Motivation — Are We Born With It or Is It Learned Behavior?

Motivation has always been of interest to me.  Why do some people have the motivation to get up and go to the gym, then have a busy day at work, followed by outings with friends, while other people have little to no motivation?  Is motivation something we are born with or is it learned behavior, does it have anything to do with being an introvert or extravert?   The question of motivation has come to a more personal way to me since I was laid off.  All this free time and what kind of motivation do I have to do things, send out resumes, network, get things done.  Of course its so much easier when you are working because your workday consists of getting up, going to work, you have a set schedule and motivation can be less of an issue, since you are already out there in the world.  What I want to talk about is all of the people who are out of work, who have been out of work for over a year; how do they get motivated, what gets them going in the morning.  What kind of effects will anyone growing up in this day and age have as a lasting impression.  We all hear there are no jobs for college grads; does hearing that lessen peoples motivation to apply for jobs since they think it will be a futile effort?  Thats why I think this time is going to have lasting effects on generations to come, the uncertainty of being able to have a job; the gloomy prospects of the economy and everyone around you.  The Great Depression had those effects on millions of people.  I was brought up to never, ever, waste money.  Thats a depression mentality, its also a good way to live, but the reasons I was taught this by my parents and grandparents was because of the Great Depression.  And, the ironic part of it was that my family was doing very well during those depression years.

Everyone has heard that the more you do the more motivation you will get; that motivation doesn’t necessarily come to you but once you start doing something (gym, etc) you will bring the momentum to you.  I have heard this over and over again.  I have lived it, and I know it to be true.  But, when you stop going to the gym your mind, or my mind, forgets that you should try action first and let the motivation follow.  Currently I am in the forgetting phase.  Its a similar situation with looking for a job, how many interviews can you go on before you feel like you want to throw in the towel?  How many resumes can you send out knowing no one will probably read them.  So, my advice to anyone listening is go out and do something  every day, jog, run go to spin class; the motivation will snowball and you will see for yourself how much better you feel.  For the many of us who have been there, done that the challenge is much harder.


Alcohol, Xanax, Unemployment, Substance abuse

I read a great piece in today’s NYT by @FrankBruni that really got me thinking about Alcohol and substance abuse.  The piece had more to do with Whitney; but I think these issues related directly to the unemployed and more so to the long term unemployed.  Drinking, how easy is it to have drinks, as one of my friends used to say “drink until you forget”!  I think there is serious danger for unemployed people who might lose hope as each month passes with fewer and fewer interviews, people responding to your resume to want to numb the world out, numb the pain, numb the disappointment.  Alcohol is about the easiest “drug” to get a hold of, there are bars on every corner and it is very tempting to go in, or pour a drink at home and feel the pain lessen, the anxiety free up a bit.  Then it can gradually creep up on you, you go from being a casual drinker to drinking daily; and then you can drink more and more to get the same buzz.  Throw in drugs like Xanax that are supposed to help with anxiety and Lunesta to help you sleep and you could be mixing up a deadly cocktail.  I see this as speaking directly to the longterm unemployed.

Of course many of us know if we just got off our butts went out and exercised strenuously our stress would be greatly diminished and our self esteem would be lifted.  This can alleviate the need to numb ourselves, take sleeping pills, and lessen anxiety.  So knowing all this and not doing it can add the negative feelings described above.  Knowing you can solve a lot of your problems, having the solution (or one of them) being in your own hands and not taking advantage of it can really feel like a kick in the gut!  It comes to motivation again.  If anyone has some stories they’d like to share I’d love to hear them