Motivation (2 Part Series)
At this point, I am just about tired of the constant flow of articles on how to deal with the quarantine life that seems good on the surface but is not necessarily sustainable. Not to mention that everyone has a different background and resources, and a lot of this advice is not applicable in specific situations.
For example, as lucky as I am to have the room to dedicate an office only area, many are stuck working on the kitchen table with their toddlers playing in the background. No amount of tips on how to create a distraction-free desk will compensate that.
Before I even heard about COVID-19, I wrote an article that focused on what motivates us. I focused on two main theories: Motivation for the sake of achieving something and enjoying the process of overcoming a challenge. I will not be talking about this one today.
The other main point I made was understanding Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We can only do so much with our limited time, and making sure we secure what is foundational for our wellbeing is a base instinct.
We need air, water and food to exist physically, so daily, we do things to satisfy those basic needs and end up planning everything else around them. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you more about Maslow’s theory first. And hopefully, this article will help you weed out the marketing advice from the one that will improve your life.
For those who have not yet read my previous article, I would like to sum up quickly why I am so fascinated with this theory. We, as human beings have different needs, that have been categorized by Maslow in five general categories. Although, in some instances, they are broken down into even more tiers.
The theory states that higher levels of need can only be achieved and bring satisfaction to our lives if built upon the primal, more significant ones.
It is usually visualized as a pyramid. Each tier resting on top of the previous one.
The physiological needs are the absolute foundational ones that are a factor as to whether or not we can exist and live. Such as the need for food, water, air and shelter.
After that comes the safety need for security. Greatly reliant on our resource income (in today’s environment - a steady job), health insurance and owning property.
The third level of need is the one based on love and belonging, where the relationships we have with our family, friends and loved ones become a pillar to our sense of worth and motivation.
Next comes esteem - the inherent belief that we are valuable as well as valued by our peers. Knowing we are respected by those we respect and having a self-assessment of someone competent and valuable.
And lastly, self-actualization, that is - simply put - the desire to be the best self, the person can be in all areas of life considered a priority as defined by the individual.
Subconsciously, or entirely by choice, we make daily efforts to build our individual pyramid based on our goals, priorities and preferences. And as much as we climb the ladder, there is no guarantee that the progress we make will be permanent.
We adapt to our environment. Precisely the ability to adapt to different conditions has brought humanity to the point we are currently at, collectively.
We are also good at building systems that we follow to get things done. For example, when we are hungry, we have the system to take the money and go to the grocery store to procure ingredients and make a meal - essentially a system to feed ourselves that is based on the current environment.
A few thousand years ago, the process of obtaining nourishment was entirely different - the man would take a club and go to the woods to whack a bunny for dinner. That is if childhood cartoons are to be believed.
But understanding what our current systems are lacking and finding ways to accommodate this need based on our updated circumstances is human nature. So we build our lives with the understanding we have of the world around us. But when this world shifts and changes, we may need to take a step back and rebuild our basic foundation before we can go on chasing our refined ambitions.
It is worth mentioning that many things can rattle our world off-balance. It can be a world-spread disease, or something much more personal. Such as the loss of a loved one or an injury that impacts daily routines. Or it can be losing the sense of belonging when leaving a long-term partner. The only constant thing in life is the need to adapt to our circumstances as they change.
While keeping a sense of normalcy is something we all want, it is worth acknowledging that we are trying to rebuild our foundation right now. Just a few short months ago, I was working on my interpersonal relationships as well as chasing a higher level of personal performance and trying to be the best version of myself. I was focusing on my work performance and education. As well as training to improve my aesthetic physique and health. In essence, all my efforts were aimed at fulfilling my need for self-actualization.
Now I feel, however, that I have been knocked down a few tiers and am trying to re-establish a sense of security and safety. While I have been lucky enough to maintain my job working in a company that develops healthcare software, I do feel less certain than before. I am worried about my own, and the wellbeing of my loved ones. And I am having a harder time maintaining relationships since I can no longer share even simple, friendly interactions with the people around me.
All this being said, right now, for most people, the important thing is to stay healthy, maintain a reliable income and hope that the people we love are safe and taking care of themselves. If this foundation is not solid, chasing excellence in all our endeavours becomes an endless source of stress, instead of positive motivation.
And that is okay! Life is all about adapting to the current situation. While it may feel like a step back and trying to rebuild something we used to be on top of, we are only making our foundations stronger, once we do get past this rough patch.
We all hope that this is a temporary crisis. One that we will leave behind in 2020 and look back upon with sadness. And, perhaps, a sense of accomplishment, simply because we were strong enough to get through this.
We hope that we won’t feel panic about going out without a mask, or touching public transport and rushing to disinfect our hands. We won’t hold back from a genuine personal touch or measure the distance between ourselves and other people in our heads when we pass them by. But for now, we do the best we can.
I am looking forward to the days where I can obsess over whether or not I will be able to get an A on a university assignment, as opposed to struggling to find the motivation to pass the class. But for now, I will do the best I can day by day and be patient enough with myself. And trust that I will be better equipped to deal with unexpected challenges in the future due to this crisis!
What do you think? Has the quarantine impacted your goals, desires and ability to chase after them? Leave your thoughts in the discussion below, and I will make sure to read them all!