“Who am I?”
“Who. Am. I?”
I ask myself this question far too often, and not often enough. Depending on my mood or the events leading up to my self-reflection, the answer changes.
When I’m feeling lost, helpless, and disconnected, I respond with, “I don’t know.”
I yell my name during moments of triumph and achievement. “I am Nolan Speaks!” In these moments, I know who I am, and there’s no stopping me.
This morning, I’m lost. I don’t know who I am. I know what I have to do, but my creator is stuck and feels like overeating and binge-watching Netflix. My consumer agrees. Those two bastards have been in cahoots since August.
Now I sit here thinking of ways to feel better, but I recognize that all my ideas are simply avoidance tactics, elaborate as some may be. It’s experience that tells me there’s only one way forward and out of this funk:
Not all the things, just some of them, starting with easy victories that help me regain my confidence. I need to start easy and gain traction over the coming weeks.
Experience also tells me that I habitually take on too much at once, and then retreat when it all comes crashing down, but not this time. I recognize where I went wrong. I learn from the past, I look forward to the future; I can figure this out. I can do this. I will do this.
I am Nolan Speaks! I know who I am.
Of all the things I personally need, a magical motivation pill is at the top of the list. I’m good at staying motivated for a few weeks at a time. When those weeks end though, I hit a slump and feel stuck there for at least as many weeks, if not more.
So yeah, I wish I knew the answer to being and staying motivated. I don’t. Something I’m experimenting with right now though is thinking myself through the slumps. I rewind my brain to the reasons I began in the first place.
It appears to be helping: I’m reminded of the passion, the drive, and the desire to help others and to do good; I’m reminded that when I let go of expectation and embrace the here and now, I have fun and my work improves; I’m reminded of a simpler, more energetic me. And I like that.
On the flip side, focusing on external factors sends me into a downward, bummed-out spiral. Money, what others think of me, who is doing better than me, and “success” (whatever that means), all fit that bill and weigh me down. I lose confidence and focus. And I hate that.
I’m learning that if I want to stay motivated, I have to stay true to me. I have to identify the areas and behaviors that make me happy, and remember the simple things that make me tick.
What is it that motivates you? Take a minute and think through it. I know plenty of writers and business people who find motivation from their peers and competing companies. They see what they’re doing, are inspired by it, and it helps them produce their own art.
I also know writers, entrepreneurs, teachers, artists, etc. who find that exact thing to be demotivating. I fall into that category. Listening to and observing people in other professions is more motivating and interesting to me that those within my own genre.
That doesn’t mean I don’t network within my peer group, but rather, I don’t follow their work as closely as I would the work of someone doing something completely different. The more I follow my peers’ work, the more I feel unoriginal, and the harder it is to contribute.
Finding art and contribution outside of my sphere is what motivates me the most and inspires me to do and be something different.