Motivating oneself…

A random image from Cambodia

So, little known fact about me – I use my wii as a scale because I’m too lazy to buy one and it creates nice little graphs so I can feel either good or bad about myself with just a glance.

Now, there is actually a reason why I am mentioning this fact.  Because, as much as I love my wii (today it told me I was 20 years old in wii years – woohoo), there is something I really, really dislike about it.  And that’s how it handles goal setting.


If you’ve never had the pleasure of dealing with the Wii Fit, it has you set weight loss goals.  Well, first it says, “Oooh.  That’s overweight,” makes your mii fat, and suggests a healthy weight that makes you laugh uncontrollably.  (Or maybe that’s just me?)  Anyway, if you happen to set a weight loss goal and then miss said goal, it doesn’t give you a hard time for missing your goal, but instead suggests that you should set an easier goal in the future.

I hate that about it!  If I set a goal to lose one pound over two weeks, I think I should make that goal.  But the wii lets you off the hook.  Rather than challenge you, it just lowers the bar.

And the wii is not the only one that does that.  I love my close friends and family, but if I relied on them to keep me on track with my life goals, I’d never get there.  They’re just like the wii.  If I share with one of them that I’m off track on one of my goals, they tell me it’s ok.

I literally used to hear from my mom and grandma on a regular basis, “Don’t work too hard.”  It was how they ended phone calls.  All the time.

These days, I don’t work hard at all, but in the past there was no way I could get everything done if I didn’t work hard.  I triple majored in college while working full-time for the last two years.  And it wasn’t an easy college.  There was no way to make that happen without working hard.  But everyone in my life at the time just shrugged and said something like, “Well, you could always just give up a major.”

Turns out it was the third major that I didn’t really want but knew I needed that got me that first job out of school.  I could’ve given up one of the other two, but I was more than halfway to getting them by junior year, so why would I?  (Many reasons, of course.  Friends, relationships, sleep, fun.  Yeah, yeah.  Whatever.)

The only way I made that happen was by setting a goal for myself and sticking to it myself.  The people in my life didn’t actively work against me, they just didn’t see the need for the goal and therefore didn’t push me to achieve it.

So, bringing this back to writing.  As a newbie writer no one is going to force you to write.  If you’re like me you don’t have an agent or a book contract.  Short story editors aren’t calling and begging you to contribute to their anthology.  You’re probably not paying your bills with your writing.

And chances are that if you complain to anyone in your life about the rejection or how hard it is to find the time or the ideas or whatever it is that you find challenging that the people in your life will, in the most supportive way possible, suggest that you not write.

So, the only one you can count on to motivate you is yourself.  Perhaps you’re lucky and you have someone in your life who helps to push you to accomplish your goals.  (And, if you do, I hope they’re not one of those people who forces you to accomplish THEIR goals and not your own.  As in “You should be a writer.  Write.  Not that type of story.  THIS type.”)

I think the hardest part of achieving most things in life is staying motivated long enough to achieve them.  And, personally, that motivation has always had to come from within.  I think the only exception may have been my high school basketball coach who would scream and yell at us, but outside of sports I really can’t think of any situation where someone pushed me more than I was already pushing myself.  Or anywhere close to it, quite frankly.

About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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