My Personal Motivation and Balance

I am the type of person who throws herself into projects with a serious amount of gusto, often not considering the consequences until it’s too late. Then I freak out and back away slowly. It’s not a good model for my future life.

I think that the most difficult thing is that while I have a really hard time asking for favors, I have no problem dolling them out. But favors are never simple. Advice is never just advice. There’s always more.

I want to be a resource, which is why I have considered starting a website called “How to Start a Theater Project.” In all seriousness, it would be pretty awesome, right? I would create the framework, and then hopefully get other arts administrators to weigh in. Super fun. My aim is to help young artists and producers work smart from the very beginning. It’s so easy and so possible, and the kids these days have so many great ideas and tools at their fingertips. Seriously.

But I digress.

My problem is that I need a really strong internal motivation to come to work every day. Right now, my motivation is paying my rent, if I’m being honest. In general, I start to falter if I am not really committed to the mission of the company or organization, or if my colleagues are negative. Conversely, if I am inspired by the mission, I will put with a lot (and eventually too much) in order to make that mission succeed. I will dig in for the long haul, despite how detrimental it could be emotionally or psychologically.

I need to find a balance here. I need to be motivated without being obsessed, to be constructive without being overly involved in unhealthy behavior, to hold myself to a high standard without judging other people, to practice patience, to be a better listener, and to speak up when a situation is uncomfortable for me, without being hostile.

To a certain extent, I am afraid that to me, “working hard” feels like burnout and unhappiness. When I don’t feel bad, I feel bored. This isn’t a healthy attitude, clearly, though if I reflect on my work experience in the last ten years, it makes tons of sense. If I am doing something I love (working in theater for instance), I am working 14 hour days and getting paid nothing, totally overwhelmed. If I am doing something that is “fine,” like temping, I am happy, but bored out of my skull. I need to change this dynamic! I need to work on projects that I love with people who are nice. I love to work hard, but I have reached a point in my life when I cannot accept abuse as the defacto management style.

I worry all the time that I am actually a terrible employee, and that I project all my unhappiness onto my bosses (both past and future) because I am just a lazy person who had a problem with authority.  But this isn’t true. I’m not perfect but I’m not some monster. I know the right situation is out there. It might mean another turn in graduate school to get there. It might mean that I can’t afford all the things I want in terms of shoes, vacations, or even morning coffees, for a while. It will definitely mean that I will need to grow and learn new skills and challenge myself. But that’s something I can get excited about.

1 comment
  1. What an incredibly honest post. I don’t think you’re too dissimilar from many people – I know that I work best on projects, as like you, I love to throw myself into something that I really believe in and then may end up burnt out just as you say. If you find the solution, do let me know!

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