4 Motivational Sayings that Make Sense

Every once in a while, it seems like the universe throws you a curve ball. The whole world seems to conspire against you, and you can’t to win for losing. People are unfair, life is unfair, and whatever is happening to you: you don’t deserve it.

But as Clint Eastwood’s character said in Unforgiven, “Deserve got nothing to do with it.”

I’ve never been one for pep talks and motivational fluff. At their best, they are pointless, at their worst, cynical and deceptive. Colonel Saito’s “Be Happy in Your Work” speech in The Bridge Across the River Kwai is a perfect example. The 1957 classic starring Sir Alec Guinness featured a sadistic commander of a Japanese POW camp who sugarcoated the mistreatment of the Allied prisoners with motivational speeches.

If nothing else, when life rewards your hard work with a major setback, you’ve earned complaining rights. Exercise them, but only for a short while. Complaining rights allow you to recognize that you are angry, and anger is an indicator that something in your life isn’t right. Quietly suffering “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortunes,” as Hamlet proposes, only gives you license not to do anything about the direction your life has taken. It’s an excuse to let others run your life, and other people generally place their interests above yours. Today’s important thinkers from Starhawk to Larry Winget point out that anger is an important alarm bell and an excellent motivator.

So forget the motivational junk. At 212 degrees, water will only give you third degree burns; it needs to be heated to at least 270 degrees to create enough pressure to power a steam engine. No one can survive at that temperature. Giving it 110%, another motivational platitude, only burdens you with interest you’ll never be able to pay back.

That’s what you’ve been doing all along, and it has left you burned and broke.

Here’s a motivational saying that makes sense: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

You’ve gotten burned. You’ve gotten angry. Your complaining has taught you that. Good. And now it’s time to do something about your situation. Do something. Anything. Because if you don’t, nothing will change. Take a look at the path your headed. Where does it lead? Probably not anywhere good. That’s why you’ve been tired and angry all along.

But be smart about it. Get your bearings first and don’t just quit your job without having a plan B. Stay in your current gig, however lousy it may be at the time. But instead of wasting your time watching TV or playing World of Warcraft, start hatching your escape plan.

Here’s another motivational saying that makes sense: “You can stop your whining now.”

Remain stuck in complaining mode, and complaining is all you’ll be able to do. Meanwhile, your life continues to fall apart. You may have been a victim of circumstances or office politics up to this point, but keep it up and the only person victimizing you will be the person you see when you look in the mirror.

Besides, whining will only make you feel more miserable. In that case, you may as well stay in your current job.

You have a choice now, a choice you may not have seen before. Your task now is to make that choice.

Oh, and here’s another motivational saying that makes sense: “Have a plan.”

Don’t let others tell you what options you have. Other people are not responsible for your success or happiness. They’re not interested in it, either. If it’s in their best interest to tell you you’re incompetent, that’s exactly what they’ll tell you — especially if it’s not true. If it’s in their best interest to ruin your day, they’ll do just that. And if it’s in their best interest to present you with unacceptable options, guess what? That’s exactly what they will do. Sun-Tzu stated that a well-run organization’s most essential quality is governance by moral law, but Machiavelli pointed out that leaders will get by just fine as long as that’s what the rank and file believe. Other people will present you with options that are best for them. It is your responsibility to chose those options that are best for you. And if others only give you unacceptable options, it’s time to start looking elsewhere.

You need to have a plan well before it gets to this point. Interpersonal and professional disasters rarely happen out of the blue. You can usually see them coming a mile away. Start packing your parachute when you see them on the horizon.

Here’s one last motivational saying: “Freedom isn’t Free.”

It is not a cliche and it doesn’t apply to military action only. It applies to every aspect of life. The price of freedom is responsibility.

You can quit your job, but you can’t quit your bills. If your are responsible for your own paycheck, you are also responsible for paying your own taxes. You can set your own hours, but you can’t call it a day until your work is done. That means you have to run the numbers. How many books do you needs to sell on ebay every day to pay the bills? How may art objects do you need to sell on etsy every day? How many articles do you need to write for AC or DMS? And how much money do you need to set aside for taxes? You better know the answers to all these questions. More importantly, you better likethose answers.

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