My sister recently reminded me of this little piece of advice. Actually, she may have told me to get a life, but what I chose to hear was, “get a hobby.” For months I had been fixated on an issue with my HOA. It seemed that nothing I did or said got any results. E-mails and phone calls went unanswered, even the e-mails in which I offered to help in any way I could fell on deaf ears (and blind eyes). Every time I was rebuffed, I’d vent to my sister about it. I knew she understood because she had been through a similar situation. Eventually she had enough and she said, “Find something else to focus on. Get a hobby!” I asked her if this was what she had done and she said yes. Her frustrations lessened when she started directing her attention towards other things. The only problem was that my sister and I have vastly different interests. I couldn’t imagine myself doing some of her recreational activities, BUT the advice was still solid. I just needed to identify activities that motivated me.
In 1961 psychologist, John McClelland https://psychology.fas.harvard.edu/people/david-mcclelland came up with his theory of human motivation. It is referred to by many names: Human Motivation Theory, Needs Theory of Motivation, and Acquired Needs Theory. Although I have been unable to find a viable assessment to identify what motivates a person based on McClelland’s theory, the concept is so simple that I think if you look within, your motivation is easy to identify. McClelland’s theory of motivation suggests that individuals, regardless of background, experience, or demographics, are motivated by one of three things:
- Achievement – the desire to set and achieve goals
- Affiliation – the desire to engage with other people as part of a group
- Authority - the desire to influence others and to be in positions of leadership
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that these have to be huge endeavors. You don’t have to get your Ph.D. to feel as if you’ve achieved something. You don’t have to join the local Chamber of Commerce (although you certainly could) to feel as if you’re a part of a group. You don’t have to be your company’s CEO in order to be in a position of leadership. Little victories can bring you great satisfaction.
One of my favorite quotations is attributed to Helen Keller, “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.” This quotation has helped me to appreciate all of the little victories I’ve had over the years. There were no parades on my behalf or write-ups in my local newspaper (or random internet blogs), but the victories meant something to me and that was all that mattered.
I’ve always known that I am motivated by achievement (that explains all the degrees and random classes I’ve taken over the years); but my latest gateway to achievement comes in the form of diamond painting. Have you ever heard of it? I hadn’t until a few months ago, but a random YouTube video introduced it to me and I decided to give it a try. It’s essentially painting by numbers, but instead of paint, you use tiny, multi-faceted beads.
It’s tedious. It’s time consuming. My sister can’t comprehend why anyone would do it, but I always feel good when I complete one. It scratches my itch for achievement (since I still haven’t figured out how to earn a living as a career student). A couple of my projects are below. Each one requires about 12,000 beads and 15 hours to complete (and these are the small ones), but it’s so worth it.
Join your local adult kickball league! Become a member of your HOA board! Identify what motivates you and find a way to make it a regular part of your life no matter how big or small.