What I've Learned in a World of Motivational Choose-Your-Own-Adventures

When I wake up in the morning, I roll over, grab my phone and turn on a motivational video on YouTube. This generally gets me out of bed before I change my mind and attempt to sleep another 23 minutes.


I’ve been doing this for the past couple of months and it has benefited me in quite a few ways: I start off the day with a heart of gratitude. I remember that I need to be a better version of myself in order to achieve the dreams I have – and the choices I make throughout the day will determine if I am that better version, or the old version that flim-flams through life. The videos remind me to stay focused, stay the course, that people who learn to persevere must go through difficult situations. It gets me in the right frame of mind each day.


And then there are times where I just need a good laugh at all the seriousness and have fun overthinking every contradiction I come across.


Instruction: For example, I have heard videos where I am instructed to wake up and immediately 1) smile 2) say 10 things I am grateful for; 3) Tell myself I’m going to have a good day; 4) Speak what I want to come to fruition as though it has happened; 5) Say out loud I love myself while staring in the mirror….and I realize that the second I wake up I will be jabbering to myself for a good 5 minutes while grinning like a lunatic.


Contradiction: Then of course there’s the instruction that I should 1) take 10 minutes to clear my mind; 2) envision my perfect day; 3) sit silently in meditation or prayer at the start of my day.


Be silent, talk aloud, be silent, talk aloud. I’m already exhausted. Perhaps I’ll go back to sleep.


Ooo, let’s do another one.

Instruction: You have to work hard, so hard, to get to where you want to be. Put in all the hours at work. Outwork your competition. Don’t stop when you’re tired, push through and it’ll make you stronger. To gain much, you must sacrifice much.


Contradiction: Why are you working so hard? Make your business work for you! If you are hustling and working more hours than a normal job, then you’re doing it wrong. Work smarter, not harder.


How do you make sense of that? When you hear these two sides, which one do you believe? Which one do you follow? What is the consequence of choosing the wrong instruction?


More examples.


Instruction: You must put your dreams above everything else in order to reach them.


Contradiction: Don’t forget your “why”, don’t let your work or your business come between your family and friends.


Ok, then which is it?? So, I choose family and friends and I lose out on my dreams? Or accomplish my dreams where it will be devastatingly lonely because friends and family no longer wish to be around me? That is a terrible choice! No win here!


Instruction: Passion is all you need to succeed


Contradiction: Your passion will not sustain you alone, you must be willing to put in the work.


O-Okay, yeah. But what if I don’t have enough passion, will my work ethic keep things afloat? What if my passion moves me emotionally, but not enough to get me to move forward on what I need to do? Where do I fall then?


Instruction: You deserve every good thing.


Contradiction: You will fail.


These motivational videos can really teeter from one side of the spectrum where you pump yourself up to work harder, and the other side of the seesaw where you need to brace yourself for the great fall because all great people fail. There’s a fine line of confidence/ego/humility that people jump back and forth in. Where should the small business owner land in those lines in order to promote success?


With all these possible directions I can go with my mindset, I will still roll out of bed and put on a motivational video to listen to while I get up the morning. Mindsets truly are our largest weapon in our daily arsenal, and it can make or break the day. Might as well start it off with a little motivation….and a chuckle.


Which business-related instruction/contradiction do you have a hard time navigating through?



Cathy Baillargeon is a Senior Consultant at Salsbury & Co, a local business consulting firm. She also owns Cathy LLC, a virtual assisting company who supports business owners nationally. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two teenagers on their farm in Vancouver, WA and writing for NYAM in her spare time.


Photo by Emma Matthews on Unsplash

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