Pom in Oz: Motivation can be a case of ‘just do it’

Dangling a carrot
Camera IconDangling a carrot Credit: BrianAJackson/Getty Images/iStockphoto, BrianAJackson

What motivates us in our day-to-day lives and in our goals and aspirations to better ourselves? Do we need motivation or can discipline get us through the tough times?

Much of society today is focused on striving — for better grades, a raise or promotion, fitness achievements, and more.

Teachers, business managers, and even community leaders are looking for ways to motivate people. The internet is littered with motivation videos, tips and self-help courses — all designed to help us find that motivation we all apparently need.

As my own children grow older, I look and spend time thinking about how to motivate them to make good choices, to make healthy choices. Should I pay them to do jobs around the house, or just expect them to do their bit?

Even as a teacher, I struggle sometimes to inspire them to do their best on their school work.

The same can often apply in the workplace: Does extra financial reward encourage employees to perform better? And at the gym: What’s the ideal to encourage members to stick to an exercise routine or even to turn up at all? And at the local community level: Should we put measures in place to motivate people to recycle?

So there are basically two definitions. No.1 — intrinsic motivation — is when you do something because you find it satisfying or rewarding, such as going for a run because you enjoy the experience; reading a good book simply because you enjoy it; or perhaps gardening because you like to get out in the fresh air.

Then there’s extrinsic motivation, which occurs when your actions are pushed by a reward such as getting 10¢ when you return a drinks can at the local collection point; doing some extra hours at work because you get double time; or going to the gym for one more day because you are in line to win the “spirit” award for your local gym.

And then there is the third, less-talked-about, “option” — pure and simple discipline. I guess this may apply more to physical activity but parallels can be drawn to other tasks as well.

What do we do when we simply do not want to do “it”? We don’t want to go for the run, we don’t want to go to CrossFit or the boxing gym?

What do we do when even the base level of self-motivation is lacking or missing altogether?

Well for me, that’s why I end up going to CrossFit no matter what — discipline and routine.

Some mornings I get up at 4.30am and drag myself to the gym because that’s what I do — I go because I go.

The same can be applied to my kids and their chores, their homework and their piano practice. They do it because they do it. There’s no need to question why, there’s no real need to apply a reward — because that’s life and there are certain tasks that need performing.

I am not saying there is no place at all for motivation, of course not. But not the the level at which we seek today. Sometimes it’s just as simple as “suck it up princess” and get on with it. Why?

Because that’s the way it is!

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