“In narratology and comparative mythology, the monomyth, or the hero’s journey, is the common template of a broad category of tales and lore that involves a hero who goes on an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed.” – Wikipedia
Six weeks ago, I set out to publish a blog post every weekday. This post marks number 30. In some ways, I wish I would have declared it one of those 30-day challenges when I started. Had I done that, I could declare victory today, be done, and go back to inconsistent posting. Since this is my blog, I suppose I could still do that, but I won’t.
For today’s Monday Motivation post, I want to discuss internal versus external motivation. When you pursue a big goal, do you tell the world or do you keep it to yourself? I’ve read two views on this. The first opinion says you shouldn’t tell anyone. Just grind away, using the motivation of the future “reveal” to keep you going. I believe one problem with this approach is it’s easier to quit. After all, no one knows, right?
The other view is to broadcast your goal for all the world to hear, using this declaration as your motivation. One danger of revealing your goal ahead of time, though, is that you will receive some praise for just saying you have the goal. Sometimes, this praise can be enough to derail your progress. You unintentionally take this praise as your final reward and your progress stops.
Whichever approach works best might boil down to an individual’s personality – can you be internally motivated enough to grind it out in silence or do you need some occasional external spotlights on you to keep going?
I have used both techniques. When I first declared my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon, I put this intent out in print on an old blog site. I wrote posts about my training and my failed attempts. The goal of posting was to keep me motivated and perhaps inspire others. Eventually, I began to wonder if this had been a mistake after yet another blog post detailing my latest failed qualifying attempt. I finally did make it, so the risk of public humiliation paid off.
With my book, I didn’t post much about it on my blog. I mentioned completing the first draft. Then, a year later, I just showed up and said “Hey, I did this. Check it out.” To be totally transparent, I did have an inner circle of friends who read the book ahead of time and gave me input. After their help and suggestions, I took a very long time before I published the completed manuscript. I was probably suffering a bit from the “way-to-go” syndrome mentioned before. Even though 90% of the work was done, their praises for making it that far were almost good enough for me not to cross the finish line with the final product.
These days, as I ponder what’s the point of this particular blog (maybe you do to with my wide variety of topics), I’m having an internal debate on what to reveal as goals for myself and/or this blog. On one hand, I have a history of the public accountability strategy working. On the other hand, there are a couple of those old “F” words hanging out there, too: Fear of Failure.
So let’s say this blog is a hero’s journey about a guy over 40 (way over!) struggling to make the second half of his career better than the first. If that’s the case, what will be the ultimate victory? It is this:
Your hero wakes up every day to pursue work that he wants to do, while actually making a good living at it.
Is this as an author? Maybe. What about an entrepreneur? Maybe. What about working a day job for someone else, as he’s done for almost 30 years? Unlikely, as that particular journey has created many of the headaches he battles today, but some believe miracles can happen. You’ll just need to stick around to find out.
So what about you? Are you on a hero’s journey? Does the world know it? Does the world need to know?
Thanks for reading,
PS. One of the goals of my current writing challenge was to find my writing groove, and I’ve done that. You may question the quality, but I’m back in decent writing shape and able to crank out many more words per hour than just six weeks ago. What this means is that I need to start channeling some effort and time into my fiction writing. After all, book two has been a work-in-progress for some time, and frankly, I’m tired of having it rolling around in my head. Notice, I didn’t throw a date out there yet. I have one in mind, but I’m not quite ready for that public commitment! I do not know what the upcoming switch to fiction focus means for the daily blog post yet, but something will likely change.