I have a friend that’s wired a little different than most. Not the sew flowers on your blue jeans and never wear deodorant kind of different, although I know a few of those too; Tom Richardson just sees things more clearly than the average guy. I was talking to him a while back about motivation. In particular about how it comes and goes so easily for so many people. He listened politely then stated that motivation is never lost, it gets re-directed.

He gave an example that went something like this: Let’s say you had plans to go to the gym and have a workout. Instead, you change your mind and decide to stay home and watch a movie. You might say that you lost motivation, but it was simply re-directed. You may not be motivated to go to the gym and train hard, but you are highly motivated to sit on the warm, cozy couch and watch TV.

In other words, there is no mystical external force stealing our motivation; it’s simply a choice we make driven by our thoughts and feelings. For instance, things like distractions, temptation, discomfort, or shifting priorities are often influenced by emotions then justified or rationalized by the logical part of the brain.

Since motivation is influenced by emotions and logic, we can proactively take control of our motivation by controlling our environment and the influences we expose ourselves to. Consuming things that motivate us like music, speeches or presentations, podcasts, pictures, books, movies and so on, go a long way to influencing how motivated we are to work toward our goals throughout the day.

But it doesn’t stop there.

There are things each of us knows will cause a shift in our motivation that need to be avoided. Things, people and places that cause stress, depression, unhappiness, negativity, or simply zap our energy can be powerful forces that direct our motivation away from our goals, and our health, and happiness.

If you feel that the world around you has the power to affect your motivation in a negative way, you may want to consider taking an inventory of your life and the influences that affect how you feel about yourself and the world around you. Once you recognize the negative people and other factors that inhibit your success and happiness, the next step is eliminating or drastically reducing the interaction with those people, places, and things that are not good for you.

That can be frightening and difficult, but you may want to consider how difficult life will be if you don’t make changes. Hard things are not necessarily bad things. In fact, you should never judge the value of any process or lesson based solely on how much discomfort it brings. The greatest growth in life comes from the most difficult and demanding experiences. You will be stronger when you advocate for your life, your goals, your loved ones, your health, your happiness.

Once they are gone, you will have room in your life to replace that time and energy with the people, places, and things that are good for you.

At 57 years of age I have the good fortune of being much closer to the end of this life-book than I am to the beginning so I am able to tell a story about how these tough decisions played out from my own experience. I don’t regret walking away from anything that was destructive for me. Life went on after I made those decisions, and while most of those people and situations have never changed, I certainly had the opportunity to make better choices once I put them in the rear view mirror.

I did make better choices the next time, and as a result, I have outstanding health, an incredible family and I am now spending my life doing the things that I love to do. The few souls I consider to be my close friends would do almost anything for me, as I would for them. Life is not perfect, it still has it’s many problems, but I rarely have any difficulty managing my motivation anymore.

I simply removed the mud from my windows, and now I can see the sunshine that was always there waiting for me. Because of that, doing the better thing is an easy decision now.

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