National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Ready, Willing, Able — and Unmotivated

Dave Durand offers Catholic advice on the working life.


October 1-7, 2006 Issue | Posted 9/27/06 at 11:00 AM


I hate to admit this, but I lack motivation. I am in sales and I know I would sell more if I worked harder. I am the sole breadwinner, providing for my wife and four children. How can I increase my drive?

At some point we all face problems with motivation. The fact that you acknowledge the “character flaw,” as you put it, tells me that you know you are not living up to the potential that God gave you. I believe your admittance will aid in the solution.

Effective motivational strategies include both offense and defense. There are things that you can do to increase your motivation and there are things you can do to maintain it.

From a defensive perspective, motivated people live balanced lives. Balance keeps them focused on what truly matters and provides them with clarity. The six “balance points” in their lives are their faith, family, physical health, finances, education/vocation and social contributions. They pay attention to each of these responsibilities on a daily basis.

Motivated people manage their responsibilities like a circus performer spins plates on  a stick: The inadequately spun plates will fall. Likewise, your inadequately attended balance points. Then, when one falls, you need to run over, pick up the pieces and glue it back together. While you are doing that, the other plates will begin to wobble and fall, which can start a domino effect.

So, good motivational defense is about keeping order in your life to minimize unnecessary stress, which leads to anxiety and demotivation. Once all your plates are spinning, you can turn to playing offense.

To play effective motivational offense, you must know what it is you are trying to accomplish. This means you must set clear goals with deadlines and track your progress. If your goals are meaningful to you, the goals themselves will inspire you. Set prudent but challenging goals. They must be exciting enough to get you out of bed each day.

Break your goals down so that you can measure your progress daily. This will enable you to make adjustments to your upcoming days if you are behind. If you are ahead of your goals, you can either take your performance to the next level or enjoy a break.

Remember that everything you do, you should do for Christ. Before work every day, offer your efforts to him. At the end of the work day, reflect on what you offered. Was your offering more like Cain’s or Abel’s? Sanctify your soul by doing things you know you must do even when — no, especially when — you don’t feel like doing them. Offer these acts of love as prayers for your family. If you do, you will provide much more than income to your loved ones.

Catholic business trainer

and motivational speaker

Dave Durand is online at