What is motivation?
Motivation is a tricky thing. Some men seem to have an endless supply of it, while others can’t seem to pry themselves off the couch. Most people seem to think motivation is a finite source that only some were blessed with. That’s not true. Our society lacks motivated men because our society produces “men without chests” as C.S. Lewis very eloquently describes in his book The Abolition of Man. We don’t celebrate virtue, so have men without virtue. Because we have a deficiency of virtuous men, we have a deficiency of men with purpose.
More often than not we conflate a lack of motivation with a lack of purpose, but that isn’t always the case. Most of us are just as likely to call a young man playing too many video games unmotivated as we are a man dealing with depression- albeit in much different capacities. In reality, the young man isn’t unmotivated; rather, his motives fall more in line with something most would (I believe rightfully so) would call unproductive. Leveling up in a video game isn’t an easy or mind-numbing task, but it also isn’t one that creates true value. In most cases, though not all, both of our examples are afflicted with the same issue: a lack of purpose.
The Ease of Comfort
What is motivation really but an attempt to escape discomfort? Animals are motivated to hunt so they don’t starve. We’re motivated to flinch or run to avoid pain. When put into this context, our aversion to purpose can become clear. Men of today are very often tempted with an abundance of comfort, especially with the advent of remote work. I myself have fallen into the trap of waking up just in time to ‘clock in’, do my job with more than a few breaks in between, then find myself slumping from the desk to the couch as soon as 5pm hits to turn on the TV or play on my phone. Nowadays comfort comes easy, and it evaporates motivation.
That’s why it’s so important to understand our purpose as men. If we view motivation as a wind that pushes our sails when it blows, then we inevitably become dead in the water when it stops. That’s why we need to create our own motivation, and we do that with purpose.
When we orient our minds towards a goal or purpose, we provide our own wind. We learn to become uncomfortable in stagnation, and it moves us towards accomplishment.
If you’re feeling lost, then finding purpose is the first step you have to take. It’s also arguably one of the most difficult things to do.
Use the following to help guide you.
Finding Your Purpose
Take time to look at yourself and who you are
Chances are you’ve already begun to do this, which is why you’re here. Keep doing it. Never stop doing it. You need to constantly be evaluating the kind of man you are. Find a secluded place, get rid of all distractions, and write down answers to the following questions:
- What kind of man am I? Am I satisfied with that?
- What kind of value do I provide to my family/community? Am I satisfied with that?
- Why am I satisfied with it? If you’re not, why is that?
Really take the time to look at yourself and think about who you are at this point in time.
Who do you want to be?
Everyone has an idea of the person they want to become somewhere in their head. There are various masculine traits that you’ve idolized from the heroes you’ve read about as a kid or met throughout your life. Once you look at yourself in this moment, you can think about who you want to be. Ask yourself these questions:
- What kind of man do I want to be?
- What kind of husband do I want to be?
- What kind of father do I want to be?
- When I engage with people in my community, what do I want to be doing?
- How am I making my money? How much money?
- What does your physical presence look like?
What are you going to do about it?
Finally – and this is the most important part – what are you going to do about it? What can you do to meet your goals? Is it joining a gym or learning a skill? Maybe finding a new job or starting a business? Maybe it’s just reading more books. Whatever it is, make a plan to accomplish those goals, and attack them aggressively.
Most people think that there is something special about men that accomplish great things, but there isn’t. These are just guys like anyone else, and they started off at a similar spot as you and I. These are normal men that decided to set a goal and bust their ass to accomplish it. They found their purpose in the man that they want to be, and they found ways to make it happen. Failure is a part of that process. No plan is perfect, but having some kind of sloppy plan and executing it is way more important than spending all your time perfecting a plan and never pursuing your goals.
A man finds purpose in achieving goals and creating value. If you feel worthless, it might be because you are. BUT you don’t have to be. Think about the man you are, the man you want to be, then go make something happen. The smallest achievements can set you on a path to completely changing your life.