April 24, 2018
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Mind Body and Spirit

Steven Campbell
Motivation that works
April 13, 2018

In order to motivate ourselves, we often say, “I HAVE to do this!” and usually end it with “or else!” How does our mind react? Well…how do YOU react when I suddenly push on the palm of your hand with my own palm?  

You push back!  

Your brain reacts the same way. It does NOT like to be told what it MUST do!  

So…today let’s consider “constructive motivation,” by realizing that there are very few “have-to’s” in our lives. When I made this statement to my university students, it usually caused quite a stir.

Let’s explore the reason

All of us think we have a lot of “have-to’s in our lives. We have to get dressed…we have to brush our teeth… we have to pay our taxes… we have to change the diapers.

However, none of these are really have-to’s. We don’t have to get dressed…or brush our teeth…or pay our taxes…or change the diapers.

What do I mean? Think of this:

You don’t really have to get dressed…if you can handle the stares, the embarrassment and eventually the police dragging you away.

And you don’t have to change the diapers: just leave them on and they’ll eventually fall off.

My students then protest, “But I don’t want to live that way!” I then point out that along with free will, they must also accept the consequences of those decisions. 

In other words, if they decide to not get dressed, the consequences will be stares, embarrassment and the police. 

And if they decide to no longer change the diapers, the consequence will be a particularly unpleasant odor emanating from their house.

The point is that there is only one real have-to in the world…we have to die. Everything else is our choice. However, we must also accept the consequence of our decisions. 

Now…the realization that almost everything we do is a matter of free choice opens a whole new dimension to goal-setting; a dimension that most of us have never known was available. That is the dimension of constructive motivation. Constructive motivation is based on the value of what we want to do, rather than what we have to do.  It is a “get-to,” rather than a have-to. You don’t have to accept the consequences of your decisions, you welcome them. Your goals are then based on the following three incentives: 

I don’t have to meet them, I want to meet them

I like what I am becoming, and I love what I am doing…

…and they are my idea.

In order for your mind to become your motivators, these three incentives can become the motivation behind all of your goals.

With these in mind, let’s return to the two have-to’s we considered before and convert them to get-to’s

You don’t have to get dressed, you get to dress because what you wear is a reflection of who you are and you like who you are.

You don’t have to change the diapers, you get to because you can then enjoy those precious moments of that little face staring up at you while you are changing them. That time will be gone so quickly, so you intend to enjoy every moment while you can.

Releasing the energy

The primary reason that constructive motivation is so affective for goal-setting is in the motivational energy your mind releases. When you are doing things you want to do, the energy just seems to come from nowhere.  

When you have a pre-school boy with an older brother who is already going to kindergarten, he listens to all the stories which his brother tells of school. And the more he hears, the more excited he becomes. So when the day finally arrives for his first day of school, you can hardly keep him at the breakfast table. Why; because he wants to go to school. Going to school has not yet become a have-to.

When I wrote my first book, I had to get up at 3:30 in the morning and write until 6:00 a.m. After it was published, I somehow never broke the habit. So when I awake at 3:30 a.m. now, rather than trying to get back to sleep, I drive over to Warrington Hill off Petaluma Hill Road and jog to the top. (It takes about 30 minutes one-way…err. I jog REALLY slow! I recently timed it and I jog at about two miles per hour!) 

However, it is my favorite time of the day. I get to listen to my favorite music, or my favorite Bible studies.  

However, if I awoke saying to myself, “I’ve GOT to get up because it’s good for me, and if I don’t, I’ll get diabetes, or gain weight, or high blood pressure, or die early,” my brain can find a thousand reasons to stay in bed. But when I do wake up, my first thought is how beautiful it will be when I reach the top, where you can see the stars above and the city lights below. So my brain wakes me up and I don my running shoes and my iPod Shuffle, drive over to the hill and start jogging. Again…it is my favorite time of the day.

So how can we turn restrictive motivation into constructive?  We’ll learn that in two weeks!

Steven Campbell is the author of “Making Your Mind Magnificent” and conducts “The Winners Circle” every two months at Sonoma Mountain Village in RP. Contact Steven at 480-5007 or go his website at to ask about his one-day free monthly seminar.