Motivation: activation, persistence, intensity

Its come to the end of January, and my theme of resolutions is also coming to an end.

This past weekend, I had off from pretty much everything.  No work, no studio: just my kids, a To Do list and a few hours of volunteering.
And yet, besides volunteering and going ice skating, I didn’t really accomplish anything.  In fact, the slothness seemed to spill over the rest of the week, because I haven’t accomplished much other than the basics all week.  This caused me to wonder why motivation wanes and dips periodically.  My goals haven’t changed, but my motivation did this week.
The definition of motivation is the reason why we act or our desire to do things a certain way.  I wasn’t acting the way I wanted to in order to meet my goals this week, and so I’ve been thinking a lot of why that is.  There is a myriad of stressors in my life, and while they haven’t changed over the past year, they did seem to be rather intense this week, both because I’ve been making progress towards alleviating them, but also because that same progress seems to be acting like sandpaper and grating on many aspects of my life.
So, was my lack of motivation this week my brain’s way of saying ‘You’re going to blow a gasket.  Here’s a kit kat.’?
I asked others what motivates them, and I got a couple of very different answers.  One friend told me her kids motivate her.  She can’t back down because they count on her.  This is true for all parents I think.  I know that I push myself to be the best version of me for the sake of my kids more so than for my own desire.
Someone else told me he’s motivated because he feels he needs to catch up.  He led a life that took him down an undesired path, and now that he’s rejoined the rest of society, he feels he has to not just catch up, but share the lessons he’s learned and give back to the world that gave him a second chance.
I think my own motivation comes from many aspects; my children, my desire to be happy, and the need to be something creative.
About.com explains that motivation comes in three components, activation, persistence and intensity.  Activation is the decision to change or act a certain way.  persistance is the continued effort towards the goal.  Intensity is the concentration and vigor one puts forth toward the goals.  Given that, maybe it wasn’t a lack of motivation this week, but just a lack of intensity?
What motivates you?  What do you do to restore your motivation or intensity when it seems to have lost its luster?

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some thoughts on the art of writing, because there’s a lot of garbage out there

I get asked often if I ever like a book because I seem to be so hard on them.  Well, the truth is, it is rare that I do love a book because there is so much fluff out there.  Writers seem to write to the numbers, not to what needs to be written.  Check this article out.

some thoughts on the art of writing, because there’s a lot of garbage out there.

How To Create a Great Development Plan

Continuing with yesterday’s topic development plans, I did a bit of research on how to make them a more useful and successful tool.

Lifehacker has a great article on how to write a personal development plan.  Read it here and here

Great Leaders by Dan McCarthy has an article on writing one, even if you don’t plan on moving up the ladder just yet.  Check it out here.

And if you aren’t feeling that motivated, Tiny Buddha has an article on how to get there.

What’s with these IDPs anyway?

I am not a failure.  I’ve seen my own share of success,  and don’t back down from a challenge, yet I cringe when the yearly IDP is thrown around the workplace.
Employers spend a lot of money rolling out Independent Development Plans, implementing them, not to mention the payroll to execute them.
I work hard while I’m at work.   I learn as much as I can about my current employment.  But when my manager, and it doesn’t matter which one, tells me its time for me to work on  my IDP, I feel this defensive, “Get out of my bubble” feeling, like they’ve asked me something which is way too personal.

I don’t want to share what my goals.
I don’t want to go in the direction my employer thinks I should.
I’m just not committed enough to really have a goal in mind.
I just want my pay cheque so I pursue my real passion.
Nothing will come of this, but its a nice piece of paper to have.
Its like being asked what I want to be when I grow up, but only if I work for this company.
These are all answers I received when I asked various people to tell me their thoughts on IDP’s.

