I am essentially a lazy being. I am genetically designed for lying round eating and absorbing the dregs of popular culture. I am more than capable of spending hours in my own company doing very little. Somehow I have managed to get a life. I have a good job, which I love, I have friends who I also love and I have, moved to a new country, which I have also loved. So how do I motivate myself to do these things when my default setting would be lazy?
I have been considering my motivations, what are the things which push me to change, to work, to get out of bed? Sometimes I have been motived by a darker part of me; fear, shame, confusion, sadness. Does it matter what brings you here as long as you make the journey? I came to Brazil, left my settled life, motivated by a number of things, some of them came from a darker place inside me, some were positive. My life was stale, I was travelling down a road I didn’t like, my destination was not what I wanted for myself. I needed something different, a new challenge to wake up my tired brain, heart and soul.
I am sometimes motivated by anger, a desire to show the world what I was worth and what I was capable of. I have been motivated by sadness, frustration and loss. By the need to escape and leave those feelings as far behind me as I can.
I have been motivated by ego by wanting adoration, adulation and acclaim. I have been motivated by a genuine desire to do the right thing, to do good, to make a difference, to help to support others. Sometimes my motivation is selfless, sometimes not always.
There is another motivation, one that a single childless selfish being like me struggles with. That is the morivation just to do something just because it would make someone else happy. I generally do what ever pleases me but I am learning and trying to be motivated by a true and valuable desire to bring joy to someone else.
But I am selective and that is what I am concerned with. When I am motivated I can get things done. I can find reserves of energy, I can be reliable, smart and organised. How to motivate yourself for a task you don’t want to do? How to motivate others to be part of something they aren’t really interested in? How to motivate children to value their education, to forget the exciting world of a 15 year old and concentrate on the periodic table?
I have seen teachers become angry that their pupils aren’t motivated, that they are ungrateful for this great gift of education we share with them. Motivation isn’t a given, it can’t be imposed from outside; it comes from your heart and mind being connected together.
Some people are motivated by fear of others judgements, they seek approval. Maybe this will motivate our pupils to work too. What kind of result does this motivation bring? I don’t believe it is genuine, it’s lacks solidity. You have to believe.
I’ve been on many diets, motivated for a time to lose weight, to follow a plan. I remember one of the diet gurus saying ‘If you were offered a million pounds to lose 3 stone, you’d probably do it. So you have the capacity to lose the weight you just need to find the right motivation.’ My motives to lose weight were always about the judgement of the world so I never succeeded. I don’t diet now, I never did lose weight but I’m a hell of a lot happier!
So what are the key elements to be motivated? A truthful and genuine desire for change? One that comes from deep inside and is not imposed or surface? Something which is inside you and not designed to meet another’s unrealistic expectations?
The pupils I worked with in England, entrenched in their dysfunctional, fractured lives, were not motivated by fairy tales of ‘good GCSE results’ or a better job. The only thing that motivated these boys was the true and sincere pleasure of success. I was their cheerleader spurring them on; celebrating each unique achievement undeterred by government imposed arbitrary levels, grades or criteria.
So how do I find a way for my pupils to be motivated? We have to understand our core purpose and work for it. My change, my motivation, for moving away was confused and mixed up, but as the English fog in my mind has cleared and the sun shines on my new vibrant life, my motivation becomes clearer.