Paige Doster-Grimes

Reflections and Ramblings from North Carolina


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Favorite Passages from 2016

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Mary Oliver – always a favorite.

“Off again, on again” is an accurate descriptor for my relationship with reading. My hours spent with a book in hand have ebbed and flowed over the years. Like many people (I suspect), my reading binges tend to cluster around long journeys. Crime and Punishment was consumed over the course of two appropriately turbulent cross-country flights. I tore though half of Tony Hillerman’s collection during the long bus rides of my study abroad experience. The fifth Harry Potter was devoured from the backseat of a rental car weaving up the California coast on Route 1. Yes – it made me carsick. No – that didn’t keep me from finishing.

When I haven’t read anything in a while, my desire to read is dormant and the energy flows into other pursuits… if you can call watching TV a “pursuit.” But shortly after I’ve cracked the spine on a new read, I’ll find myself returning from the library with another handful of titles in tow.

Since this past year has been more of a “flow” year, I thought I’d look through some of my Kindle highlights to share some favorite passages. Here is what I found…

Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk was a slow read, a memoir of a seasoned falconer training the notoriously difficult goshawk following her father’s death. I found it mostly meditative although some friends felt it was too much of a slog. Macdonald’s reflections following her loss – and particularly the passages on the non-linearity of grief and the disorientation of depression – nevertheless put words to experience in ways I never could:

“Time didn’t run forwards anymore. It was a solid thing you could press yourself against and feel it push back; a thick fluid, half-air, half-glass, that flowed both ways and sent ripples of recollection forwards and new events backwards so that the new things I encountered, then, seemed souvenirs from the distant past.”

Like Macdonald, philosopher Alain de Botton is usually a nonfiction writer. While The Course of Love is his second novel, the characters serve primarily as a medium for de Botton (in the role of narrator) to expound upon his ideas of romantic love. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, but perhaps it’s better described as a salve for the soul rather than a work of philosophical insights or fictional intrigue. This quote nicely distilled one of the de Botton’s key messages and captures the refreshing honesty found throughout the book:

“ … love can only endure when one is unfaithful to its beguiling opening ambitions, and that, for relationships to work, [we] will need to give up on the feelings that got [us] into them in the first place. [We] will need to learn that love is a skill rather than an enthusiasm.”

From romantic love to sibling affection, this next passage is from Courtney Hodell’s chapter in Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed in which she lovingly describes her brother. Honestly, I highlighted this piece aspirationally. Perhaps with practice someone might one day write something as beautiful and flattering of me.

“An atmosphere of calm hangs around about him like a cloud cap on a green mountain. Everyone in need of balm seeks him out: the anxious and the shy, little kids, old people. He’s one of the secret, mighty soothers and nurturers of this world.”

You can’t tell me after reading that you don’t want to be as calm as a cloud cap, or become a mighty soother.

Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts is so complex and thought-provoking it is difficult to pull quotes from. A memoir, this book explores her experience of having a gender-fluid partner undergoing transition, becoming a mother, being a teacher and writer, and much more. Any one line or paragraph is so enhanced by the context of her story that it seems a disservice to share bits of it piecemeal. Even so, this passage – following a conversation in which Nelson and her partner are arguing over the merits of an action film – seemed so very fitting in our fractured society today:

“We bantered good-naturedly, yet somehow allowed ourselves to get polarized into a needless binary. That’s what we both hate about fiction, or at least crappy fiction – it purports to provide occasions for thinking through complex issues, but really it has predetermined the positions, stuffed a narrative full of false choices, and hooked you on them, rendering you less able to see out, to get out.

When we talked we said words like nonviolence, assimilation, threats to survival, preserving the radical. But when I think about it now I only hear the background buzz of our trying to explain something to each other, to ourselves, about our lived experience thus far on this peeled, endangered planet. As is so often the case, the intensity of our need to be understood distorted our positions, backed us further into the cage.”

Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air is a haunting and beautiful memoir chronicling his terminal cancer diagnosis and struggle to find his meaning in a life that was supposed to be just beginning (he was finally finishing his residency as a neurosurgeon). My digital copy of this book is littered with highlights. I thought this quote in particular, though, was a fitting accompaniment to Nelson’s perspective above. It’s worth noting that Kalanithi’s first love was not science, but writing:

“Literature not only illuminated another’s experience, it provided, I believed, the richest material for moral reflection. My brief forays into the formal ethics of analytic philosophy felt dry as a bone, missing the messiness and weight of real human life.”

