Self Motivation: A Struggle

Give me a stock clerk with a goal, and I will give you a man who will make history. Give me a man without a goal, and I will give you a stock clerk.
— J. C. Penny

I have worked on and off since I was 14. I picked up a paper route because my parents gave me less money than I wanted to spend. Since then, I haven't gone more than a couple months without a job. My main motivation has always been money. I need a job to sustain both my lifestyle and to pay my bills (what few a I currently have at this stage in my life).

Though my experience in the workforce is relatively short, I have noticed one thing: self-motivated people may be the most beneficial, even vital, employees and partners to work with. These are people that increase team morale almost effortlessly. They do not drain the team of energy and they are very dependable people. This is something I, unfortunately, struggle with. To all the employers out there, hear it from me first: I am not self-motivated...yet.

I am working on it. I see the self-motivated, who they are and what they do. A friend of mine that I work with, named Evan for confidentiality's sake, epitomizes what it means to be self-motivated. Every day at Whole Foods, he has a smile on. He is intentionally and actively engaged with customers. He is involved in conversation, not peddling idle small talk. I'm not the only one who notices, too. Almost every month, he is rewarded via team vote or customer satisfaction. This is an employee everyone should want.

For me, I'm almost entirely dependent on my circumstances. Don't get me wrong, I have my good days when I'm on top of the world. However, as I recently revealed in a recent blog post, I am feeling unfilled in my work lately. I have lost so much motivation because I currently do not care about the work I'm doing at my university. I see it as busy work, a source of anxiety and a waste of time.

When I care about something, I get very invested. I can talk about travel and airlines for days. I love business and capitalism and what they can do to society.  Theology or philosophy? You got it. A couple years ago, I went out for coffee with a friend; what was supposed to be a short homework session turned into a five hour conversation about human relationships. When I care about something, I go all in. But when I'm expected to complete an event evaluation report, create a survey or curate social media posts for some no-name organization I hadn't heard of until a week prior, I am much less enthusiastic. The truth is, I do not care. With this reality comes a poor attitude and usually poor work product. No one can fix this except me.

However, on the flip side, you know what you get with me. If I care, I will be solely invested in what I'm doing. This is not an excuse or a rationalization; it's a reality, for better or worse. Regardless, I will continue to improve myself because I want to be a valuable asset for any future employer. I know I am far (so, so far...) from being the ideal, young professional. I hate the idea of being detrimental to a team. I cannot and will not let self-motivation (or lack thereof) hold me back in the future.

Entrepreneur lists 10 tips here to help get entrepreneurs motivated.


Last week, Huffington Post published an article titled "Why You're Not Staying Motivated, and What to Do About It." While the article raises a few good points, there is one I take issue with: "ground yourself." I am not entirely against the premise of this point, especially since the author is most likely arguing in favor of breaking big goals into smaller milestones. If one is making completely unattainable goals, he or she will be very disappointed when the goal is not reached. However, I would argue that a truly self-motivated person (or someone aspiring to self-motivation) does not need success to stay motivated. After all, some of the biggest names in business have suffered failures and setbacks. Thinking big has contributed to the creation of some of this world's most innovative brands and inventions. The Internet of Things, the "sharing economy" and so many other general, big ideas and trends have birthed countless inventions.

Think big always.

Dylan Schouppe