I had some trouble finding a title for this post for two reasons: 1. The people that constitute the essence of this post are so amazing that no title would be able to do them justice. 2. Motivation as a topic has deep personal roots as it is one of the elements that I permanently try to look for in my loved ones. When I don’t find it, I worry. When I worry, I look up ways in which I can help them out as we all need motivation to power our interests and to pursue our dreams, search for happiness on our own terms.
Reasons for losing motivation along the way can be many: from lack of self-esteem, stress, laziness to fear of being judged, fear of failing, absence of sufficient incentives. Sometimes we are simply self-sufficient, we could aim for more but we choose for staying average.
Recently I read a very good article about the “lost years” syndrome. It is written in Romanian but do try to read it via Google Translate if you find the time. It talks about people choosing not to live their 50’s and 60’s to the fullest simply because they realize that they are not young anymore (according to their IDs) so then … what’s the point? That is one type of behavior I can definitely recognize in a lot of people. You lose the motivation to live even though you haven’t tried to see what life has to offer you at this point in time. We have different things coming around at every age so why not embrace them, make the most of the time we’ve got and … as the author rightfully put it… embrace the change as it is gonna happen anyway!
And then there’s yet another piece of the puzzle which is enthusiasm. It can usually be found easier in younger generations where everything is new and learning has just begun. For older generations, where life experience has built up already, enthusiasm is often harder to find. Enthusiasm and motivation, once lost, are quite tough to regain. But how did people that managed to get back on track do it? What was their fuel? And which people can we look at in order to see the most unexpected results?
OK! So now what? How do we solve this and find a way out? I’ve chosen to refer you to a few examples, some that speak for themselves and sink in for some time after you would have finished reading this post. I’ve chosen to write about a few extraordinary people, all well past a certain age but surely younger and more powerful from within than most of us.
- Fauja Singh – world’s oldest runner completing a marathon at age 100, started training for it at age 89!!! He has found his purpose in running, which gives him peace of mind and a goal to achieve: “Why worry about these small, small things? I don’t stress. You never hear of anyone dying of happiness.”
- Ernestine Shepherd – world’s oldest female body builder – currently 80 years old, started training at age 56: “I say to my senior ladies and my men, age is but a number, and you can get fit.”
- Tomoko – pole dancing at age 70, has competed for Italy’s Got Talent competition and has made a lot of jaws drop because of her amazing performance: “These days we are obsessed with that in a bad way and we believe that when someone is old they shouldn’t show off their bodies any more, but your body is beautiful and full of harmony”.
- Sunny Mckee – became Ironwoman triathlon at age 61 by winning the ultra-endurance cardio-vascular challenge on her birthday. Motivated by people with prosthetics that completed the race, she’s come to a fitness level that exceeds that of her children and grandchildren.
- Paddy Jones – still rocking her Salsa shoes age 82, nominated as world’s oldest acrobatic Salsa dancer by the Guiness book of records. She broke the record at age 77, motivated by the tragic event of losing her husband. One lesson to learn: it doesn’t always have to be a trauma that triggers people to pursue amazing things.
What do they all have in common? Some of them have reached this kind of performance due to a tragedy in their lives, some have found the motivation in others less fortunate than them … Usually something bad needs to happen that will shake us up and make us realize that we live here and now and that we should make the most of what we have. But what if we make our own decisions upfront? What can we learn from people like Ernestine and Sunny?
My conclusion is that it all comes down to the simple things that make us happy. If you don’t have any at the moment, think of a time in your life when you did have joy… What was it that made you smile? Fauja found his inner peace and happiness in running, his balance and next targets. We tend to worry a lot about the future and live a lot in the past. But from what you have right now, what is it that makes you happy? Or what can you bring back? What is the next goal that you can set for yourself and give you that boost you need?
I am writing this article with some of my loved ones in mind. For them but also for all of you that can connect to any of the above, I hope to have managed to help at least a tiny bit to get your motivation back. Call it cliche, call it what you like but we don’t have the luxury of not living life to the fullest from beginning and until the very end.