I’m one of those people that requires, before learning any new thing, a reason for why it must be done, and to know what impact it may have. In my case, this serves two purposes.
- I am able to learn to do said task better, understanding the importance of the intricacies of it.
- I am able to determine whether it is something worthy of spending my time on.
At my workplace I have found when training new staff (or doing some review with more seasoned ones) that teaching them the basics in how to do the job is quite easy, but can result in less than perfect results. When I have taken the time to go through what the reason behind the work is – what our clientele is looking for, how specifically our work impacts other people and the domino effect it could have, and how our work affects other positions and the work other people do within our same workplace, the quality of the work increases exponentially, and those fine details that may have been passed over as seeming unnecessary or redundant are given new attention to.
It has also allowed us to look at old procedure and policies and scrap or re-model them entirely, seeing that the end result has no more impact on anything in our more modern times, and helps us to eliminate unnecessary steps in other transactions.
More than anything, having a reason behind something and a reasonable predicted impact of it is easiest to apply to your day job, because operational hours and resources are at such a premium that there needs to be a reason behind everything, but mostly because you have the best reason of all for being there and learning and performing these tasks: Money.
If you’re anything like me you go to work, perform your necessary duties, and execute them to the highest standard of which you are capable, but then come home and may shirk things off, procrastinate, never get around to doing other things, do a mediocre job on others, and wonder why it is that you can’t function with the same amount of competency in your own life as you do inside the workplace.
This is something I’ve put a little bit of thought into recently, recognizing how much easier it feels to be washing my lunch dishes up in the kitchen at work than it is to clean up after myself at home. And it took quite a while to figure it out for myself. It’s not that I’m lazy and completely lacking in drive, but when I am at work I have clearly defined and easy to pinpoint reasons for being there and doing what I do there. Keeping my desk relatively neat and clean and not unpleasant for my nearby coworkers is a good reason for doing my dishes regularly. But when I come home, I don’t see any good reason for doing many things, and therefore don’t until they become necessary.
It may or may not apply to you, but I’ve discovered that my motivating force behind anything is quite simply the reasoning behind it. Call it your reason, or call it your why, but it’s something I need for myself in order to carry through with anything.
I’ve used the unmade bed example in previous posts, so I’ll carry on with that. You see, my mother is always telling me, “Make your bed every day, the second you get out of it. You will feel better”. Now, I never understood why I should be doing this. It looks neat and tidy, sure. But I’m not sitting in my bedroom all day. In fact, I rarely even look in it. I live alone and no one else sees it or is affected by it. I do not spend hours whiling away in there now that I am not a teenager and living under my own roof. I’m just going to get in there at the end of the day and rumple the duvet yet again.
You see, I was always looking at just the ‘what’ (the mechanics of it, and the task itself) in terms of making my bed, so I would never do it. It seemed pointless and unnecessary effort (anyone who has ever seen Cheaper by the Dozen in theatre may recognize this as ‘waste motions’). But you know what I never did think about? The reason. The reason behind why I should be making it each day upon waking, and why I should be doing a good job of it. So for a little inspiration and for narrative purposes, I came up with some reasons why I should be making my bed each day (and I may not be perfect at doing it as routinely as an adult really should, but I am getting better):
- It is good for my mental health. Even the hidden clutter and those things in your space that are out of sight (but not out of mind) add to your mental clutter and can impact upon your sense of happiness, contentment and mental clarity; it psychologically weighs you down.
- Unexpected company can stop by and I can rush to the door instead of rushing to shut my bedroom door. My bedroom window shines right through on into my living room. I rather enjoy it. I am more comfortable in my space with that door open as opposed to closed – it feels airier and brighter – and can enjoy my visit more.
- It looks more inviting and makes me feel more at home. With it made (and my room kept in reasonable condition) I feel more comfortable and am, in fact, happier being at home. I even go into my bedroom more and look in it more often now. I even contemplate on occasion a good old fashioned cat nap in it now, as opposed to the sofa. Mom was right on this one.
Now excuse me while I rush off to go make my bed.
Okay. Now that’s done.
If you’ve found yourself putting off anything in your day to day life, or need that magic push for motivation, you can utilize this ‘reason’ principle for anything.
Maintaining my own mental and physical health is a primary factor in many things I do, so (amongst many, many other reasons) to keep me physically active and to assist with my depression I got my pup. That was 4 1/2 years ago and was the best thing I’ve ever done. My health was just one of many reasons why I got him, but it was an important one. And many things that I now do, and many of the decisions I’ve made over the years have been with him in mind – he has now become my ‘reason’ for practically everything.
You may skip sunscreen, hydration, moisturizer because you don’t need them ‘yet’, or to save time, or because they’re inconvenient. But no matter your age, you are likely dabbling at one or more or considering doing them more often because there are very good reasons for it. Skin cancer is not pleasant (and potentially fatal). Your skin will age at a far less progressive rate if you take care of it regularly. You’ll look better for it.
You may not take the trash out of your apartment as frequently as you should, because it’s nowhere near full yet; it is a waste of resources and effort. But the reason you should do it anyhow is because it will smell, affecting your quality of life and possibly those of the other occupants in the building. Because it could attract pests and infestation – affecting not just you, but again, the other occupants in your building.
You might not stretch every day and don’t see the point. But maybe you’ve thought about it, and are looking for that motivation to do so. Perhaps your reason is that you’ve always wanted to do the splits, and you need to start somewhere. Perhaps your reason is that you don’t want to end up like your older relatives that all have mobility issues and you’ve heard it’s great for arthritis.
You might think about running and never get around to it, putting it off to tomorrow, same as always. So you go and sign yourself up for a race just a few months down the road. You now have given yourself a very good reason to get out there and hit the pavement every day. (Because sometimes, when your reason – say your health – is not good enough, you need to go and create a better one.)
And then you apply the same thinking to the bigger things. You may not enjoy leaving the coziness of your living room, but you want to strengthen your friendships, you always wondered what the fuss is about the appetizer your friends are always raving about at the restaurant you always decline attending with them, you may want to put yourself in a position to meet a new romantic prospect. Those are your reasons; your driving factor in leaving the safety of your own home, when you otherwise might not.
Even if you do not currently, in the future you may decide a change in career paths is in order or a fantastic opportunity may come your way. That might be your reason for continuing on with learning opportunities, community service, for broadening your horizons interest wise or learning a new language.
You may be able to find the motivation and desire to do these things all on your own, just for the sake of doing. But if you’ve found yourself no longer doing things and not finding the point in them, then guaranteed you are going to find yourself in a position like me and my bed – writing it off because you cannot see the point – leaving it sitting, unmade, rumpled, uninviting, until that day you are ready to sit and assign a reason to whatever your ‘what’ is.