And finally, one more quote from When Breath Becomes Air:

“I had come to see language as an almost supernatural force, existing between people bringing our brains, shielded in centimeter-thick skulls, into communion. A word meant something only between people, and life’s meaning, its virtue, had something to do with the depth of the relationships we form.”

Who could argue with Paul’s assertion? If language is the way to communion with one another, then surely using our voice and truly listening to the voice of others is one of the best hopes we have for achieving understanding and shattering the facades that only ever appear to separate us. That’s what is so exciting about reading to me. The written word has given us an endless well of understanding to pull from and use to strengthen the relationships we build our lives around.

I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading and what your favorite quotes from the year were, too. And if you’re on Goodreads, I hope you’ll friend me so I can check out your recommendations.


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What I’ve Learned from my Facebook Hiatus

4c35dfc9dedc5f5e453e68c6170ddd82A month or two ago I decided it was time for a Facebook hiatus. If you have a reasonable amount of self-control, the idea of having to delete a social media profile just to spend less time on that platform probably sounds pathetic. My husband, for example, has no problem using his Facebook account for just the periodic check-in and nothing more – it’s one of the many reasons he’s my better half. But for those of you out there who have trouble resisting the heavy pull of a Facebook (or Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat…) wormhole, this post is for you.

This is not my first time bidding Facebook ado; I’ve suspended my account on 3 previous occasions. One thing I’ve noticed in my many departures from The Book is how much more difficult it is to suspend your account nowadays. When you find the page to remove your account, they ask you why you’re leaving. Every one of the options (for example, “I get too many notifications from Facebook”) has a solution for you that doesn’t involve closing your account (“Don’t leave Facebook – just edit your notification preferences!”). This is, of course, a great way to keep people engaged in your product… even if the subtext reads a bit like, “You don’t know what’s best for you – we do!”

What really jumped out to me, though, is that when I selected my reason for leaving this time – “This is temporary, I’ll be back” – it prompted me to pick a date that my account would automatically reactivate. Facebook, quit being so codependent – it’s not a good look on you.

Now that I’ve been logged off for a while, I thought I’d share a few observations:

It’s freeing! Ever accidentally leave your phone at home, panic, and then get a little rush like you’re on the lam? Suddenly you’re paying more attention to the things around you and you feel untethered by being incommunicado. Jumping off social media can be a little like that.

Sending a thoughtful note or giving a friend a call becomes more appealing. When you’re keeping up with someone else via Facebook, it’s easy to go for long periods of time without personally connecting. After all, it seems like you know what’s happening in their life – you could name every meal they ate on their recent weekend getaway to Atlantic City! But there’s no replacement for time spent sharing ideas and memories directly with others, and hopping off of Facebook quickly makes you realize how long it has been since you last spent quality time with certain friends or relatives.

You naturally spend less time comparing yourself to others. Facebook is a great tool for highlighting our best photos, proudest achievements, and portraying just the parts of life we want others to see. It can be really fun to see what our old classmates or childhood friends are up to. But on the flip side, getting a curated peak into the lives of people we don’t really know anymore can be deceiving and create the prime conditions for unhealthy comparisons.

It can be kind of lonely. Facebook is wildly successful in part because it replicates and magnifies what we as social creatures are hardwired to do – see ourselves as part of different communal circles and seek affirmation of our place in the Venn diagram of our unique tribes. It’s not surprising that Facebook became such a festering pool of vitriol during the election. What better place to proclaim to the world what your values are, see who has your back, revel in the “likes” that validate your position, and triumphantly dismiss the haters that are wrong?

We’ve evolved to seek the validation of our peers – it’s a long-held survival mechanism since we’d never last as a lone-wolf species. That’s why it feels so good to be validated by our peers, and Facebook makes it easy to get that hit of dopamine when people like our post or write supportive and flattering comments on our latest pictures. Cutting the social media cord does mean letting go of one of our main sources of positive social feedback. And that can be kind of lonely and take some getting used to.

It’s a great reminder that opting out is an option. Facebook is so ubiquitous now that everyone assumes you have an account. And most of us do. But we certainly don’t have to. It’s not unlike many other things people might assume about us… or we might even assume about ourselves. Things like: I wish to be married and have children. I belong to a major recognized religion. I work a standard 9-5 job. I own a house or desire to own a house. I have to shave my legs (or face) or wear my hair long (or short).

