Hello everybody, welcome to episode 233 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. Today's question is about staying motivated amidst uncertainty.
I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino reminding you before we begin that if you have a question you would like help with on the show, we welcome you to email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast.com
And thanks for being here today, my dear friends. Very exciting for you to be joining me with a question that’s got some nice intricacy to it. Our asker today is in a rather fortunate position by his own account, but it’s coming with some unexpected troubles, as even the best of circumstances tend to do. He’s very at peace with wherever life might take him, but how then, can he find motivation to work towards anything in such a state of ambivalence? Well let’s see what we can come up with. Here’s what he’s got for us…
QUESTION: “I am in an odd spot, where I am happy and content with the life I’m living (childcare, work from home, stable relationship, mental peace/health), and that’s making it very hard to stay motivated. It is not helped by the fact that I’m extremely open to where life might take me (not positive on a calling, or career for that matter), as it leads me to not feel compelled to set my myself up for the future since I’m kinda at peace with the unpredictability of it. Though not working towards anything is frustrating me.”
Being Open to Where Life Takes You
Ok, good question, asker, thanks for sending this in. An odd spot for sure, but odd spots give us new things to explore! So let’s see if we can charter some new territory together in this episode.
You know the first thing that jumps out at me when I see this question is that there’s some contradiction in here. And I don’t want to pick on you, but it’s very important contradiction and I think is going to be a bedrock of how I answer.
You say that you’re very open to wherever life might take you, and while that may be true of a career or calling, it’s not true across the board, because life is currently taking you through a period of uncertainty and you don’t seem to be very at ease with that.
We All Need Progress
And this isn’t a knock against you, but rather it’s a reminder that we all need progress, and that the need for progress might just outweigh how open you think you are to life’s ups and downs.
Some love big career progress or progress within whatever calling they feel they have. But what of those who don’t have a big job, a big dream or a clearly identified sense of life purpose? There’s no void in you for not having these types of things, plenty of perfectly happy people don’t, and the illusion that you need to is one of the many lies of the self-help industry.
So for those who don’t, how can they be content without the ability to make progress in these areas of life?
Well, they progress in other areas of life that do matter to them, even if those things aren’t flashy and even if they aren’t aware that they’re always looking to make these things better.
I want you to know that you that you have this option, too, because you clearly have things that you care about and could be working towards.
Your Current Blessings
You mention a stable relationship and at least one child you have in childcare. Let me remind you that if these blessings were to suddenly vanish, you likely wouldn’t be too content with life taking you there.
Maybe I’m wrong about that, but assuming you do have some level of attachment to keeping them around (and even if you don’t), the fact that you’ve listed these as meaningful things that you enjoy right now means that they’re worth making progress in. So if I may offer a prescription so-to-speak for this odd spot you’ve found yourself in, it would be this.
Staying Motivated Amidst Uncertainty: Conclusion
First, spend some time questioning why you’re ok with life taking you wherever it may take you, but not when it comes to at least the times in which you aren’t motivated.
What’s your relationship with the idea of motivation? Why is it necessary at all times? What has it done for you in the past? How have you gotten by during times in the past in which you weren’t motivated?
What’s happened with others in your life who weren’t motivated? How did those times affect you or how did they get through it? Getting clear on your biases towards motivation and exploring what stories you’re coming up with about a period of life without it would a great exercise for you, and something that a therapist could help you work through.
Secondly, while you’re doing that, honor your need for progress and motivation as it is right now. No, you don’t have to force big career progress if it doesn’t excite you, but I would look to see if there are opportunities to create progress with your child or children and significant other.
From what I know, they’re what mean the most to you. So how can you find new ways to be the best you can be for them and make their lives better and better? Are there little things they’re working on that you can assist with? Get involved in the progress they’re trying to make, the things that they’re currently motivated by.
You might just find that taking the focus off your own motivation and instead focusing on the motivation of your loved ones is exactly what puts you back on track in your own life.
All right folks, that’ll do it for today! Thanks a million for listening today, and thanks again to the asker for contributing. We all get into good flows sometimes, and sometimes things can be so good that we shame ourselves for still having troubles.
It’s important to realize that because we’re natural problem solvers, we’re also natural problem creators. So never judge yourself for that which you might be struggling with, no matter how good everything else is. Addressing it mindfully and with compassion towards yourself is the way to salvation, everyone. But this isn’t a cult, so I’m going to stop there.
Take care of yourselves everyone, can’t wait to see you all next time. Bye for now.