“If…Then…” vs Creative Motivation

May 17, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Ramblings, Work | Leave a comment
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Barton in New Hampshire

Connection and service are a vital in our work.

Recently, Barton has been reading Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink, which dispels illusions about motivation. Research has found that motivators such as money or the use of positive rewards actually hinder performance. Why? People work best and are actually more creative, inventive and advance further when there is an underlying passion or belief about the work.

The past few weeks, we’ve had discussions about motivation in our own lives and these discussions have caused me to take a long look at what I was taught about motivation and how I can begin to shift these patterns to create more authentic patterns in the drive behind my work and my life.

One of the patterns I realized I was living into is the “if…then…” philosophy. If I can accomplish this, then I can do that. If I can finish this project, then I can work on my manuscript. If we had this much money, then I could do that. And it goes on and on. The underlying issue is the belief that at the end of the day, I have to accomplish a list of realistic, tangible goals that meet objective- but whose objectives and what do they really have to do with my values?

As a child, often our motivation is to please our parents, and this was certainly true in my case. Further impressed by switching houses between divorced parents so frequently, it was much later in my childhood development when I found a sense of independence. When I graduated from college, I had expecting to be married right away, and when that didn’t happen the way I thought, I found myself clinging to a 8-5 job, pushing away the creativity that had sustained me throughout my youth. It wasn’t until after my mother passed away that I truly began to ask myself about what was the vision in my work and personal life.

Writing in North Georgia.

Creative journaling workshops gives others the space to find their own voice.

The last year, I have found that the more I live into my creativity and value it as a precious gift that is meant to open the space for others to find their own voice, the more authentic I am both in my work and in my life. Over and over I had denied this creative aspect of myself for the approval of family or mentors or those around me. This illusion reeked havoc on the belief in my own goals, talents and visions.

As Barton and I move forward both independently and collaboratively on new projects and goals, we are also shifting the motivators in our lives. Yes, we need to pay the bills to sustain our family, but the primary motivation has to be something deeper than that. We are finding a new passion in our work.

For Mother’s Day, I spent the afternoon with Barton painting, something I had not given myself permission to do in a long time, and last night, Barton wrote an exquisite poem that blew me away. He had to give himself permission to write, apart from other work projects. Just as I must give myself permission to work on creative projects in tandem with projects that support our family.

It’s not easy to shift these patterns, but it’s slowing me down, helping me to take a look at the fundamental values in my life, respecting my talents and vision or mission and opening up the possibilities in entirely new ways.

What are the deeper layers of motivation in your life?

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