Setting goals and accomplishing them brings satisfaction and fulfillment. Most people know how triumphant we feel when we complete something we intended to do.
But what happens when the motivation to accomplish wears out? When we find ourselves procrastinating by checking Facebook, drinking another cup of coffee, or finding frittering away our time?
How do we keep the motivation going?
It seems that the key is knowing what inspires us. Inspiration is different from motivation. Inspiration comes from purpose. Purpose comes from knowing who we are, what we have to offer, and how we can make the world a better place.
Inspiration is sustaining. It energizes us. Motivation can be energizing for awhile, but it also wears out.
As a more-than-fulltime volunteer for a 501(c)(3) not for profit educational organization, I spent nearly 40 years learning how inspiration provides sustenance. Now I am learning how to apply that to the business world, recognizing the monetary value as well.
Since 1979, I have invested my time and energy as a student and teacher with the School of Metaphysics, a 501(c)(3) educational and service organization. One unique feature of this organization is that 100% of the staff people are volunteers. This includes all of the teachers, the office staff, the administrators … everyone!
The school’s ideal is “to aid any individual, willing to put for the effort, to become a Whole, Functioning Self, not dependent on any other person, place or thing for peace, contentment and security.” The course of study is a structured series of lessons with daily mental disciplines. Students learn to bring forth their full potential through developing essential life skills, such as self respect, undivided attention, concentration, memory, listening, imagination, reasoning, intuition, and breath.
As a volunteer teacher and administrator I discovered that when the only motivation for teaching is love for one’s fellow human beings, s/he develops valuable qualities such as patience, compassion, unconditional love, respect, and acceptance.
What keeps someone involved with an organization when he or she is not getting paid? The payment comes in another form: personal fulfillment while aiding others. We can find a clue in research done by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross who researched people who were dying. Universally, at the end of a lifetime, people ask themselves three questions: “Did I give and receive love? Did I become all that I could be? Did I leave the world a little bit better?”
Contributing our talents and energies to a good cause gives us a way to answer these questions in the affirmative, every day, rather than waiting to look back at the end of life when it may be too late.
My motivation for teaching what I had learned was gratitude. I was so grateful that my teachers were willing to give selflessly, and I received such profound benefits from the course of study, that I wanted everyone in the world to have it. Even when I had little experience, that passion and desire to share with others what I had learned, and the appreciation for what I had been given, made me a very good teacher.
Now that I have been teaching for over 30 years, I am still moved by gratitude and desire for everyone to have what I have! The innocence and joy that moved me in the beginning have matured into wisdom, still inspired by joy and love for the teachings.
I am also discovering that receiving monetary compensation for sharing what I know enables me to reach more people in more ways. The inspiration is just as strong. The motivation for turning a passion into a business is to have even more to give to the world.
For people to stay motivated, it requires having a strong ideal and purpose. Each individual needs to have a personal ideal and purpose that is strong, and all of us need to be aligned with the school’s overall ideal and purpose.
An ideal is more than a goal. Ideals are transcendent, images of the highest one can imagine becoming. A goal is physical. So, for example, one of my ideals is to be a clear voice for truth. I use this as a kind of internal compass when faced with decisions, when I need to be a mediator in a meeting, when I am called to speak at a conference, when I am asked for counsel, advice, or direction from a client.
A goal is something with a physical manifestation, such as buying a new or signing up 100 people for a seminar, or writing a book. When people have physical goals but are unclear about the transcendent ideals, they can become unmotivated once they have accomplished the goal. Waiting to decide, “what’s next?” can be depleting.
Motivation wears out when we have goals without purpose. Purpose is “who am I becoming in the process of living my ideal and accomplishing my goal.” So, my purpose for being a mediator is to bring light, awareness, into the communication. My purpose for writing my next book is to understand more deeply how to communicate in ways that anyone can comprehend.
When people know why they are doing what they are doing, not just a physical reason, but because they want to improve themselves, give their talents and gifts, develop new skills or understanding, then the motivation to complete a task deepens into the inspiration to reach higher and farther, and to give more completely.
When you give, you receive, so those who give more completely also receive more deeply. The reward is more permanent than money, because it is one of character development that lasts forever.
When people create together with a common ideal, the relationships people form are very deep, fulfilling, and enriching. People love to be invested in a worthy endeavor that produces self-growth while aiding other people.