What motivates you? How do you get started on a project? What gets you moving, even when you are tired, dread the task in front of you, or plain don’t feel like it?
Many people look to others to inspire them: the athlete, the cancer survivor, the kid with pluck, the millionaire from humble beginnings. Other folks claim they need inspiration to strike before they can begin an endeavor. (That simply won’t work when you need to get your homeschool day started.)
Regardless, most agree motivation comes at the beginning of their quest to reach a goal. Motivation is necessary for moving forward. Without it, plans get stalled, creators get stuck. If only I were motivated enough, I’d finish my project, you think. The reasoning goes something like this:
TASK + MOTIVATION = ACTION
You look at the task you need to do, then garner some motivation in order to be able to execute it. For many, this equation is as set in stone as 1+1=2.
Yet what if it isn’t?
Author Jeff Haden dares to differ. He calls such reasoning the “motivation myth,” which leads to let-downs and failure. In his book The Motivation Myth, Haden flips this logic on its head, asserting motivation is the result. The real equation for success actually looks like this:
TASK + ACTION = MOTIVATION
Each time you take a small step toward your goal, you make progress. Knowing that you’ve started and are moving forward brings a feeling of satisfaction. Each step becomes a mini success. And that motivates you to take the next step.
“When you savor the small victories, you get to feel good about yourself every day” the author explains. If you wait until the big task is complete before patting yourself on the back, you’re more likely to slog through a fog of stress to get there.
Mentally speaking, the old approach saddles you with a burden until the project is done. Haden’s approach nourishes you with “daily doses of fulfillment.”
Now apply this to homeschooling. Think about it: Which kind of homeschool day would you prefer?
· Old approach: “We must finish all our subjects today. Grrr, why won’t Junior stay focused? Why all the interruptions? When will this end?” The result: a grumpy, increasingly agitated mom whose attitude rubs off on her kids.
· Haden’s approach: “Whoo hoo! We finished a grammar lesson!” Mom and kids do a happy dance. “Good for you—you finished five math equations.” High-fives ensue. “Wow, how time flies. I can’t believe we got so much done!”
The difference comes through realizing that reaching your goal “is just one moment,” Haden explains. “The real source of consistent, lasting happiness lies in the process.” Plus, the more frequently you do something, the better you get at it. And that builds confidence, which in turn motivates you to do some more.
This leads to the cascade effect. “Motivation and confidence gained in one aspect of your life can spill over into other aspects of your life” Haden says. “When you feel good about yourself in one way…you tend to feel better about other parts of your life as well. After all, if you can do one thing well, you can do lots of things well.” What a great trait for our children to grasp.
So stop waiting for motivation to hit you in the head. Take action, even a small step, toward your goal and create your own forward momentum.