These are can be fine ideals, but they are certainly not universal. If we don’t take time to think about what we really want out of life and what we believe, it’s easy to be swept up in what others expect or do without stopping to make conscious and intentional decisions for ourselves.

I think that’s actually the best thing to come out of my hiatus. I recognize now that I had no idea why I was hopping on Facebook every day. It was a decade-long habit, but aside from that I didn’t really think much about what I was getting out of it and if it was worthwhile to me or not. Opting out – even temporarily – gives us the space to consider if a behavior is enriching our lives or detracting from other life-enriching endeavors.

For me, for now, I’m happier being off of Facebook. And I’m glad for this particular hiatus as it’s inspired me to try taking a break from some other activities, too. Just not Instagram 🙂


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Happy New Year!

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It’s that time again… time for New Year’s resolutions! I used to be very cynical about the resolution frenzy. “If it were so important to you,” I’d decry, “you shouldn’t wait around for some arbitrary day to implement that change!” Oh, what an annoying twit I was.

But as time and life progress, I think it’s fair to say our energy and resolve wear. We can all use an extra push – however “arbitrary” – to make positive changes in our lives. Whatever gives you a feeling of empowerment should be welcomed with open arms – if nothing else, the placebo effect is real.

Need a sage burning ritual before you’re ready to eat a little healthier? Light it up! Convinced you must buy a new planner and fill it with a detailed workout plan before you can hit the gym? Jot away! Find strength in charging some crystals/reading the Bible/quoting the Koran/power posing/meditating on the nothingness of life? Dive on in and let your vessel be filled with universal goodness so you can make it another day.

2016 was a big year of transition for us. Lots of good change, but the life-altering variety that also makes you think you might be losing your mind. Here’s what we have been up to over the past 365 days:

  • Jesse and I quit our jobs (without a plan for new employment)
  • We moved from DC to Virginia to North Carolina (3 moves in 4 months! We didn’t even break anything!)
  • We bought a house
  • We worked at essentially 3 different jobs, each
  • We said goodbye to my Gram and our sweet nephew-dog Bear
  • We welcomed 2 new human nephews into our family
  • We traded one car for two and a walking life in the city for driving in suburbia (What is life, if not a series of trade-offs?! But really, someone please bring me a vegan milkshake cause they don’t exist down here)

I’m not going so far as to make firm resolutions for the new year. Those usually sound like “Eat less ice cream” or “Wake up without hitting the snooze button” and I couldn’t be less interested in either. (Let the record show that after typing that sentence I got up for ice cream).

But I have been thinking about what I want to do more of in 2017, which I guess is just as much a resolution as cutting things out. I hope to write more, do more exploring in our new home state, take action to create a more just world, and stay curious and positive when it’s more tempting to become defensive and cynical. I better go charge up my crystals, though, cause we all know making progress that lasts beyond January 15th requires dedication.

So, I hope you choose to stack the cards in your favor this year by practicing whatever rituals, exercises, or strategies speak to your soul. To heck with anyone who tells you otherwise – your prayers/mantras/accountability partners/vision boards/habit-forming apps/complicated list-making systems/new year’s resolutions will work if you think they do. They’re all ways to reinforce what we know is true – that we are capable of incredible things if we keep on working at it. May you find motivation wherever you can in 2017. And if all else fails, there’s always 2018.


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Reviews as Haikus

best-haiku-ever1-300x165Later this week I’ll be attending the North Carolina Nonprofit Conference and I’m looking forward to sharing what I learn! In the meantime, I was searching for a way to stretch my creativity muscles and decided to write some reviews of things I’ve tried out lately… as haikus.

Being limited to 17 syllables forces you to cut to the chase – good for a quick yay-or-nay ruling. But if you want to try and insert a little personality into the poem, you have to work for it. Honestly, it’s a fun exercise and an easy mental warm-up to get the juices flowing. Here’s what I came up with – if you have a review haiku to share I’d love to hear it! Have other writing exercises you like?  I’d love to hear those too!

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Terro Liquid Ant Baits

Marching two by two

Then droves… trickles… solitude.

Am I still vegan?

