Sunday, December 04, 2011

NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 4: Reactive vs. Creative

I'm taking a little break from all the Motivation Makeover stuff, but I will get back to it. I am also going to have an interview with author Reneé Stephens about her book, Full-Filled soon.

I was sitting through a presentation the other day on different kinds of motivation and it reminded me of Reneé's "towards" and "away-from" motivation. The presenter first described a reactive motivation, which is moving away from pain.  The results of this kind of motivation look like this:

Why is that? Because when we are failing, we feel bad about it. But once we start succeeding, we can make other people around us uncomfortable, and that can make us lose motivation or sabotage ourselves.  The only place that feels safe for a person in reactive mode is when they aren't being noticed at all.

It really struck me how much this felt like my weight loss motivation.  When I am feeling conspicuously heavy, I tend to feel motivated to make changes, but once I start getting too many comments from people around me on my weight loss, I can become uncomfortable and then I feel myself losing motivation. I know that I've talked about this before, so the real revelation in this talk was what to do instead.

What to do instead is to move toward a compelling vision. Similar to Reneé's "towards" motivation. We also need to shift our reactive motivations to a more creative kind of motivation. So if we are focused on fitting in, we should work toward building healthier relationships. If we are motivated by a need to control ourselves and others, we need to work toward a healthier achievement-oriented mindset.  If we are motivated by a need to protect ourserlves (this felt like me), we need to move toward authenticity and self-awareness.  This can produce results more like this:

The move from protection to authenticity reminded me of Breneé Brown's discussion of shame and vulnerability.  And it also reminded me of another book I'm reading, Mindset by Carol Dweck, which discusses the benefits of the growth mindset (people can work to improve their basic ability level in areas like intelligence and athletics through hard work and learning) vs. the fixed mindset (people have a certain amount of ability, and performance is an opportunity to show that ability).  People in a fixed mindset would oscillate too, because when they inevitably hit a hard patch or a failure, they would decide that they weren't really meant to succeed and would give up.  They might get motivated again when they started to fear that others would think they were untalented and unworthy, but they would never achieve the kind of success that comes from facing challenges.

I really think it's amazing how the same messages keep coming back to me from so many sources. It helps reinforce their value.

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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07