Motivation Has A Color: Pink

I don’t have a fiction piece ready this week- but I have two stories in process, so I’ll definitely have one posted next week. Instead of rushing fiction, I decided to write about something I’ve been thinking about for several weeks: motivation.

Motivation is one of those human mind things that fascinate me. There are times when the prospect of success is enough to get us moving. In other instances, external factors give us a kick-start (like when a toddler is offered a reward for using the toilet.) I tend to think that internal motivation is stronger than motivation by reward… then again, some kind of motivation is better than none at all.

For instance, I would love to see my older son do his chores- and do them right- because of a sense of pride in a job well done. It would also be kind of cool to see pigs (or javelina) fly.

We’ve tried motivation in the form of allowance, or rather no allowance when chores aren’t done, with little success. Quite by accident, we found what does motivate him.

The events leading to this serendipitous discovery:

When my older son was nine, he drove us nuts begging for a cell phone. Finally, I said, “Don’t even bother asking again until you’re twelve.” That bought me a few years of peace, but then it happened: he turned twelve.  Somehow, his mind interpreted my statement as, “You’ll get a cell phone when you’re twelve.”

The nagging commenced several weeks before his twelfth birthday.  We made it clear: no chores, no possibility of a cell phone. He showed a little more initiative in doing his work. His own mistake led us to the biggest motivating factor. When he accidentally ruined the flip phone that we share between the kids, we activated the other spare phone we had on hand:

This is what motivation looks like to a 12-year-old boy!
This is what motivation looks like to a 12-year-old boy!

A pink phone… brilliant. Man, I wish I’d thought of that on my own!

While my younger son doesn’t seem bothered by the pink phone, my older son refuses to use it… even if it means extra waiting when his school activities end earlier than expected. He wants an iPhone. I smile and remind him, “You know how to make it happen.”

Discovering what motivates my son made me turn to my own (lack of) motivation. For several months, longer writing projects have been in a holding pattern. Rather than writing, I found myself playing mindless/addictive games on my phone, or watching Forensic Files marathons on TV. It seemed procrastination had won. But then through comments on my last fiction piece, I realized some things about why I’d stalled on writing.

Offers of guidance and assistance with my longer work gave me the extra nudge I needed. I’ve dusted off the rough outline of a novel-length story I’d started last year. I can’t wait to feel the satisfaction again of knowing I can finish a story over 5,000 words!

Enter, hope (the light shining through the storm clouds)
Enter, hope (the light shining through the storm clouds)

That’s the motivation I needed.

What motivates you- personal satisfaction? Recognition? Curiosity?


36 thoughts on “Motivation Has A Color: Pink

  1. philosophermouseofthehedge September 4, 2014 / 6:29 AM

    Laughed so hard at the “But you promised a cell phone when I was 12” interpretation. Selective hearing lives. (funny how priorities differ between kids. Pink less important to one…age/peer age and personality?)
    You know how old cars sometimes had to change gears before going up a steep hill or grade – I sometimes think the human brain is like that – it has to gather itself before a looking task. The trick of course, is to keep going in that direction and not seek detours and roadside attractions to delay.
    Sounds like you’ve sifted gears successfully.
    (and be perfectly willing to just park a line or a single picture on the blog as a holding pattern while you focus on the grand trip in progress….you won’t feel guilty or any tug that will eat up time needed to be spent on the long heavy haul) Cheers and drive on!

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2014 / 1:05 AM

      Thanks for the support/encouragement, Phil! I’ll probably stick to my twice a week posting (it’s enough to feel like I haven’t totally abandoned everything.) I will have to put some limits on my reading time, though. I can spend hours at a time trying to keep up with that!

      My older son has forgotten that his favorite color in kindergarten was pink. I think it’s my younger son’s age that makes him okay with the phone.