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Dave’s Killer Bread

I won’t buy any

inferior loaf. Killer

bread yields killer toast.

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Hayes La-Z-Boy Sofa

Marshmallow soft but

less sticky… I can’t get up…

Redact second line.

mr-holmes

Mr. Holmes Movie

Sloth-like pacing: yes

Story’s moral: refreshing

… When’s Sherlock return?

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SO Bright Peanut Dog Treats

HomeGoods clearance shelf

Flanked by off-season candles

My dog gives five stars

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Selling Limoncello

imagesThis week I sold a piece of my heart. Specifically, the piece that is yellow and shaped liked a 2-door hatchback. It wasn’t my idea. In fact, I’d been engaged in active and passionate defense against the coup on my coupe for a good six months. But my husband’s strategic and persistent assault on my sweet ride began to wear on my resolve, and I finally gave in.

To understand how it got to this point, we have to go back to the beginning. Limoncello came into my life just after college. Between “cash for clunkers” and an already low-priced base model, I became the proud owner of a brand new Hyundai Accent. Her name was swiftly determined – a natural fit given her frosted yellow hue. Sure, she was missing what some might consider “basic features”, but who needs cruise control or vanity mirrors when you’ve got panache?

Her sunny tint always stood out in a sea of drab cars – an important characteristic when you frequently forget where you’ve parked. And her hatchback made moving even large items a breeze. This was especially critical as she saw me through 9 moves in the past 7 years. She braved un-garaged winters and countless feet of snow in New Hampshire and Boston, spent five years on the streets of DC, and bore witness to the mind-boggling amount of road kill that country living in North Carolina brings.

While selling my beloved car was a painful goodbye, it wasn’t the first time I had to accept her mortality.

A few years ago, Limoncello was among the items stolen when a house I shared with three other women was robbed. I can only imagine the glee the burglar felt when he spied the spare key sitting atop my bedroom dresser. Given the layout of the house, my room was likely the last one raided. After scoring four laptops and a pricy road bike (also mine – lest I should have any remaining transportation options), the keys must have been the icing on the cake. I wish I’d seen the look on his face when he activated the key fob, though, to discover that the car he’d be taking off in was the smallest, goofiest ride on the block.

Nevertheless, Limoncello went on a joy ride. When the police recovered her 48 hours later, she was only a little worse for wear – cigarette ashes and some dried blood smears were but temporary reminders of her kidnapping. Did I fail to mention that the robber cut himself on the window he broke to enter the house? He then proceeded to bleed on everything we owned, and Limoncello was not excluded from the primal marking of territory.

In the span of the 48 hours she was gone, I managed to accept that I might not ever see my little lemon again. It was a terrible couple of days for many reasons, but for the first time I had to see my car for what it was… a replaceable object that transported me from one location to another. Despite treating her as if she was another human character in my life, she was just a car. It was just a car.

Limoncello hadn’t actively protected me from that terrible snowstorm on New Year’s Eve in 2009 when it felt like I wasn’t really alone because I was with her. That was just a car being a hollow, mostly-impenetrable object. She wasn’t actually holding me close during the many miserable, crying phone calls I made from the car during a traumatic break-up. That was literally just the narrow seat digging into my frame. And she didn’t actually have the ability to make parking spots open up on the street if I asked nicely. That was probably just lucky timing.

I really had accepted all of this to be true… but then I got the call. She’d been found! It was a miracle! I quickly brushed away all my doubts and let go of the idea that she would ever be replaced. Limoncello had returned from the dead, fully anthropomorphized.

We would have another 4 blissful years together, Limoncello and I, my partner in adventure and errands. But our life-long union was not meant to be. Ever the pragmatist, my husband began to do some research when we moved to North Carolina. No longer living in the city, we drive more often now and for much longer distances. His concern was primarily for my safety, he said, and had nothing to do with his disdain for driving around in an emasculating toy car. To his credit, vanity mirrors aren’t the only features that 2009 Hyundai Accents are lacking… so are decent safety ratings.

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Maverick riding shotgun.

When the opportunity arose to purchase a relative’s fancy sedan for a steal, we took it. I admitted it was time. Limoncello had been good to me, but Jesse would feel better if I was driving something safe and sturdy, and I would feel better if he stopped bugging me about buying a new car. So, off to CarMax we went for our final ride together.

