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Your Stories Don’t Define You, How You Tell Them Will

Nov 19, 2019

I’ve often been asked how I stay motivated, how I keep myself moving forward, and I’ve always had a hard time answering that question. I just go, sometimes to my detriment. In the StrengthsFinder assessment, I can easily see it’s about my top two talents, Strategic and Activator.

summit of Mt. HelenaBut as I was hiking on the mountain behind my house yesterday, I realized I don’t just GO.

I was breathing hard as I made that first ascent, following my big dog up to the first high point on the mountain, and found it frustrating, really. I take that path multiple times a week, and it is stillhard for me, a challenge to keep my pace as my heart pounds and my hips ache. I pushed on up the mountain, thinking that if I didn’t want to go past that first high point, I could take another path down, making a much shorter loop than the one I had originally intended as I left the house.

Sarah and Toblerone at the summit of Mt. Helena

But I got to that high point, looked out at the small city below me, and pressed on toward the next high point.

Again, as my breathing got harder and my legs and hips started to feel the fatigue of the ascent, I told myself I could take the next loop back down and go to my nice, warm house for a cup of hot tea. I also reminded myself that once I started back down the mountain, it wasn’t going to be so much work, and my heart rate would slow. Knowing that, I looked up the path to see a familiar curve, and chose to keep moving up the mountain, eventually getting to the summit.

That mountain is so familiar to me, I generally know what’s around each curve, but I find myself endlessly curious, despite that familiarity. Curious to see what might be around that curve, curious to test myself, my persistence, my fitness level, just curious.

That’s it, I realized, a big part of my motivation is that simple. It’s curiosity.

There are days, blustery and cold, or far too hot and dry, that I get to a high point on the mountain and take the shorter, easier route to go back down, rather than explore, or choose to get to the summit. Those are the days I consider my state of mind and my physical limitations, and my motivation falters. If I didn’t have those days, I wouldn’t be able to relate to my coaching clients. Everyone has those days.

Curiosity is what motivates me, and curiosity can be cultivated. My strengths are my strengths, but curiosity is part of my character, just like resilience and persistence.

What will happen next?

What is my challenge this time?

What will I learn, who will I meet, will I fail or succeed?

What will my impact be, how will this positively effect someone else?

Curiosity about the future, curiosity about myself and my abilities. Now I know how to answer that question about what keeps me motivated on my journey of self-employment, and life in general.

How can you cultivate curiosity?

Ask yourself a question every morning: What beauty will today bring?

Ask yourself a question every time you hesitate to work on a project or face a difficult conversation with someone: What will happen next, when this is complete? What positive impact can I have in this conversation?

Those questions will eventually become part of your daily routine, and will become instinct, creating opportunities for deeper observation and motivation.

If curiosity isn’t what drives you, what makes you move forward with intention, what does? Is it setting and achieving goals? Is it the work itself? Are you motivated by the relationships you build with your time and energy?

Finding out what motivates you is the key to finding satisfaction in your life and relationships. Because when you discover that simple detail about yourself, you can use it with intention to move forward and build the life you want.