      • philosophermouseofthehedge September 5, 2014 / 7:08 AM

        Reading is what eats up my time, too….but feel so guilty…must get over that….enjoy the weekend ( pinks and all)

  2. Leigh W. Smith September 4, 2014 / 7:42 AM

    Ah, kids and gratitude/motivation/chores. Don’t get me started on that! 🙂 Motivation is an interesting topic, and I think about it quite a bit, too, both in the family context and self context. Just this morning I was pondering why I wasn’t more ambitious in certain aspects of my life. It’s weird because there’s that laxity and the fact that, I feel, I didn’t grow up in a nurturing atmosphere where praise (for anyone) was common, and, so, I sometimes chide myself for being too bound to (ultimately meaningless) praise or accolades. I’m generally a decent motivator of myself for things I like to do, at the get-go of the project, anyway, but I don’t always have the staying power. Now, more importantly, back to you, I’m so glad to see you will be taking up the challenge of finishing your longer story. Can’t wait to see your novel published, Janna! Keep us in the loop.

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2014 / 1:45 AM

      I’m sorry to hear your childhood wasn’t as nurturing as it could’ve been, Leigh. I think the project difficulty and other priorities can affect how ambitious we are.

      Thanks for your encouraging words. I finished one novel years ago, so it’s been a bit frustrating that I haven’t done it again. I am looking forward to seeing this project through, as well 🙂

  3. vishalbheeroo September 4, 2014 / 8:11 AM

    Motivating can be a big high to go and make things happen. Imagine an Iphone for ur son and how excited he must be:)

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2014 / 1:47 AM

      Kids are funny, Vishal. All I’ve heard about for months is how he wanted an iPhone. Now, all of a sudden, he’s into Samsung Galaxy.

  4. suzicate September 4, 2014 / 8:50 AM

    Ha, just wait until he gets older. We motivated our kids with cars when they were of driving age. The deal was if they maintained a “B” average we paid for the car, and if they maintained a “C” average we only paid for half…anything less, no car, and they were required to keep up those grades or risk losing the car.(Both were more than capable as they were in gifted programs in elementary school and youngest even went to a magnet school, however they both lacked motivation.) Oldest tried but had a hard time with algebra and geometry, so he paid for half of his. It was amazing how much Youngest’s grades improved, and his car didn’t cost him anything! Good luck to both of you!

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2014 / 1:48 AM

      I like how you handled that, Suzicate! I think grades are important, so we included that stipulation in the contract we wrote out. It shouldn’t be an issue because his grades are great (but if our family history is an indication, something happens to the boys in our family around 8th grade where grades plummet 🙂 )

  5. Tim Weaver September 4, 2014 / 9:52 AM

    This is amusing. 🙂

    I decided to deactivate my Facebook account during the month of September, for two reasons: 1. I am on my first “more than a long weekend” vacation that doesn’t involve death, birth, marriage, graduation, holiday or any other familial obligation…in over 19 years. I didn’t want to waste it (2 weeks) by sitting in front of Facebook…which I could easily do for several hours a day. 2. For the second half of September, I wanted to see how much extra work I would do at my job if I cut out the excursions to FB while “at work” (I work from home). While I get my work done on time, I wonder how much more I could do…or what else I would / could do during the breaks I take during the day (walk on the treadmill, play with the dogs, whatever).

    I deactivated my account on Sunday night, around 11pm. About a week beforehand, I sent messages to all the people I might want to stay in contact with, letting them know how to reach me. Then I posted a similar message to my Facebook wall. So far, I’m in contact with only one, a guy at my gym who is a chef and had answers for me on how to make my own bacon, as well as being my “pusher” for getting pork bellies (since Fry’s doesn’t carry them and the closest real butcher is about 10 miles away).

    The first morning was the most difficult, as it was part of my morning routine. Past that, I have had other things I wanted to do…built a guitar (well, rewired the electronics…um…a couple times when I didn’t do it right or broke a part..LOL), photographed a portrait session, started working out again and playing with the dogs. I suppose I might even get some writing in, since I’ve not really done anything with that since 2013.

    The one I thing I do miss is the interaction I had with other photographers in Facebook groups. They were a real benefit when I was starting, and a real inspiration now that I sort of know what I’m doing. The question will be whether I can focus just on that, or if I get sucked back into the whole “read everything” actions.

