“How brain cancer motivated me to create and experience the life I envision.”
(step 8 of my 8-step plan to get you back on track towards pursuing the life you envision despite a cancer diagnosis or other major life-altering event).
STEP 8 Part I:
Ten tiny words have always governed my life: “If it is to be, it is up to me.” Living up to the expectation of this mantra requires a certain (read: high) level of intrinsic motivation, resolve, commitment to SELF, and mental toughness (being generally stubborn doesn’t hurt either; as a Taurus, I was born with a decidedly bullish advantage in this department).
In the words of renowned motivational speaker and author Simon Sinek, it “Start(s) With Why.” Thanks to Simon, the “Why” has become a buzz word in the self-help and professional development industry in recent years, and it refers to your deepest underlying reason or reasons for doing whatever it is that you do. In my particular case, the “Why” that drives my own intrinsic motivation is my vision for my life that I stated in “That Fateful Day in June” (https://becomepowerful.com/2017/12/15/fateful-day-june/): “My vision for my life is to build a HAPPY and HEALTHY home and family together with my wife Ashley, and to have many fun and fulfilling adventures and experiences around the world with her.” My two main purposes in life that I outlined in “A Moment of Clarity” (https://becomepowerful.com/2018/01/26/a-moment-of-clarity/) also serve as “Whys” that fuel my intrinsic motivation: (1.) to be the best husband, teammate, and life partner that I can possibly be to Ashley; and (2.) to motivate and inspire others who may have received a cancer diagnosis or experienced some other major life-altering event.
To be perfectly honest, I have NO idea how to teach you how to suddenly become intrinsically motivated to do anything. Sometimes you choose the motivating force yourself (like when I chose to ask Ashley to marry me back on Halloween of 2009), and other times the motivating force chooses you (like when I was handed a brain cancer diagnosis in July of 2015). I can tell you definitively that wanting not to be separated from (or in a world without) Ashley is an extremely powerful intrinsic motivator for me, as is WANTING NOT TO DIE from brain cancer because dying would separate me from Ashley permanently – a scenario that is wholly incongruent with my vision for my life. Therefore, in order for me to create and experience the life I envision for myself and fulfill my purposes in life, I first and foremost need to STAY ALIVE. Well, DUH!! (Thanks, Captain Obvious!) Being aware of and fully accepting this simple concept, owning it, and keeping it at the forefront of your consciousness in the face of a life-threatening disease such as brain cancer, makes for an incredibly powerful intrinsic motivator.
WHY do I choose to do things to preserve and potentially extend my life (i.e., why do I try so hard NOT to die)? Improving and maintaining one’s level of physical fitness and overall health and wellness should generally be a no-brainer (too soon?), and that was a major motivational force that drove me to want to train for and complete the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run, even though I was still in the middle of daily oral chemotherapy treatment and enduring all of its concomitant side effects (among them were nausea, constipation, and general fatigue). I surmised that all of the crazy endurance and strength training would only bolster my body to aid in my ongoing fight against brain cancer, and as a bonus I would knock out one of my big life goals: to complete a 100 mile ultramarathon. Coincidentally, the insane amount of training that I was about to undertake would also be timed perfectly to help me prepare both physically and mentally for another big life goal that Ashley and I were scheduled to tackle just a few months later in July: hiking/climbing to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa (https://becomepowerful.com/2018/04/02/nobody-is-guaranteed-tomorrow/)