Over the years I have learned to recognize what motivates me to push myself, and one of my primary motivators is a very specific thing, one that can be hard to put into words, but I’ll try.
If there is something I am interested in (i.e. obsessed by), I get highly motivated to see if I can pull it off – in my own mind I’m thinking “can I do this?” I see this play out over and over again in my life. The more difficult the better.
Now I’m not saying that I always succeed, because to have this mind set by definition means that you are going to fail, quite a lot actually. But it’s the moment of trying to do something that I can’t quite do where I feel the most alive.
Music always provided the ultimate challenge – I can remember the grim terror of going on stage trying to pull off a performance of music I had written and rehearsed with my band and it was fucking exhilarating. I wasn’t great but I was striving to be great, and that’s where the fun is.
So now I am writing fiction and it’s exactly the same thing, without the terror of failing in front of a live audience. I get an idea for a short story, and then it becomes a question of “Can I pull this off?“
Likewise for this blog – “Can I write something everyday that expresses an idea? Do I have the discipline to do it for a year? What about two years?”
I am motivated by the same thing in ER nursing – I love the challenge of administering the best care in an impossible situation. That’s why I secretly like it the crazier it gets, because it becomes more and more challenging to pull it off. You are just totally in the moment of trying to make something happen and nothing else matters. It’s great when you succeed, but that’s not the payoff.
The payoff is the actual act of trying to do it.