    The most amusing thing: When I announced I was going to do this, I got MANY positive messages…leading me to wonder how many really wish they could do the same thing.

    Hope all is well.



    • jannatwrites September 5, 2014 / 1:52 AM

      Hey, good to hear from you, Tim! I’ve never had a Facebook account for the reasons you describe here. I spend enough time in the blog world, I fear if I entered the land of FB, I’d have no time for anything. I hope you find September fulfilling without the online tether! (And good for you for taking a real vacation!) It would be great if you could get in some writing… there is so much you can do with the extra time as long as you have the motivation to do it 🙂

  6. Debbie September 4, 2014 / 10:27 AM

    A PINK cell phone? Oh, Janna, that’s just too priceless! Y’all couldn’t have done better if you’d planned it.

    I have to confirm that selective hearing thing. Customers do it, too. The minute I pull out a price range for the web design services they want me to do, they ONLY hear the lowest number. Works every time. I’m wondering if I shouldn’t offer them a high-to-low range and see where that gets me, Haha!

    I think it’s just your older son’s age. When their hormones kick in, they can’t be moved, even with a crane! Motivation. smotivation — they don’t seem to care. Remember, this, too, shall pass. You’ve got to be stronger than he is. You’ve trod a similar path, so you’ve got the advantage of familiarity. Bosses hold out carrots all the time because they work. Once he gets what he wants, you can’t really expect him to buckle down and complete those chores! Hang tough, Janna — one day, some girl is going to thank you for it!

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2014 / 1:57 AM

      Funny thing is, I never would’ve gone that route right off… saddling them with a pink phone seems a little mean. I’m okay with the way it happened because the pink phone came about because of irresponsibility (getting the other phone wet.)

      It would be curious if the high to low price range would get a different response. Maybe if you shock them with the worst-case, they would go for an amount a little higher than the minimum 🙂

      We (my son and I, and input from my husband) wrote out a contract tonight. Actually my son wrote most of it… gist is, no phone if he doesn’t do his chores, talks back to us, or has grades lower than “B” in any class. We’ll pay the line fee, he pays the usage. It’s all signed and copies made 🙂

  7. nrhatch September 4, 2014 / 10:53 AM

    Lack of motivation (to “get off our buts”) may stem from fear, guilt, anger, unworthiness, laziness, etc. Or our lack of motivation might mean we are content where and how and who we are.

    Eat when hungry, sleep when tired . . . move when restless.

    The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are. ~ J. Pierpoint Morgan

    This might give you some ideas (beyond PINK phones ~ haha!) to teach your kids the benefits of internal motivation:

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2014 / 11:52 AM

      That was a cool video, Nancy. On the surface, the findings do seem contrary to what we’d think. The autonomy part makes perfect sense… I’m more creative and willing to find solutions when I don’t have a boss breathing down my neck micromanaging me 🙂

      • nrhatch September 5, 2014 / 12:35 PM

        I feel the same. I do NOT like people prodding me with sticks or manipulating me with carrots.

        Although chocolate might do the trick! 😎

        • jannatwrites September 5, 2014 / 12:37 PM

          Hehe, chocolate never hurts! The best case situation: bring me chocolate, and then leave me alone 😛

        • nrhatch September 5, 2014 / 3:04 PM


  8. joannesisco September 4, 2014 / 11:25 AM

    Motivation. Tough one. If you ever find the Royal Jelly of motivation, please let me know. Mine is highly unreliable and flickers off and on unexpectedly. I’ve tried to repair it numerous times over the years, but I’m starting to think it’s just a faulty connection somewhere … probably in my butt.

