What they don’t tell you about Motivation

When did all of this ‘motivation’, ‘empowerment’, ‘networking’, ‘socializing’ talk become trendy? Is this just another fad? Do we want a shortcut to success by imitating those who have achieved it? Do we know the real circumstances that surround a ‘successful’ individual?

Have you considered their environment and the people he/she got to know? How much of it is luck? Can we imitate failure as well?

I don’t have the answers to any of those questions. Nevertheless, I believe it is worthwhile thinking about them. A theory of mine is that business schools started this trend in some kind of frenzied competition to see how they could increase the number of registrations. After all, who doesn’t want to know how to be successful and happy? It is presumed that successful people are happy because of their success. But we really don’t know how happy they were before they created their fortune. Furthermore, how can we quantify happiness? Or motivation?

What I am proposing here is that, prior to setting yourself on the path of ‘motivation’, start with a simple self-assessment. This is important because otherwise you can set goals that will lead you somewhere you really did not want to be. And then, all the effort, time and resources you put into getting there would have been wasted.


Here is a simple algorithm, if you will, abstracted from the multiple philosophies I have read about. Among them are: Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism, to mention a few.

First: Asses your present ‘you’

We should start by looking at ourselves in the present moment. Then, and only then, when we are able to feel our heart rate, our blood flowing, the mere sense of breathing, is when we can start clarifying our own ideas. Clear your mind. Silence the multiple loud conversations in your head and start focusing in your present level of happiness.

Second: Make an inventory of things you are grateful for

Before going any further, make an inventory of your own blessings. Can you walk? Can you see? Can you read? Do you know someone who was affected by your own mistakes? Make the effort to find within your present circumstance the little things that make you who you are. The things that make you happy. It could be someone that cares for you; who can see in you whatever you’re still looking for. Chances are that if you are reading this article from your smartphone you already have more resources than 70% of the people in the planet.

Third: Let’s get real

These buzzwords about motivation, goals, and achievements can’t be forced into our heads or circumstances. Each person has their very own particular path. Yes you can aim to be whatever you want, but let’s get real, if I am 44 years old with an injured knee, I can’t aim to be a professional basketball player. Come on! that would be just setting myself up for misery and frustration. However, even it that was possible, while being a professional basketball player could be cool, maybe I wouldn’t be fulfilled by it. Maybe at my present moment I wouldn’t want to sacrifice all my time training. So I get real. What can I do today? Even if it’s a very small thing, like getting together with one of my friends to share a beer and bitch about a fight I had with my girlfriend. Something that small could end up helping me liberate my mind from the mood is in, and in doing so, I can get a clearer perspective on what is really important. And what if we start from the point where we say: well it’s time to accept myself for who I am. And from there, think and think and think some more on what it is that I want. Most of our issues arise because we either don’t have a clear idea of what we want, or we simply act in contradictory ways to get somewhere we’re not really sure we want to get to.

In conclusion, by clearing our minds, we are in a better position to see what makes us happy. Once we reach this level of self awareness, we can start thinking about what we want next,  and enjoying the journey starting now. Along the way, our goals may change in order to make us even happier and more fulfilled. But let’s focus on the day to day, and make this moment a good one, or at least, a peaceful one. Don’t get stuck seeking validation from others or from society as a whole. At the end of the day, how can we be sure that they are happier than us right now? How can we measure our own happiness or unhappiness? How can we know for sure that they don’t have a cheating husband or wife, or an abusive parent, or health issues? Let’s stop bullshitting ourselves. Allow yourself to be as unhappy or happy as you presently are. Just be.

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