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Something Better than Motivation

Saturday, October 02, 2010

We hear a lot of talk about motivation...and I was fooled by that scoundrel just like everyone else...thinking that it was the key to losing weight, but finding myself continually frustrated as it slipped through my fingers and vanished. At those points, I would just kind of excuse myself as I stopped exercising and tracking my foods by using my absence of motivation as sort of an excuse...("Please excuse Cynthia for not meeting her calorie goals; the dog ate her motivation....")

Then I read an amazing blog the other day. It was on the list of the top blogs of the day, and rightfully so. This blog radically changed my thinking on motivation. (plesae see the link at the bottom) The writer exposed motivation for the cowardly imposter that it is: coming and going, abandoning us when the going gets tough etc,.

So I started thinking... What is it then that we REALLY need to keep us on track...Something that is more dependable and more trustworthy? Well, I don't know about you, but for me, it's (drumroll please....) FOCUS. And focus is something that we can make a part of our very character. With motivation that's really impossible. Because motiivation is fleeting...like an emotion. And while a certain emotion can be more prevalent in one person than in another (like joy for instance), they are never a RULE with us. They can never be said to be true of us AT ALL TIMES. Nor are they things that we can MAKE true of ourselves....They kind of just happen. Just like motivation. Now you see it; now you don't...and you never known when it will choose to make its nest in your hair again.

Now, while it's true that a person CAN temporarily lose their focus, it is something that... unless they have a mental illness and have temporarily lost the ability to reason...we can regain with a little bit of thought and effort. And focus can become PART of us. With some practice, we can weave it into the very fibers of our being.

So, what can focus do for us? How can it be attained and maintained? What happens if we don't have it?

I think I'll start with the last question first.
For me, focus is really something I need to work on. I'm kind of a creative person who is blessed/cursed with a pretty quick intellect. So this can be tough to manage, because it means that I can be bombarded with a thousand really good ideas at one time...and because I also have that kind of typical creative flightiness, many of those ideas go undeveloped or are never acted upon. That's why, on my signature for SparkPeople, I have two quotes about self-discipline. Because that is something I really need to consciously work on having...and that makes sense, doesn't it? Because focus is a HUGE part of self-discipline.

So how does focus affect a weight loss plan or our efforts to live a healthy life? Well, as anyone knows whose been on this website for more than five minutes; Goal setting and keeping is a huge part of this way of life. Self disciplined, focused people set goals. And when they set a goal, they will put 100% of themselves into attaining that goal. And that's what FOCUS really is. Involving everything we are, have, and do in an effort to attain a goal. But, as I mentioned in one of my recent blogs (see "Goal-setting; Schmoal-setting"), I tend to have a hundred "great idea" goals bombarding me at any one time...And I cannot pursue any of them with any kind of focus, because there are simply too MANY of them to keep track of. And if a person's energy is limited (as mine certainly is: then spread that finite amount over a huge area, and it gets pretty thin at any given point.

So here we find one major aspect of focus which we can consciously apply to our goal setting...and the concept is true for every other area of our lives. If we want to do something well, it needs all of our attention and effort (or a lot of it anyway) and the only way to give it that is to limit the number of things we are trying to do at any given time. This is also very true of the "small picture" as well as the "big picture". While multi-tasking is rampant in this scattered society...and while any woman will try to tell you that she can listen to her husband talk, while she diapers the baby and watches TV at the same time....the truth is that NONE of these things will get accomplished very well. Because her finite attention is divided between at least three items. Do the math.

So if we are not focused, we will not accomplish our efforts and pursuits with any great skill or success.

Now, again speaking as a creative person who can be a little scattered and flighty sometimes , especially in the attention department: once a person attempts to do too many things at once, or to do something without giving it their full attention, and it begins to fail or to suffer from their incomplete effort, it is REALLY easy to then lose interest in it and wander on to something else. How many of you know what I"m talking about. The diet begins to not do so well...so you say, well, maybe that diet just isn't so good...and you decide to try something else? Or maybe you really aren't progressing in your ability to play the guitar (maybe because you are simultaneously learning four other instruments)...so you think, "I guess I'm just really not gifted at this instrument, " and your attentions wander to your next venture. So the result? NO PROJECT OR GOAL EVER GETS COMPLETED. and you not only don't do it well, you eventually stop doing it at all.

And when something is not going well (because you aren't focused in your attempt to carry it out), it is really easy to get bored with it, isn't it? That's because you aren't getting any of the rewards which would come with accomplishment. Both the internal satisfaction of gaining ground and also the new opportunities that would begin to present themselves as a result of your growing success...For example, now maybe you can begin too travel, because you can fit into an airplane seat...or you can start to excell at Karate, because now you are lighter on your feet and can move with greater ease, as your weight loss goal begins to be met. But if you are going nowhere fast, the same old scenery gets really dull after awhile. And boredom, along with failure, is another huge factor why people abandon their efforts.

So a focused person is a person who is rarely bored, even though they may be pursuing less things at any given time; they are meeting with success...and success brings with it opportunity and rewards. And those things are never boring!

So, I don't know about you, but I am going to re-evaluate my program here at Spark to determine whether or not it is focused....And if it isn't? or I my approach to it hasn't been? Then Why? and What is keeping me from being focused??

And let me just conclude by saying that, often our level of focus is determined by our level of desire. If it is something that you want passionately, then you will be focused about it at least as far as in giving it all your attention and effort. But then you just have to make sure that your EFFORTS are also focused and that they are getting the maximum amount of benefit possible in exchange for your energy. So first of all, before doing any thing else...ask yourself, "HOW BADLY DO I WANT THIS??" and if your answer is "not really much", then save yourself the time and energy and find something to pursue that you really really want. But if you REALLY want to get healthy and to be at a healthy weight, then be encouraged because that's half the battle. And to retain your focus, it is a good idea to go back and to remind yourself of that desire and it's power. That is why we put up goal outfits in our plain sight. To remind us of how VERY much we want to get our bodies into them....

So Keep WANTING and keep your eyes fixed on your goal...and don't allow anything else to wander into your line of sight and distract you from your focus. www.sparkpeople.com/mypa
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Great blog. I like that you found an alternative to motivation. I, too, know very well how fleeting motivation can be, but somehow you just have to keep going. I can also relate to the multi-tasking and multiple interests that keep me from truly engaging in something whole heartily.
    3640 days ago
  • no profile photo CD7658463
    Great Post !!!

    3640 days ago
    Great blog, Cynthia. I like the idea of focusing rather than motivating. Focusing comes from within; motivating comes from without.
    3641 days ago
    wonderderful thinking. I think it is easy to lose focus at times but think of what is accomplished through focus - college degrees are not earned through motivatation but by focusing on the end goal. Thanks for pointing that out.
    3643 days ago
  • no profile photo CD7658463
    Wow, what a wonderful blog. I haven't been reading much of lately but you have such nice things to say.

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3643 days ago
  • VXWALL1942
    As usual, an excellent blog. I will keep my eyes on the result while enjoying the passion to get there.
    3643 days ago
    great blog!
    3644 days ago
    Great blog! I sometimes have my energy very scattered and end up achieving nothing so I have learned that focus is very very important. Thanks for writing! And keep on focusing!
    3644 days ago
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