We like to pretend that personal change is more difficult than it is.
There are some goals that are long shots and pipe dreams for most of us. Becoming an NBA basketball player. Being elected president. Winning a Nobel prize. Becoming a best-selling novelist. Even if you have the talent or physical ability to do those sorts of things, they might not happen. There’s a lot of luck involved — and very few get lucky enough to make it.
But for most of us, the changes we want are simpler. The goals are more achievable. Most of us look at our lives and wish for change. We wish we had more money. We wish we had partners who understand us and love us. We wish we lived somewhere we liked better. And some of us — such as me — just want to make some movies or find a platform to speak to the world in other ways.
But we don’t do those things. Why? We tell ourselves it’s just difficult to achieve what we want. We struggle to make the millions of dollars we’d like. We put up with relationships we’re unhappy with. We stay where we don’t want to be. And we keep dreaming about things instead of doing them.
I realized recently why this happens. At least for me. And maybe for you.
Change happens only when we have proper motivation.
Without motivation, you’re going to continue the same old patterns. You’re going to keep getting exactly what you’ve been getting. You’re going to keep cursing what you don’t like. You’re going to keep hating yourself for not making the change you want. You’re going to keep making excuses and pretending you have no choice. And you’re going to miss the opportunities for change that are offered to you.
Change isn’t really difficult. Seriously. Most of us claim we want change, but we rarely make those changes. Why? It’s because we don’t have motivation. We don’t want those things enough. We haven’t decided we deserve those things. We haven’t decided they’re important enough.
We don’t have a fire lit under us that burns us if we stay where we are.
I’m one of the most talented and capable people I know. Seriously. I don’t say that with pride. I say it with shame. Because I haven’t used the abilities I have to do any of the things I had hoped to do. I’ve coasted and taken the paths of least resistance in most cases.
But on those rare occasions when I have motivation, I can turn on a dime and use my abilities. Making my first short film was a perfect example.
I decided many years ago that I wanted to make films. I read books about it. I thought about how I might do it. I talked about it a lot. I did everything except actually pursue making something. I wanted the result, but I didn’t want it badly enough to take the leap and do something which scared me.
I played around with a couple of scripts. I talked to people about being involved in my project. But I allowed problems to stop me. Over and over again, I delayed doing anything about it.
Then I met a woman who I wanted to like me. She really liked the idea of me making films and she clearly was impressed that I wanted to make something. Within about three months of meeting her, I ignored all the “logical” problems and pragmatic issues that I had allowed to block my way — and I made a short film.
I didn’t know exactly what I was doing, but because I wanted to do something for her, I had the motivation to set aside my fears and my problems. I found a way to shoot my short film. I got it edited and finished. I entered film festivals and got it into about 20 festivals. The film even won some awards.
The woman didn’t give me anything that I didn’t already have. She didn’t give me talent or money or confidence. She simply gave me someone to do the work for. I had motivation, so I did it.
She’s long gone from my life, but the principle remains. When we’re motivated, change comes easy. Achievements come pretty easily. We leap tall buildings and we do more than we thought we could do.
Without motivation, we stay on a safe, comfortable course — always avoiding the very things we know we need and want.
I know some of the things I want to do and be, but I don’t have the motivation to do them. Not yet. I’m sure some would lecture me that I shouldn’t need external motivation. They might even be right. It doesn’t matter, though. This is the simple reality for me. It’s how I’m wired.
I achieve goals when I want to give things to someone else. I do things when I know it would make someone proud of me. I do things when I know someone would appreciate those things. I’m motivated by the love and admiration of others.
I’ve said this before, but it still applies. I have a burning need to be able to make good things for somebody and to be able to take them to her and say, “I made this because of you.”
It doesn’t matter how much talent or ability or knowledge or education we have. Without the right motivation, none of that is worthwhile. Without the right motivation, there will always be an excuse why it wasn’t possible to reach my goals.
I need a family to do things for. I need somebody who loves me and counts on me. I need children who think I could do anything and eagerly watch in innocent wonder as I do what they expect.
Life would be easier if I simply wanted to do things for myself, but I don’t seem to be made that way. My motivation comes from somewhere else, if it’s going to come at all. I just accept that — and I’m eager for love and understanding and needs of my loved ones to give me the motivation to make dreams come true for all of us.