding of ‘why’ this fire is burning. From the point of view of any expert outdoorsman, fire is the source of survival. Believe me, sit down with any spirited mountaineer and ask them the importance of fire building, and I guarantee you will leave the conversation having more knowledge than may be necessary. Embedded in the passions of an outdoorsman is a motivation to survive. It is the simplest and most fundamental of motivations. It is a motivation that may seem unnecessary to the ordinary person, however motivating for fundamental survival brings a whole new perspective to life. As mentioned before, the underlying panic projected by the phrase “keep the fire burning” induces a drive to maintain motivation out of the pure fear of failing. That is not a sustainable motivation. That is a motivation that dwindles until it burns out.

Inevitably, the fire will run cold, and the embers will die off. Just as motivation dies down, or ambitions lose appeal. It is completely acceptable for a fire to die off, because a new flame is never too far away. It is not shameful to have moments of standstill or moments of stagnation. It is indeed crucial to pause, or reset in life, because these moments of stillness bring new perspectives.

With a mentality to maintain this fire to simply survive, I recognize the motivation to be more sincere. The fire burns because it is an essential part of progression. The intention derives from a place of passion. “Keep the fire burning” because there is no will to survive without it;

there is no meaning to the work without it;

there is no joy without the burning fire.

--- Rather than translating the phrase “keep the fire burning” into a quick robotic and repetitive pattern, think of this phrase as a motivation to survive.--- By recognizing a new perspective on a commonly used phrase, there is an opportunity to recultivate a positive and sustainable motivation. The argument is not to maintain simplicity in life, rather to challenge the essentials and redefine motivation.

I suggest that during the times of low ambition, return to those survival instincts. Cultivate what is deemed absolutely necessary and start again from there.

readings to consider--

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