When it was time for the appraisal, I chatted nervously with the car expert. I needed him to know this wasn’t just any ol’ car. I tried to act cool, but I was saying goodbye to one of the only remaining elements of my life that had been a constant over the past 7 years. She had seen me through a lot. Her bright sunny color symbolized the optimism I felt when I began my adult life. Now, it symbolized my desire to remain positive even though life has dealt some curve balls and my open optimism has been traded for something more like cautious hopefulness. Her small and agile frame had fit my independent personality and singular driving needs for many years. Now, her size had become an impediment to the needs of two tall humans, a dog, and their many accouterments.

So maybe this post isn’t really an ode to my car, but about recognizing that moments like selling a car force us to confront our own reality. That we’re not as young as we once were. That we’ve changed. That we’re human and insecure in our own unique ways and we look to objects for affirmation.

When I got the $4,000 check from CarMax, it did soften the blow. I guess you could put a price tag on Limoncello after all. Or maybe I’d finally accepted that I was selling a car, I wasn’t losing all the memories and change that car represented, no matter how fond or profound they were.


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A Few Thoughts on Grief

Gram

A favorite photo of this beautiful lady.

Yesterday I lost my grandmother. Truly, this world lost her, but the experience of grief has a way of being frustratingly singular. I wish I understood how my father experienced his loss, or my aunt – her devoted caretaker for so many years. But all I can know is my own loss. It’s isolating. Even when loss is shared, it is only ever ours.

We knew it was coming, which changes the grief, but I’m not sure whether it makes it easier or not. A few weeks ago we thought she had reached the end and I grieved for the loss I anticipated – for the loss I had started to feel with the ebb and flow of her memory. But then she fought with a tenacity we all should have expected. When she did pass it was like reopening a wound… one I thought had healed, but when I picked the scab the flesh bled anew.

There are so many things I’ll miss about my Gram. She was quiet and sincere, but with a wry sense of humor you might miss if you weren’t really listening. A seemingly offhanded comment could have my aunt and I laughing for days afterward. She was sincere and truthful, but with a fierce independence. If you doubted her, or tried to tell her what to do, she’d defy you just to prove you wrong. I think my husband might note some similarities in the bloodline. Even when the hospice nurse said she only had a few hours left – or a couple of days at most – Gram couldn’t let someone else dictate that… and she gave us two and a half more months of her company.

When I was young, Gram would make hundreds of springerle cookies each year – a traditional sweet of her native Germany – and send a tin to our house at Christmastime. I LOVED when the springerle cookies arrived. Their tough outer crust and strong anise flavor meant not everyone liked them, but I could eat them by the handful on the couch while our mutt, Mitzie, lapped up the crumbs. Selfishly, I reveled in the fact that few people wanted to eat them. It became a special thing my Gram, Dad and I had in common, and it made me feel closer to her despite the miles. On a side note – if you are vegan and have fond memories of springerle cookies (just me?), these almond anise cookies will bring back the taste of your childhood. I feel Gram would appreciate this PSA as she had a sweet tooth as well and always wanted to be sure we had plenty to eat.

Gram was a great listener. Her quiet, unassuming nature invited it. That’s part of why I enjoyed writing letters to her so much. I could open up and reflect about my life and she would respond with a spot-on observation or perspective that I’d never considered. I don’t think she ever realized how much our letters meant to me. It wasn’t an act of charity – it was a lifeline for me.

The Girls

The girls in Vegas.

She also loved animals and treated her Vegas-based grandkitties and grandbirds with much admiration. I wish she had the chance to meet Maverick, though I fear his enthusiastic greeting ritual (jumping on you with his talon-embedded paws for five minutes straight) may have been too much for Gram’s aging body. Instead, she’d ask about him and all the other family canines when we talked on the phone.

I wish I knew more about my Gram… a woman who navigated the latter third of her life solo after her husband passed… who brought five children into this world and had to say goodbye to one much too early… who left Germany as a child but never in spirit. The instant I can’t ask her any more questions is when they all come flooding to mind.

Right now the only question that seems to matter is, “What are we supposed to do without you, Gram?” I miss you so much already and my heart is heavy. I hope it’s ok if I still write to you.


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Motivation, Two Ways

82126956Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Washington Nonprofit Conference. While there were countless takeaways from the conference and many great speakers, there is one quote that keeps playing on repeat in my head; “Your donor can’t write a check while they’re applauding”.

