SportsLizard Entrepreneur Blog

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Challenge of Motivation

We all know someone who says that they would like to do something that we know they have no chance of doing, be it get better grades in school, get a better job, or lose weight. Why do we know that they are full of BS as soon as they open their mouth? Because we know that they can't stay focused long enough to achieve their goals. Sure they are motivated today, but what about when their is a party the night before a test? We know that they will cave in and ultimately resort back to being who they are.

As an entrepreneur this is not an option. You need to find some way to keep yourself motivated. It may be money (although I don't think that's the case for most entrepreneurs), it may be to prove people wrong, or it may be something else. Whatever it is, it has to be something so strong inside of you that it overpowers your desire to do the things that will cause you to fail.

For me it is a combination of things - the desire to enjoy my life, to live something I am passionate about, to best use the talents that I have been given, and to a lesser extent prove other people wrong.

Notice that money is not on that list. I draw a very good salary at my job. At 23, I make more than most people twice my age. Being a young, single guy with not much responsibility, I make more than enough money to do all of the things that I need to do and want to do. If money was all that drove me, I would certainly be content where I am at and not be pushing for something more. Those other things I mentioned are what truly drives me.

In my post a few days ago, I expressed my frustration with having to spend 45 hours a week in an office doing something I don't want to. I spoke of how I felt like I was wasting my time and how I wish I was running my business and working on my non profit organization all day long. And I still sort of feel that way. But I also have noticed how driven to succeed I have been lately and can't help but conclude that their is a strong correlation between the two.

For instance, if all was well at my job - I truly enjoyed all aspects of my work, then what rush would I have to leave? I am pulling a sweet salary and have great benefits. I would probably start slacking and figure it wouldn't matter whether I quit this year or four years from now. That would definitely lead to a lack of urgency and demotivate me. I certainly wouldn't be posting to my blog on a Friday night!

But the fact that I am frustrated with my work just adds fuel to the fire. In the past month, I have had my business recognized by Microsoft and had a post from this blog syndicated in a national newsletter, but that doesn't even phase me. There is no sense of content at all. Just a never ending drive to succeed and to start doing what I love full time. And I won't take my foot off of the pedal until I get there.

At work, I generally don't talk about my business. I don't want it to distract me from getting my job done. People always have a thousand questions for me so I'd rather not deal with it. Inevitably, it always feels like they are trying to prove to themselves that they shouldn't take my business seriously because, after all, I am just a 23 year old, and I couldn't possibly know more or be more driven or more successful than they are. My boss is aware of my plans. He understands them, respects them, and will ultimately support me in whatever I decide to do. That is all I really care about.

But people like to talk. And one of their favorite questions for young people is "Where do you see yourself in the future?" It always is proceeded by the "You seem like your getting used to work, which is good, because you've got another 40 years of it." I always take it as "When I was your age, I had a dream job too - tell me what yours is, then I'll tell you mine and why someone else caused me to fail, and inevitably I'll make you feel that you will not end up doing whatever it is that you just said you wanted to do ." I can't tell you how many times I have had that conversation. I hate it, but it's hard to avoid when people start prying into your professional aspirations.

So today at work, someone started prying. So I answered the questions honestly. And I get the "I'm rooting for you, but don't you think you should also develop your engineering career here in case you change your mind?" I say no, which is followed with "You say that now, but when you meet some honey and have a little kid and want to buy a house you are going to want a steady income." Another one of my favorites. Since I am single, they love to play the "when you meet a girl everything will change" card. Listen, every girlfriend I have ever had would support me in pursuing what I love in exchange for a little financial uncertainty. And I am pretty sure that any girl I meed in the future who truly loves me would also support me. I pretty much take that as an insult - an insult to my business and an insult to my ability to develop successful relationships. I take it as "you live in fantasy land, young man, and when you get out of fantasy land and look at reality you will realize that your dreams aren't meant to become reality."

As this conversation continued, I was then thrown the "Listen to your elders, I am twice your age, and you will regret not listening to me" line. I am all for respecting your elders, but when your elders are wrong I would be stupid to listen. Would Bill Gates have started Microsoft if he listened to his elders? Michael Dell wouldn't have dropped out of school to run Dell Computers if his elders had their way. Sometimes you need to pursue you passions despite what others say.

Ok, I strayed a little, but back to my motivation. I started to realize after that conversation at work that those conversations are part of what fires me up so much, part of what keeps me going. I almost NEED people to constantly misunderstand me and insinuate that I will fail. It drives me. So, in a way, working my job for a little longer will actually be good for me. Seeing what I don't want will help me stay focused on what I do want. I think that is the best mentality for me to approach my job with for the next year or so while I work towards getting out of it.

I hope you all have an awesome Friday night and a great weekend - I am off to work on the SportsLizard.com Sports Collectibles Newsletter that goes out tomorrow.

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