“The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive.”Albert Einstein
We all want things. Material or not.
We have dreams, wishes and ideas in our head of, “If I just had this one thing, everything would be great.”
Some of these wants we have drive us to do certain things. To try and reach that goal.
We think that an end goal or a result we value is how to go about setting goals and obtaining things we desire.
However, there are times when we want something, we go after it and we stop going after it. But the want didn’t change. We still wish that we got that one thing.
But our motivation ran out. Why does that happen?
Why does me wanting to set a goal and reach it sometimes feel impossible even though I know the thing I want to get is motivation enough for me to pursue it?
This is because before I was told this, I failed to understand how motivation works, what the difference is between a value and a desire and why a desire can’t set a bar for a goal.
Motivation at its core isn’t what we think it is.
There are moments in our lives, tons of moments to say the least, where we are motivated to go after something.
The motivation fuels us and from prior experience, we know that motivation will run out so we try and take shortcuts or push through hard as fast as we can.
However, motivation is a luxury. And while it’s still good to act with motivation, being motivated to do something should have no effect on whether we do it or not.
I’m not saying this to motivate like “just do it” or something else cheesy to temporarily motivate you. But that motivation doesn’t get us to do the things we need to do.
We don’t go to work because we are motivated to. We go because we value the fact that we must go. As much as we might not want to, as much as we know if we didn’t go, the world won’t end. We might not even lose our jobs.
But we see going to work as a value within ourselves because it’s part of what we were trusted to do. And while a job may be a drastic example because we may not value the fact that we have to work, it’s still not a desire and it’s something we don’t need motivation to do.
Certain things in our schedules are values, things that we do not because we want to do them, but it’s because it feels like a necessity to us.
We do laundry because we know we should, even though we don’t have to. We value the outcome of doing laundry and do it purely on the basis that we’ve done laundry before and we always do laundry.
If you value writing, there may be times when you don’t want to write, but you do every Tuesday so when it comes time, you do it, even if you aren’t motivated. Because you value the fact that you have done this every Tuesday.
You see what you can do with it and while it may be easy to drop, you don’t want to lose what you value. So work gets put in to something even if we aren’t set on goals or desires.
Those things we do even when we would rather not do them are values.
Desire as a goal
A desire can be broken because the goal is focusing on the outcome, even if we don’t value the work that comes with it.
If I want to be a great programmer, I might motivate myself to learn some coding every once in a while because I think it would be cool to be a programmer.
But at the end of the day, I don’t value the fact that I can program. Because I can’t. I can teach myself to program and that would be awesome. But the trade off of spending an hour or two a day to learn might not seem worth it.
Even if I convince myself it is worth it, it’s still hard to do. Because the skill of programming isn’t something I value, it’s something I wish I could do.
There are things within us that we value so we work at it because we feel like it’s a part of us.
If you value the fact that people think you are knowledgeable about politics, you’ll keep following politics, even on the days when it’s grim to keep up.
You value those around you and you do things for them you wouldn’t do for yourself because you value their opinion.
So in looking at that from another perspective, since we do things for others without a second thought, does that mean we don’t value ourselves?
That’s where the confusion comes from. We do value ourselves. But we only value certain things about ourselves.
I value the fact that I am organized. So I continue to be organized because it’s something that I judge myself for. I expect certain things of myself, and if it’s something I’ve always seen as a part of me, I’ll do it regardless of if I want to.
Desires and Values
The best example I’ve heard has to do with going to the gym.
I have been working out now for a little over a year and I’ve never struggled to get myself to workout. And for a while I questioned why that was.
There are so many stories of people who go, maybe even for a few months, and then stop. They ran out of motivation.
That’s because for me to go to the gym, I don’t rely on motivation.
It’s not a desire for me to want to workout. Because oftentimes I don’t want to.
But there’s never a time when you go to the gym and you regret going. Or at least I can’t imagine what that would look like.
Yet even on days when I don’t want to go to the gym, days when I can find multiple reasons not to go, I still go.
There can be times when you go to the gym and do barely anything. Maybe you’re there for only 10 minutes. But you know in the back of your mind that’s better than nothing.
I thought at first that might eventually go away and I would lose motivation, but motivation wasn’t what kept me going.
It had to do with working out being a value for me.
When I first started going to the gym, I wanted to go every day with maybe one break day per week.
I chose the day of the week I would take a break, and every other day I went.
Then came a time when I didn’t want to go, but what kept me from holding myself from going was that I didn’t want to break my streak.
I’ve been going every day and if I stop randomly one day, there’s not really a point for me to keep going. Of course there is, but the streak and not wanting to break that was what kept me from letting myself sit around and not go.
If at first you take one extra break, then you know that’s fine to do. Maybe then you start taking multiple breaks because you’ve done it before, it doesn’t matter that you don’t go one day because you’re not breaking a streak of going.
But the fact that I have been going every day that I’ve expected myself to is enough for me to workout on future days when I really really don’t want to. Because I don’t want to see that day. I don’t want to see the day that I just decide I would rather not.
The day that happens, it might happen more because I’ve gotten away with it.
You can relate it to self discipline, but even then I wouldn’t classify a value as something you’ve disciplined yourself to do.
You can discipline yourself to go after a value, and when the time comes, you and your mind will agree that you can stop now.
But a value is a part of you that goes beyond your thought process and into your personality.
If you take the time to think back to everything you’ve done over the past week, you’ll find there were some things that you didn’t want to do, didn’t have to do, but still did.
Those are the things that you value. Big or small. You didn’t do it out of a want for an outcome.
You did it because the process feels important to you, and the outcome is secondary.