Inspiration and Motivation
By Laurel Clark
Setting goals and accomplishing them brings satisfaction and fulfillment. Most people know how triumphant we feel when we complete something we intended to do. But what happens when the motivation to accomplish wears out? When we find ourselves procrastinating by checking Facebook, drinking another cup of coffee, or finding other ways of frittering away our time?
How do we keep the motivation going?
The key to continual motivation is knowing what inspires us. Inspiration is different from motivation. Inspiration comes from purpose. Purpose comes from knowing who we are, what we have to offer, and how we can make the world a better place.
Inspiration is sustaining. It energizes us. Motivation can be energizing for a while, but it also wears out.
As a more-than-fulltime volunteer for a 501(c)(3) not for profit educational organization, I spent nearly 40 years learning how inspiration provides sustenance. Now I am learning to apply that to the business world. Many people do that in reverse, spending years being motivated by money, and then later, perhaps in retirement, learning how volunteering their time can nourish them.
Since 1979, I have invested my time and energy as a student and teacher with the School of Metaphysics, a 501(c)(3) educational and service organization. One unique feature of this organization is that 100% of the staff people are volunteers. This includes all of the teachers, the office staff, the administrators …everyone!
Why would I spend so much time volunteering? Because I wanted to share with others the benefits I received from being a student of self-development. I grew from learning how to concentrate, meditate, visualize, understand my nighttime dreams, become calmer and more relaxed, and develop skills like memory and listening. I wanted other people to have those benefits too.
As a volunteer teacher and administrator, I discovered that when the only motivation for teaching is love for one’s fellow human beings, a teacher develops valuable qualities such as patience, compassion, unconditional love, respect, and acceptance.
What keeps someone involved with an organization when he or she is not paid? The payment comes in another form: personal fulfillment while aiding others. We can find a clue in research done by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross who studied people who were dying. Universally, at the end of a lifetime, people ask themselves three questions: “Did I give and receive love? Did I become all that I could be? Did I leave the world a little bit better?”
Contributing our talents and energies to a good cause gives us a way to answer these questions in the affirmative, every day, rather than waiting to look back at the end of life when it may be too late.
When I first started teaching, I was motivated by gratitude for my teachers who were willing to give selflessly. Even as a new teacher, the passion and desire to share with others what I had learned, and the appreciation for what I had been given, made me a very good instructor.
Now that I have been teaching for nearly 40 years, I am still moved by gratitude and desire for everyone to have what I have! The innocence and joy that moved me in the beginning have matured into wisdom, still inspired by joy and love for aiding people in their self-growth.
In my “golden years,” I am now developing a business to earn an income speaking and teaching. I am discovering that receiving monetary compensation for sharing what I know enables me to reach more people in expanded ways. I can travel, for example, to lead a workshop in another city or country. The motivation for turning a passion into a business is to have even more to give to the world. The inspiration is just as strong.
each individual needs to have a personal ideal and purpose that is strong, and everyone needs to be aligned with the group’s overall ideal and purpose.
An ideal is more than a goal. Ideals are transcendent, images of the highest one can imagine becoming. A goal is physical. So, for example, one of my ideals is to be a clear voice for truth. I use this as a kind of internal compass when faced with decisions, when I need to be a mediator in a meeting, when I am called to speak at a conference, when I am asked for counsel, advice, or direction from a client.
A goal is something with a physical manifestation, such as buying a new computer or signing up 100 people for a seminar, or writing a book. When people have physical goals but are unclear about the transcendent ideals, they can become unmotivated once they have accomplished the goal. Waiting to decide, “what’s next?” can be depleting.
Motivation wears out when we have goals without purpose. Purpose is “who am I becoming in the process of living my ideal and accomplishing my goal.” So, my purpose for being a mediator is to bring light, awareness, into the communication. My purpose for writing my next book is to understand more deeply how to communicate in ways that anyone can comprehend.
When people know why they do what they are doing, not just a physical reason, but because they want to improve themselves, give their talents and gifts, and develop new skills or understanding, then the motivation to complete a task deepens into the inspiration to reach higher and farther, and to give more completely.
When you give, you receive, so those who give more completely also receive more deeply. The reward is more permanent than money, because it is one of character development that lasts forever.
When people create together with a common ideal, they form relationships that are very deep, fulfilling, and enriching. People love to be invested in a worthy endeavor that produces self-growth while aiding other people.