Motivation: Part 1 – Get a Goal

I wrote my last post A Wishful Vagabond having read Rolf Potts’Vagabonding book in one day, just a few hours even.Ironically, I tried to read this same book during my Christmas vacation abroad where I did nothing other than sit in the sun by the pool for two weeks. I couldn’t get past the first 20 pages.

Why then, was I suddenly able to storm through this (very interesting) book? No, it was not that the first 20 pages were dull, or that page 21 blew my mind or even that I didn’t want to read it and had to *force *myself into doing so.In reality, it was because I knew I wanted to write about it on this blog.I knew I wanted to share some ideas I had of travelling, a subject extremely close to my heart.However, I did not only want to give my subjective personal opinions on the topic, but instead wanted to be able to review this book in order for readers to gain something useful from my post.Perhaps one of you may read this book.Perhaps one of you now may not.Either way, I had a goal in mind and *that *is what made me read the book.

I read quickly. I am an English graduate and am used to filtering large amounts of text into useful information. I knew I could read the book in a short space of time, I *wanted *to read the book to find out what information it had to offer – I knew it couldn’t be awful or Tim Ferris would not have recommended it – and I knew it would be useful for my own future travel plans.I simply had no motivation to read it whilst on holiday – I was much more intent on doing literally nothing.When I then returned to London and reality set back in, I realised I had limited time and therefore made the most of the few spare hours I had so that I could publish my post when I wanted.

This has been something I’ve dwelt on in the past week, and I’ve realised that I am only slowly discovering what truly motivates me. I know that I lack motivation to do so many things I love. What a strange idea.How does that even make sense? Partly, I do think I’m just intrinsically lazy. However, I am also extremely strong willed and disciplined when it comes to things I love.

One of the things closest to my heart is martial arts. I’m currently training for a martial arts competition and in preparation I have been dieting, limiting alcohol, going to the gym more, training in martial arts more and deliberately getting more sleep.As a direct result of this, I have vastly improved my cooking skills as I force myself to eat more healthily, saved large amounts of money that otherwise would be spent on crap food and alcohol, become much more organised in managing my time as I have to make additional efforts to prepare food in advance, and also found that in forcing myself to train and exercise so much I value and am more productive in those evenings I have spare.

In doing all this preparation for the one specific goal of competing well I have gained so much that I would otherwise not have.The amazing thing is, even if I do terribly in the competition, I will *still *have achieved a lot. Okay, so we’re not talking about climbing Everest, but on a small-time personal level, these are loads of bonus achievements which I would otherwise have taken ages to get my arse into gear and do.

So I say set yourself a challenge. Enter a competition; audition for that play; go to that art class. Not only will you find it extremely rewarding taking part in a hobby you either love or may just want to try for the first time, but you will learn so much from the experience.How many times have you said “I’ll get fit this year” and then come December nothing’s changed? Set yourself a specific goal and it will motivate you to achieve all the more. You will be able to measure your success better, set more realistic time scales, and reap the rewards of having that gained experience at the end of it, no matter what the outcome. Don’t be mistaken – I’m not a ‘winning doesn’t matter, it’s the taking part that counts’ kind of person. But in the long run, the more you ‘take part’, the more likely you are to win. Don’t let yourself down again this year – set that goal, and, even if you fail, in*trying *to achieve it you will gain more than you might expect along the way.

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week. I don’t think the concept of motivation can be dissected enough as I feel that there is more value in examining it and breaking it down than appears at first glance. I plan to further discuss how personal sacrifice comes into play in achieving those end goals you set yourself, and the (perhaps more familiar in martial arts circles) friendly concept of ‘good pain’. ;)