This adage has me thinking a lot about what motivates us: in both fundraising – and in life.

First, let me take a step back to explain the fundraising context. The speaker of these words was Tom Gaffny of Tom Gaffny Consulting – a long-time fundraising professional and a fantastic speaker. In this particular session Tom was speaking about the importance of “the offer” in fundraising: how are you asking for a donor’s contribution and what are you offering them in return?

He went on to explain that in countless tests he’s found that focusing on the need (People are hungry. Animals are homeless. Children are suffering.) rather than your own success (We fed people! We housed animals! We saved children!) motivates more donors and raises more money. Hence his pithy and wonderfully visual observation: “Your donor can’t write a check while they’re applauding [your success]”.

I’ve found this to be equally true for the organizations I work with. Our testing over the years has shown that focusing on the need and what has to be done is more effective than focusing on what has been done. Donors want to take action themselves to solve a problem – not donate because you did something.

It’s the same reason why special anniversary logos tend to suppress results. Donors typically don’t care that your organization is celebrating its 25th anniversary. That doesn’t have anything to do with them. On the other hand, acknowledging when a donor has a giving anniversary themselves (such as “Joe Smith, you’ve been saving animals from the streets for 5 years!”) is much more motivating. It speaks to what the donor has done and makes them feel great and want to do more.

So, what’s the application of this idea outside of fundraising?

I think Tom’s maxim gets at a central truth: we need to listen to what motivates others and accept that it might not be what we expected or wanted to hear. This goes for pretty much any aspect of our lives where we interact with others… and even ourselves. Here are a few examples.

If we want to motivate our employees, that means listening to them and realizing that what motivates them may be different than what motivates us.

For example, I’m motivated to double-check the accuracy of my work because I know that mistakes could ultimately cost money. This is because I manage a budget and costs are critically important in my role. But for someone I supervise, the financial cost may not be that motivating. I could make a perfectly reasonable argument about why the financial cost should be motivating to my supervisees… but at the end of the day they may find their main motivation for double-checking their work is so they don’t have to spend more time fixing mistakes later. That makes total sense, and once I understand that I can encourage them to complete their work error-free in a way that resonates with them.

If we want to help our partner achieve their goals, we can be better cheerleaders if we’re in tune with what their motivations are rather than assuming we know.

For example, if our partner expresses that they want to start exercising more often, we might assume it’s because they want to look fit for us – how sweet! We might make comments that we think are encouraging about how good they’re starting to look or how soon they won’t be carrying around those few extra pounds. But if their motivation to work out is because they are concerned about their heart health, our comments may not have the intended effect and some could even be perceived as un-motivating (“She only seems to care about how I look, not about how I feel. What’s the point?”). By asking questions and understanding what motivates our partner, we can be better cheerleaders and encourage them to achieve their goals more effectively.

If we’re struggling with a challenge personally and feel stuck, we need to get clear with ourselves about our own motivations.

For example, if you’re trying to develop a new habit – such as reading more – but can’t seem to make it happen, have a frank conversation with yourself about what your motivation is. Is it because other people in your office are always talking about what they’re reading? Or is it something you want to do for your own personal enjoyment but can’t find the time?

Whatever the answer, you can use that information to jumpstart yourself into action, and not waste time on strategies for motivating yourself that won’t work. For example, if you want to read more to keep pace with well-read colleagues, enlisting an accountability partner or challenging a friend to see who can read more industry articles in a month may be a good method for making it happen. If you want to read more for pleasure, something as formal as an accountability buddy may be stressful and un-motivating. Instead you might consider sticking a post-it on your remote control that says, “How about reading instead?” or making a date with yourself at a coffee shop you like once a week to enjoy a few chapters. You get the idea – once we’re clear on our own motivations we can better encourage ourselves when we’re struggling to complete a task or master a new habit.

I hope some of these thoughts about motivation are helpful to you.

What motivates others may not always be what we want to hear – like if an appeal about our organization’s success doesn’t motivate our donors to give, or finding out our spouse doesn’t want to sculpt a six-pack just to look good in a swimsuit. But if we ask the right questions and are willing to listen, we can benefit from learning what does motivate them – such as a fundraising appeal that clearly communicates an urgent need and raises buckets of money, or realizing that our spouse only cares about exercising so they can be around to love us for many years to come.