Thoughtful Thursday: Obligation is the Worst Form of Motivation

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Check out this week’s Thoughtful Thursday post about motivation.  Sometimes we get bogged down with trying to figure out how to motivate ourselves to do the things we want to do (like travel!) and not just the things you feel you should do because you feel obligated to accomplish them. Read on to find how inspiration can lead to a greater path of motivation!

Guest blog post by Christine Hassler

Are you “should”-ing all over yourself? Do many of the sentences that make up your inner dialogue or conversations begin with the word “I should?” If so, you may find yourself exhausted, depleted, confused, angry/irritable, depressed or all of the above! Why? Because obligation is the WORST form of motivation. Doing something for the primary reason of thinking you should keeps you from doing (and knowing) the things you really want to do.

Think of it this way: if you are doing something because you feel obligated by someone or something to do it, the motivation is coming from outside of you. You are not inspired, you are shoulding on yourself! Inspiration is the kind of internal and self-directed motivation that creates fulfilling and on-course results in our lives. True that obligation can indeed get us to take action, but there is rarely any joy or creativity in moving from obligation. Moreover, any results you produce from shoulding all over yourself are usually not lasting.

For example, let’s say you start working out more and eating better because you think you “should.” You may be motivated for a week, a month, maybe even a few months but then you may be right back into old habits. In order adopt a healthy lifestyle, the motivation has to come from a true place of willingness and choice – not just for the results you want but for what it takes to get there.

Let’s take another example of doing something for someone else to avoid upsetting them in some way. Immediately you may feel relieved that you avoided confrontation or pleased someone else but down the road you may realize that you forgot to check in with the needs of one very important person: YOU.

Today, create UPliftment in your own life by saying no to using obligation as motivation. There is really no such thing that you “should” do so stop shoulding on yourself. Replace the “have to’s” in your life with “want to’s.” Rather than thinking and speaking in “I should’s,” use “I choose” and begin to notice INspiration is a much better type of motivation!



“Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself.” 
- Richard Bach

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” 
- Steve Jobs

About the Author:

Christine Hassler left her successful job as a Hollywood agent at 25 to pursue a life she could be passionate about…but it did not come easily. After being inspired by her own unexpected challenges and experiences, she realized her journey was indeed her destination. In 2005, she wrote the first guide book written exclusively for young women, entitled 20 Something 20 Everything. Christine’s second book, The 20 Something Manifesto written for men and women stems from her experience coaching twenty-something’s.

Today, she supports individuals as a Life Coach helping clients discover the answers to the questions: “Who Am I, What do I want, and How do I get it?” As a professional speaker, Christine leads seminars and workshops to audiences around the country. She has spoken to over 10,000 college students as well as to conferences and corporations about generational diversity. Christine has appeared as an expert on The Today Show, CNN, ABC, CBS, FOX, E!, Style and PBS, as well as various local television and radio shows, speaking about life issues and “Expectation Hangovers®” – a phenomenon she identified and trademarked.

Christine is the spokesperson for Zync from American Express and the key resource for their Quarterlife Program which empowers young people to take control of their finances. She also created a life balance curriculum for the Leadership Institute and is a member of Northwestern University’s Council of 100.


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