“Use all that energy on something good, because you won’t always have it.”
My stepdad, Scotty, told me that once.
I was probably nineteen or twenty at the time…
Driving all over the country, telling my jokes, stopping in at his and my mom’s place occasionally to refuel and pick up mail.
I sort of laughed it off when he said it.
I mean, it’s obvious that energy fades with age. I grew up in Florida for cryin’ out loud… There’s a reason they call it “God’s waiting room.”
But, now I get what he was really trying to tell me.
Scotty was a wise man. Hard-working, honest, charismatic. There was a Kayce Dutton quality about him (for the Yellowstone fans).
In different circumstances, he could have done great things.
Instead, by his mid-thirties, he was downing a 12-pack of Busch every night to dull the pains of blue-collar life.
He didn’t believe in doctors, or trust anyone with “an office.”
Around that time, his light began to dim.
The guy who would spontaneously airdrum to Rush, was now constantly quoting Rush Limbaugh.
The love of my mother’s life became a sad shell of the man she’d been swept away by ten years earlier.
Yet, when he warned me about someday losing my “energy,” I didn’t catch his true meaning.
Back then, I equated it to physical energy, of which young people are convinced they have an unlimited supply.
But, the truth is, at 53, I still have a ton of energy.
I’ve been blessed with physical wellness (despite a near-fatal blood infection and open heart surgery at 35), and I do my best to preserve it.
What’s more challenging to harvest as we age, I’ve found, is motivation.
The things that drive us to succeed in our thirties and forties…
… money, status, the need for acceptance, a desire to impress mentors, peers, parents…
… become elusive with life experience.
Self awareness is the #1 killer of blind ambition.
How’s that for shit irony?
The more you evolve, the harder it is to continue evolving.
(Of course, there are individual nuances to this. Results may vary based on whichever personality assessment you currently adhere to. I’ve been immersed in Enneagram. Limited, as they all are, but very revealing.)
What it comes down to though, is finding the right CHALLENGE to motivate you.
Challenges come in two forms – the ones you didn’t ask for,
and the ones you choose.
The ones we don’t want will always come – that’s just life.
The true test of motivation is keeping progress on your chosen challenge while dealing with the unwanted ones.
That’s the job.
To find challenges that motivate you beyond any obstacle life puts in your way.
Keeping your eyes on the prize, and your hunger alive, when it feels like life is trying its damnedest to break you down.
If it were easy, everyone would do it.
And I’ll be here rooting for you.