One Remarkable Motivation Lesson Learned from a Dog

Motivation Lesson

This guest post was written by Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®, CVPOTM of Oh, So Organized.

One of my favorite things to do is walk along the lovely path next to the Hudson River. Especially in the summer, the area is filled with people jogging, conversing, reading, picnicking, bicycling, kite flying, fishing, and dog walking. On one recent walk, I noticed a man at the river’s edge playing fetch with his four-legged friend. It was such a joyful sight that I stopped to watch as the pup hyper-focused on the stick, waiting for his person to throw it into the water.

The pooch’s intense gaze and motivation as he anticipated the branch being released were clearly visible. He dove enthusiastically into the water to retrieve it. The game continued. Repeatedly, the dog waited, focused, swam, and fetched. I’m not sure who was having more fun- the dog, his person, or me.

My mouth ached from smiling so much. Finally, I pulled myself away and continued walking. Here’s the thing, though. What I saw connected some thoughts about motivation. When the goal is clear, motivation becomes almost effortless. And the more straightforward and well defined the goal is, the more accessible motivation will be.

Think about the stick-fetching example. The pup had one clear goal- retrieve the stick. Nothing else mattered. Birds, fish, other people, or dogs didn’t distract him. Talk about hyper-focus! His mission was to get and return the stick to his friend- over and over again. The pup’s motivation was apparent with his singular focus on getting the stick!

A Motivation Lesson

Have you struggled with motivation? At times, have you found it challenging to activate?

This happens for many reasons, including:

  • Having too many goals
  • Having a lack of clarity around your purpose
  • Feeling conflicted with competing priorities
  • Being overwhelmed by too many steps
  • Feeling unsure of where to begin
  • Being unclear about what to do next
  • Lacking information needed to continue
  • Being exhausted
  • Lacking confidence

Recommended Reading: The Best of the Best Habits of Highly Effective Organizers

Motivation Lesson

The next time you’re struggling with motivation, think about the stick-fetching story. How can you simplify your goal, and reduce it to that one thing? After you clarify the goal, your motivation will quickly bubble up from within and propel you forward. If you feel challenged by getting organized, planning your next vacation, or hosting a big event, get clearer. Think simply. Break that big thing into a tiny, more manageable goal. Observe what happens.

What helps you unleash your motivation?

Author Bio:

Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®, CVPOTM,is a compassionate, enthusiastic Professional Organizer, Coach, founder of Oh, So Organized! (1993) and author of The Other Side of Organized. In addition to virtual organizing, Linda presents seminars, writes articles, blogs, and mentors other Professional Organizers. She has been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Woman’s Day, and Westchester Magazine. She is a frequent guest on Smead’s “Keeping You Organized” podcast series. Linda lives 30 miles north of New York City in the Hudson Valley between two rivers with her husband, Steve. They are empty-nesters as their two daughters are out in the world, building their post-college lives. Linda enjoys watching the seasons change from their small, colorful home in the woods with a purple front door.


Motivation Lesson

Comments 12

  1. Ronni- I love your choice of photos and videos to accompany this post. Thank you so much for inviting me to guest write for your amazing blog. It’s an honor to be included.

  2. I love both this lesson and the lady who provided it! It is powerful and easy to relate to. Simplify, focus, bring it in to one thing. Let yourself get excited, and be fully present in the moment. Don’t worry about what you are not doing. Embrace it, and go for it- awesome!

    1. I just love how this is written, Seana. I think the most important thing you mentioned above is don’t worry about what you are not doing. It’s always more productive to focus on what we are doing and on the positive, not the other way around.

    1. Oh Janet, you’ve got that right! Dogs are amazing. I’ve had many. They’ve each been precious companions and each one was/is different.

  3. Focus is essential for accomplishing a goal. But, as a woman, I tend to do several things at once. So, doing one smaller task at a time helps me get one job done quickly. After putting my mind at ease and knowing that one task needs to be done, it is pretty easy for me to get it done and move on. A little coffee also helps me stay focused, though sugar does have the opposite effect. Try seeing if you are more focused after you eat a sweet or drink coffee. People with intolerances like gluten or dairy may have more issues focusing and getting motivated, especially after they consume these items.

    1. I agree that being able to focus is so important. I find it most challenging when I’m on my phone working or reading and messages, announcements and updates come through. What works best for me is to consciously ignore the distraction and stay consistent. It’s not always easy.

  4. A simple, powerful lesson! I struggled with decision fatigue for a long time until I started to simplify and get clear with one goal at a time. Sound advice here, thank you!

    1. I’ve always found that breaking anything down into smaller manageable parts and working on a part of the project at a time is the way to go.

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