You might be surprised by what really motivates you

I’ve had a hard time finding lasting motivation throughout my life so I’m always looking for different ways to get me up out of bed and jazzed. Here are some failed ideas from the past:

1. __# of tasks accomplished = Dinner @ _________ (I choose from a list of restaurants found in Westword‘s Best of Denver issue): This didn’t work because I’d rather spend hardly any money on Ramen noodles for dinner than try to reward myself by paying 30x the price for one nice meal. I’m obsessed with saving money. It’s something you learn to love when you don’t have a job.

2. __# of tasks accomplished = smaller gift to self (gallon of Royal Crest chocolate milk, a 99 cent Fancy Southern mini Pecan Pie, school supplies): This didn’t work because you either end up doing a lot of work for a tiny pie or eating a lot of tiny pies which is no bueno for your arteries. Also, these all require money to receive and that wasn’t going to happen.

3. __# of tasks accomplished = much smaller FREE gift to self (make boyfriend give me back/foot massage, spend an hour just listening to new music, spend hours reading my favorite blogs such as Penelope Trunk & RookieMag): This didn’t work because I already do all of these things for myself anyways all the time.

At this point, I took a break from looking for motivational systems and just slept.

Then, a friend of mine invited me to attend a ToastMasters meeting with him. Having felt as though I was snoozing my life away, I went. Now, I’m about as outgoing and engaging as a jellyfish so ToastMasters terrified me. Everybody was speaking. In front of a room. And the room was full of people. They were telling jokes, prompting discussions, giving history lessons, divulging embarrassing stories about their families, making the audience laugh, emceeing, and having a great time of serenely, masterfully giving speeches.

I returned home that night feeling a bit dejected and somber. How could I even begin to do what those people did so easily? Practice? Probably.. But I didn’t want to practice. And then I realized something. I had found my motivation! It was fear.

Instead of fretting over the notion that it is best to FACE fears, I used my fear instead to get my ass moving on other, more important projects. I promised myself and the friend who took me to Toastmasters that if I didn’t start writing and learning computers (something I had never needed to learn until I tried finding a job), I would return to Toastmasters and volunteer to speak. That’s right. In front of EVERYONE. As you can guess, I’ve been pretty busy lately.