What’s my motivation anyway?
Lately I’ve been thinking about motivations. What motivates us to do the things we do? What drives us to be who we are, and make the decisions we make?
More often than not, it’s money. It’s our job:
“Hey person with dignity and self-respect, want to wait hand-and-foot on sometimes selfish, often obnoxious people at a restaurant for 8 hours straight, 3-5 days a week?”
“Ummm…no. That sounds terrible.”
“Ok, well if you do I’ll give you up to $100 a shift plus a discount on the crappy food you’ll be serving, and you can pay your rent, feed yourself, and have a social life that involves more than sitting at home in the darkened apartment you’re about to be evicted from since you have no money.”
“*sigh* Ok, I’ll do it.”
Bingo. Motivation at it’s finest. Other than money, I’d say the big, fat #2 on the “motivation list” is pleasing the people who rely on us. I’ll stay up way later than my body wants to work on a song, a project, or deadline if someone is relying on me to have a finished product of some sort in their hands the next day. I don’t think I’m alone either in being constantly motivated to crank out little day-to-day favors for that all-powerful, tool of self-motivating glory know as: peer/loved one validation. Don’t underestimate it. It’s not a silly teen problem either. We don’t grow all the way out of it. It’s something I think most of us deal with every day. I know I’m not immune. But I think to an extent it can be helpful and healthy. If we truly didn’t care about what anyone thought of us, we’d just sit around in our own filth, surfing Facebook, hundreds of pounds over-weight, and worst of all, we’d do it alone. No one likes an unmotivated fatty. Except for other unmotivated fattys.
“Peer validation” has a little cousin named “Peer competitiveness” too. And that sucker is a beast of a relative. I’m not that competitive by all practical standards. Sports bore me, video games lose my interest after 30 seconds, and I’d rather be the “funny guy” in a group playing charades than a serious player. But in more subtle ways, I can compete with the best of them. Like when I see another band or musician busting their rear to promote themselves or book a tour or write a new record, I get worried that maybe I’m not doing enough. Healthy competition sets in, and I start getting motivated to earn my keep.
This brings me to the point of this blog–if there is one–what would you do if you took money, peer validation, and competition out of the equation? What if tomorrow, there were no more bills to pay by slaving over restaurant tables? Or no one around you was pressuring you to be creative in any way? Would you still do your job? Most of us wouldn’t. Judging by all the “TGIF” tweets and “Mondays suck” FB statuses, the average American works for the weekend. For our time off. For our vacations. For our days we can spend away from “the grind.” So would you still work your profession if money or peer validation wasn’t involved?
I ask myself this sometimes. I would like to think that the main reason I make music (and I’ve made it all these years) because I love it. I would like to think that I would be completely lost if I didn’t create the way I do. Sometimes it’s easier to convince myself that no one cares whether I keep making music or not, so what’s the point? If no one’s paying attention to the art I create then what’s my motivation? I think if I did quit music completely, I would just end up throwing myself in some other creative outlet, be it painting, synchronized swimming, or ice sculpting perhaps? It’s a large part of who I am. I honestly don’t think I chose this as my station in life, it more or less chose me. It was a hobby that I enjoyed as a kid and was halfway ok at, so I kept doing it and researched it and I found that people actually did it for a living…and if I wasn’t going to pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals or be a cast member on SNL, then that’s what I was going to do. No plan B.
I’m not really sure how to wrap this blog up. Honestly, I was just spit balling some thoughts. I guess if this whole spiel has a point, it’s just to ask the question that started off this entry:
What motivates you?
Is it worthwhile?
Is it healthy?
Is it helping to build a better you?
And is it really who you want to be?