Please don’t laugh, but every time I need a kick in the pants, I put on G.I. Jane. Yes I know, it’s ridiculous. But there’s something about Demi Moore’s I’m-a-badass-and-I-have-boobs-so-deal-with-it mentality that makes me want to get my shit together. Whether that means I do a few more pushups, crank up the house work, or focus harder on my career, it doesn’t matter, because the movie gets me all fired up.
My husband lovingly makes fun of me because I mainly “listen”to movies while I write and work. Who needs music when you can pick a movie with a theme du jour? Because each project I tackle needs its own version of inspiration and motivation. And for me? That’s usually a movie playing in the background. I’m not actually watching it, but I know it’s there.
And more importantly? I know the feeling I’m going to pull from the movie just by having it on loop, three feet away.
I tell you this not to prove how big of a nerd I am. I tell you this because just like I have figured out what motivates me, it is equally important to figure out what motivates you.
For several years, I grappled with finding my “correct”motivation. And it was no wonder I struggled, because I was listening to everyone else’s version of how to achieve optimal inspiration. I was told to lock myself out of the house, rent out a hotel room for a few nights and pamper myself, forced to spend money traveling to certain destinations to see what it would be like to be “abundantly rich.”
So needless to say, I’m not going to tell you to watch Demi shave off her raven locks on repeat, or stay at the Ritz for a weekend. I also have no delusions that you secretly imagine yourself as Ms. Moore and are hoping for a deleted scene where you (she) makes out with Viggo.
What I am going to tell you is that you need to introduce yourself to someone, and get all up in their biznass: Yourself.
The act of knowing thyself is quite deceiving. Most of us go through life believing we know everything there is to know about ourselves. But in reality? We just know the stuff that is on the surface. We know what kind of vegetables we will eat, where we like to vacation, what kind of clothes we enjoy wearing, and even who we are attracted to.
We pride ourselves on knowing the Who, What, Where, and How’s of our life. But when we figure out the Why…oh doggie. Now we’re cooking.
Because when we answer the question of Why (why are we attracted to this person, why do I like to travel there, etc.) we get more and more familiar with ourselves. And I’m not talking about the superficial why (“I like him because he has a cute butt”), I’m talking about the Why that stares you down, slaps you in the face and yells, “Try harder! Go deeper!” (Do another pushup you pansy!)
And it’s tricky. I know people who struggle with figuring out their Why. Hell, a few years ago I was convinced I knew my Why, until I myself got slapped in the face, told to go deeper.
You see, the sad truth is that when we were little, we were good friends with our Why. But, at some point we listened to all the “shoulds.”
We should go to college.
We should wait to have sex until marriage.
We should get a well respected job.
We should shop at Bed, Bath, and Beyond on Saturdays.
We push the Real Why, down and down, until the poor thing gets buried. But every now and then it tries to get our attention. It tickles our tummies when we hear an idea that excites us. It controls our pens when we sit down to free write. And it especially makes us feel equally scared and thrilled when an opportunity to shake up our lives appears.
The Real Why just wants us to be in our element. The Real Why knows what it takes to get to the next level. The Real Why says screw “it to” the “shoulds” that don’t make sense for you. And the Real Why is the true motivator. The Real Why has the guts.
When you know yourself, you pick the right projects. Sure these projects will test you, but because you know that you love—no, adore—your project, you will keep coming back day after day.
When you know yourself, you can create your own world. A world where you feel comfortable enough to play in it for hours. And the beauty of it? Your happiness is so intoxicating that you will naturally draw others to you.
And when you know yourself, you can consistently get into that mother-loving zone. That moody, elusive, son of a bitch zone. And as creatives, we all know the high we get when we get into the zone (similar to being BFF with Demi and doing a duet montage of pull up and general badassery).