Thursday, March 28, 2013

Motivation depends on perspective, no matter what your age

Is it possible that our motivation depends on our perspective of the opportunities around us? This is the question I have to ask myself after reading a couple textbooks and a few dozen articles on theories behind what promotes behavior and change. What I have come to understand is that some thing, some moment or idea has to strike us at just the right time when we are ready to accept the challenge of giving ourselves a push. So where does that “ah-ha!” moment come from?

I was telling a story at lunch not too long ago about just such a moment for me. I was beginning my undergrad senior internship at an older adult group exercise class. I had been running regularly, ate fairly healthily, and considered myself in pretty good shape. I was ready to lead this group. Then, one day at the exercise class in walked – at the last possible minute -- a 90-year old woman with curly hair, wearing large glasses and fantastic, high-waisted exercise pants. She grabbed a pair of 8-pound weights (compared to my measly 3’s) and jumped in the back of the class. We made it through to the resistance portion of class and I was just dying trying to get through some shoulder presses. Then I noticed the late-arriving woman nailing the exercises, barely breaking a sweat. 

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One of my co-workers saw me looking at the older woman and said “Well, where do you think we get our motivation?” I had to stop and think before I could open my mouth again. I could not believe that it hadn't occurred to me that our motivation was interconnected…as leaders of the class, we were there to motivate the senior participants. But we were as equally motivated by them. It was a new perspective for me.

So, whether you’re trying to find the motivation to make it to class or if you have an overly complicated week you can’t wait to get through, I suggest trying to see the situation from a different perspective. It doesn’t matter how old you are -- accepting or creating change is not limited to the young.  

If you find yourself having to adjust to new living arrangements, make it an opportunity to enjoy discovering the area. If you want to pick up a new skill or two or three, it’s never too late to learn. If you are tired of an old habit, maybe there’s some new help available that wasn’t there before. Don’t give in to all the reasons you can’t do something. Get a new perspective instead and plow forward. 

Every situation presents new opportunities. If you don’t want to take it from me, take it from George Bernard Shaw. “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” 

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Rachel Arney
CAC Graduate Assistant