Mike 2020 pic

Michaele Duke

Why is it, when the New Year comes around we are motivated to reach a goal or make a change? One definition of motivation is, “having an incentive or a strong desire to do well or succeed in some pursuit.” Seems for the past couple years that definition for me should say, “having an incentive or a strong desire to do well or succeed in some pursuit - but only when I’m in the mood.”

We see those things advertised on TV that look like a mirror but when you flip a switch a really buff and energetic person shows up on the glass and proceeds to tell what’s going to hurt today. They don’t care if you’re 65 and can’t sit for long periods without needing help to get up. They’re there to whip you into shape. You just have get motivated and follow along.

The TV is a sea of advertainments about weight loss, exercise, and feel-good potions. I’ve been a sucker for more than a few of those natural, veggie-based, magic-in-a-pill gimmicks. I even took a closeup photo of my face before commencing the daily regime (four cow pills at night and two in the afternoon) because the buff and energetic lady on the screen said it would tighten my skin and reduce those wrinkles. Four months later I took another photo, same light, same place. I called that lady and told her it didn’t work and to cancel my subscription.

I tried another encapsulated concoction of a dried root vegetable. After a couple months I still couldn’t jog a 12-minute mile. I canceled that prescription as well. My daughter keeps telling me to stop wasting money on empty hopes. She may have a point.

So, how do I motivate myself as I reach the downslide of life? That’s such an odd question because I never had a problem till I hit my 60s. That’s when things started to head south. The noticeable jawline droop that takes your smile with it, the tummy whose belly button has decided to move down an inch or two, the thigh-high cellulite that’s inviting the knees to join them. I could go on but you get the picture.    

When I decided for the umpteenth time to exercise I didn’t buy another gizmo, pill or app to help me along. I started reading. I discovered there are different types of motivation. Extrinsic motivations is where your behavior is driven by external rewards such as being praised for your work. Intrinsic motivations  are gained through a personal or internal reward like reading a book. My research on the topic was based upon intrinsic motivation.

But understanding motivation didn’t motivate me. Every day when I wake up I tell myself I’m going to do this and that, eat this and that, think this and that. By 6 p.m., all that positive thinking is out the door with the empty bag of Cheese Puffs. Have you seen the limited edition, white cheddar, snowflake puffs? Oh, so good…Opps, got off the track. It turns out almost everyone experiences fluctuations in their motivation. We may be gung-ho come January 1, but that doesn’t mean we’ll stay the course. I know this firsthand: Been working to perfect it all my life.

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