In every place I’ve worked, as IDP season comes up, I fill in the blanks, and hand it back to my employer, so it can be filed and asked to be resubmitted again the next year.  In fact, I’ve resubmitted the same report a few years in a row, just to see if anyone noticed.  No one did.  It’s not the intentions of the employer to have the program fail.  It’s a lack of resources.  Staffing is trimmed in most places to the extreme, where most employees do the work meant for at least two people, and managers are no exception.  Having to do their jobs, plus manage an IDP program for their staff as well as their own…  there’s just not enough hours in the day.
Why do companies use the IDP program, and insist on their staff participating, knowing that unless that person is highly motivated (and in which case probably already has come up with their own game plan anyway) it might not make a lick of difference to move that employee forward?  To propagate motivation.
IDP season is a chance to give the employer a spotlight to show on each individual and say “Look what you can do at our company.”  To foster a sense of ownership of the employees own merits, which should stave off employee turnover for just a bit longer.  And a failed IDP program is still cheaper than training someone new.
I’d like to explore this topic more.  After all, in theory it is a program meant to help everyone succeed.  How can I use it when my goals don’t coincide with my employers?
Thoughts?  Has anyone used an Employer directed development plan and made good on their goals?  How did you this play out?

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The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I actually finished this book last month, but it has stuck with me and inspired me till this day, that I feel I need to honour it with its own review.

I fell upon this book through the Todoist blog and borrowed it from my local library that night.

At first, I’m not going to lie, I thought it was fluff and a silly self-help book.  Gretchen is a full-time writer, has more time, resources, and it would seem money, to throw at her project than I would, but it is still none the less inspiring.  I will not be going full-scale like she did, but I did write my own 10 Commandments list, and feel this book lead to my epiphany to do what I want, and write.   The lesson she learned on earning gold stars is something I myself am working on and can see in others more now.  I will reread again to gain another dose of inspiration and happiness injection and recommend this book to those who feel like they’ve lost something, but can’t quite put their finger on it.

Kathy Reichs – Bare Bones Book Review

Bare Bones by Kathy Reichs
There are two things I would like you to keep in mind while reading this review.
This is the first book I’ve read not only in the ‘Bones’ series, but also by Kathy Reichs.  Yes, I know its not the first book in the series.  Yes, I know I probably should have started at the beginning of series, especially since it seems to refer to fleeting images I can only imagine are from previous books in the series.  But I don’t like being told where to go.
Secondly, I have watched pretty much all of the TV series which was inspired by this book series.  And while I am acutely aware that the book and its screen version are never the same, it was hard to adjust from the TV version of the Tempe Brennan to the book version.
I like when books start immediatly with action, instead of a slow winding, and with a dead body right off the hop, my interest was peaked right away.  Sadly it didnt stay there.
Written in the first person, I had a hard time grasping the personality of this woman.  In certain ways she seemed overly clinical and annoyed me with phrases like ‘memory cells… expand the image…’  But her interior monolgue seemed to be sensitive.  The narrative voice is choppy and abrupt.  I can’t say whether this is to add to the character of Tempe Brennan or of the author of herself.
Perhaps it was done in previous books, and Kathy expected it to carry forward for the remainder of the series, however I found the character development seems rather linear with characters that seem to play a significant role to the plot.  What’s the deal with Ryan?  Is he a boy toy? Is she the one being used? Are the a couple?
I felt the story was a bit researched to death.  I get that information that is needed to help the plot progress move along must to be presented in to the reader somehow… but I find it hard to believe that Dr. Brennan wouldn’t know about Diatoms.  Seriously?
The ending was the biggest let down for me.  The action gets good, Brennan escapes from a near death experience, the mystery is unravelled, only to have the cop she doesn’t even like put the pieces together for her while she’s in the hospital.  And then that Ryan guy appears again, goes to a beach with her, fills her in on how the whole kerfuffle unfolded… and she rants about endangered species.   The end.
It wasn’t terrible, and I did read through it fairly quickly.   But I’m not sure I’ll be reaching for another dose right away…  Maybe next month.

Four Literary Questions

Janet Fitch's Blog

This question was posed for me by a reader on my Goodreads page. For me, the best questions are the ones that make me think more deeply about the issues involved. This was a good one:
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 “What makes a great story/book? There are so many writers out there, but only a few get any acclaim, and some of the best posthumously. It is a herd mentality that snowballs into popularity?”
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The questioner is actually asking four separate questions here.
1. What makes a great story?
2. What makes a great book?
3. Why do only a few books get acclaim?
4. Is it a herd mentality that snowballs a book into popularity.
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I answered them in order–but Number 2 is the one that interests me most.
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1. A great story is one which satisfies the question it raises in the beginning. It can be a…

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