What motivates you


Mirai Suenaga by Tasuku Iizuki and Danny Choo

Every now and then I slip on over to Danny Choo’s website and read my way through some of his articles. Inevitably sometimes I drop into his posts on his advice on careers, or general life advice really, and much of the time it is humbling, but also inspirational.

The post I’ve read most recently (not the most recent post I’ve read though) is his post on why money doesn’t motivate him, and it’s enlightening to say the least, probably because my sole motivator to go to work recently has been the pay — more about this later. For what it’s worth, I was always curious how he made any money though it didn’t seem to me that money was a motivating factor for him.

Although I wish I could say that the reason I chose to work at my recent jobs was a true admiration of their work, I can’t really say it was that way at first. The first job was a recycling startup, and while I slowly began to appreciate what an impact on not only the environment but the economical and societal impact they could have, at the same time I was working for the money.

One very, very apt thing that Danny said in his post is what made me read on until the end:

Life is a jigsaw puzzle. You don't know what's going to go where, you don't know where the pieces are but you do know that you need to keep looking for the pieces and figure out where they go. All events that happen to you is a piece of your puzzle. if you are stuck in a rut at school or work and keep asking yourself the "what if" question then its a sign telling you that there are no more pieces of the puzzle to be found where you are.

One of the reasons I left corporate life is because I felt that there was no more room for me to achieve, be challenged or grow - and more importantly - I felt that I had collected all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that I was looking for in corporate life. It didn't matter how much more money I was going to get - it was not going to buy me any more jigsaw pieces.

At the moment, I feel as though there are truly no more pieces where I am in life right now. I feel like my partner is managing to pick up many more pieces now than he ever has, which is truly is a great thing, but for me these pieces have dried up and I desperately want to move on and go somewhere, or at least feel like I’m going somewhere.

But there are pieces everywhere, and even if I may be picking them up extremely slowly now doesn’t mean there aren’t any at all. After reading Danny’s post, I pondered on what motivates me?, given that I have so little motivation these days to do anything. One thing, or rather person, that motivates me is obviously my partner, Ruben. But there are links from Ruben to the true motivator, which I think is essentially freedom.

Ruben motivates me because not only do I want to make sure I can carve out a future with him, relatively free of the judgement and chains of my parents, but also because be liberates me and allows me to be me and do things my parents would usually not allow me to do. I am looking for this sense of liberation, which is possibly why I never have the motivation to do something once it starts to be part of classwork, or work, or rules are drawn around it.

Perhaps it is not necessarily money that motivates me, but the perception of freedom that money brings. I finally have freedom over the control of my finances, freedom to purchase whatever I like whenever I like. But I still do not have the freedom to leave and return whenever I like, or to eat whatever I’d like, or to go where I’d like. Money is an enabler, it could allow me to eventually move out and forge my own life path instead of feeling like my parents are holding me back.

Kizuna Yumeno by Tasuku Iizuki and Danny Choo.

I’m not yet at the stage where, like Danny and Ruben, “what I want from life right now are things which money can’t buy”, even if this is different for each mentioned person. I feel like I’ve regressed in some ways, as I feel like I’ve been there at some point, but turned back.

Working and studying at the same time didn’t dampen Danny’s motivation to get to where he wanted to be, but for me it has sapped the motivation and strength from me such that I have slipped to following what Danny calls the ‘Default Life Template’. Perhaps this is because my work isn’t linked to my passions as Danny’s was, but that would require understanding what my passions are in the first place. The zero motivation that I have these days has been worrying, and I’m still trying to work out what to do.

Money motivates me at this point in life, I’ll have to admit that, as it symbolises freedom, but also respect — which I think is another big thing for me inexplicably. But for now, money is an enabler to get me to the next point I want to be at in life, at which point I hope that it will be less important what I earn, than it will be what I want to learn or challenge myself with. I’d always thought I didn’t set goals in life, but perhaps I do, even if I don’t know how I’m going to get there. I suppose none of us never really do know. It’s a mistake not to set goals just because the path is unclear, as I have usually done.

I have difficulty asking questions. I hear most kids pepper their parents with questions like ‘why is the sky blue?’ or ‘why did they build the Great Wall?’, but I just don’t recall having a lot of that sort of curiosity… Or perhaps my parents squashed it out of me by wanting me to be a quiet, well behaved child. Either way, the time is right to begin asking why, why, why

But hopefully why in the right way, not ‘why do good things never come to me?’, but perhaps more ‘why should I do this, and not this?’. ‘Where should I go next?’

Images from/by Danny Choo. Both Illusts by Tasuku Iizuki.