When you live and breathe a subject for as many years as I have, it’s very easy to take things for granted. Many of the questions I get about how to apply mindset are things that I’ve personally been through, but have made the assumption that because I understand, so does everyone else.
With the 1,000’s of new people joining the mindset community, I have to remember that the stuff that seems basic to me now was very difficult at one time. We could all stand to remember that in different areas of our lives, but for now, it applies to a question I got this last week via email.
“Hello PJ McClure,
I have 2 final papers to complete at 31 August 2011 in my program for a professional certificate in human resources management. For the past two weeks I have fallen into a valley of de-motivation. How can you help me please?
Man oh man, have I lived this one! At 33, I went back to school at the “suggestion” of my boss at the time. I didn’t like the idea of formal education and had built a pretty healthy resentment toward the entire institution. The fact that I failed miserably right out of high school didn’t help, but I had managed to get jobs and make the kind of money for which people told me I need a degree. “In your face!”
The wise sage that he was, my boss simply said, “In order to make it in the corporate circles you are headed for, you need a degree.” He made it clear that this was not an option and he didn’t care what the degree was. I mention this to begin my answer for the question above.
My original motivation for being in school was job related. More like, keeping my job related. Any time I lost motivation, I went back to why I was there. This is where R.B. needs to start.
“Why are you in this program to begin with?”
“What do you hope to accomplish by acquiring the certificate?”
Nothing on the outside can motivate us long-term, but that is where most of our original motivation begins. Motivation that lasts is purely internal. It is a well we can repeatedly draw from to get us through these valleys.
After a few classes I began to notice changes. Not in what I knew, but in how I acted. I saw the degree process as less of an academic pursuit than as a refining ground for my personality. The academics were coming easily but the interpersonal element with my professors and classmates demanded more than I brought to the table.
To make the most of what was happening in the classroom; I had to treat people differently than my brash, youngest-guy-in-the-boardroom, at work attitude. The experience made me place more value on the process than the degree itself. I also defined my deeper motivation. My internal well.
Recognizing the years lost to my defensive posture and hair-trigger temper, I saw the man my children would inherit if I didn’t change. Each class assignment became an exercise in becoming a better man, not a better student or employee. Any dips in motivation were easily corrected by a trip to my well.
Look at the original reason for beginning the certificate process, R.B. Why is it important to you and what is the deepest, most meaningful reason you have for pursuing this path? Look there for lasting motivation.
As for the papers themselves, don’t overcomplicate what needs done. What is the purpose of the paper? What information needs conveyed? Make the outline and then go find the information to fill it in. Be efficient and deliberate with your effort and you’ll find yourself done quicker than you imagined.
Does anyone else have advice for R.B. in this situation? What have you worked through that is similar?
Be your best,