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2014 / 11:53 AM

      Haha, your comment cracked me up, Joanne! I can relate. It takes a lot of thinking before I get fired up enough to get around to the doing 🙂

  9. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) September 4, 2014 / 11:28 AM

    Motivating — yes that’s tricky. Actually it seems that everyone is struggling with this.. I guess you could go to Maslow’s theories.. but I guess it’s hard to use. I friend of mine seem to use a combo of motivations and whips… The best story was when her boys had not put the laundry in the laundrybasket… she resolutely took the wifi-router and put it in the laundry box.. But I guess that they have to have a device first to use this motivation.. but honestly,. the best motivation is what is perceived as fun, and give you some sense of being rewarded… like the computer game… which is actually quite boring. but if you manage and get a virtual crown you feel great…

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2014 / 11:56 AM

      That was an creative solution your friend had, Bjorn. (In our house, the router would have to stay… I need it for work… but their iPods have been taken away on many occasions!)

      We’re trying the written contract route (most of it drafted by our son.) Since he’s aware of the conditions and consequences, we’re leaving it up to him to adhere to it. He’s also in charge of managing his usage (charges) since he will be paying for it. I’m hoping this will be a good lesson in responsibility. I think he can handle it.

  10. newwhitebear September 4, 2014 / 11:44 AM

    A post that is truly amazing for how it started and how it developed.
    The motivation? It is an incentive to fantasy.

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2014 / 11:58 AM

      You are so kind, Newwhitebear! I’m glad you liked the post- and were ‘motivated’ to leave a comment 🙂

  11. thepaperbutterfly September 4, 2014 / 5:48 PM

    That’s awesome! You’re a lovely writer, and I have no doubt you could write an awesome novel 😀 Novels take a lot of motivation. I found a great password-encrypted literary critique site, and that helps motivate me to write. Novels are hard because you can’t really post it publicly. Well you can, but there are issues with doing that. Posting it for others helps motivate me 🙂 That’s one of the things that I loved so much about fanfiction, lol, you could post your novels chapter by chapter for feedback. I was posting short stories on my blog until I realized that made them ineligible for submission to most literary magazines. Now that I’ve found a literary critique site I love, I feel such strong motivation to write 8D

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2014 / 12:01 PM

      Oh, I wish I had your confidence in me, TPB! The novel I’m working on is taken from a series of installments (most 333 words or less.) I didn’t reveal the ending or a major ‘surprise’ in the plot, so I really don’t think publishing would be jeopardized on this. (This is “Darlene’s Story”, which has it’s own page (tab) on my blog, if you’re curious about the story.) Of course the novel is being done under a different working title, which I won’t put on the blog.. in case someone else who can write faster than me decides they like it and tries to use it first, haha!

      • thepaperbutterfly September 5, 2014 / 7:30 PM

        Thanks, I found it 😀 It’s pretty long so it might take me a while, but I’m looking forward to it ^^ That’s smart, having another title. I should do that for my short stories. I removed it all from my blog, but on literary critique sites I refer to it by it’s original title. I think that’s a good way to do it, post some of the novel but not the whole thing. No one could steal it unless they were a great writer and able to finish it, but if one was a great writer, why steal at all.

        • jannatwrites September 9, 2014 / 8:02 PM

          That last part of your comment is a great observation, TPB! It’s a chance posting anything online, but it does feel like having a different title keeps it a little bit of a secret, haha 🙂

  12. Imelda September 5, 2014 / 7:13 PM

    I wish I can find what motivates my elder son. 🙂 Right now, as long as they can play their games, any color of tablet will do.

    As for me, satisfying a need to create and the joy of having made something motivates me. Conversely, failure to do so disappoints me deeply. Having a more or less orderly place (that is, one that is in a state of tolerable mess) makes me clean and clean when things have gone too out of hand. On the other hand, all the neat things you mentioned like Games and Forensic shows are my Achilles’ heels.

    • jannatwrites September 9, 2014 / 8:05 PM

      Oh, the video games are a terrible distraction, Imelda! We seem to be a lot alike in the clutter area. I can put up with it for a while and then it just gets to a breaking point where I go on a cleaning frenzy.

  13. pattisj September 5, 2014 / 9:50 PM

    Just when you think you have them figured out, the game changes. 🙂

    • jannatwrites September 9, 2014 / 8:06 PM

      That’s so true, Patti. At least I have little glimmers of thinking I’ve got it before it all changes 🙂

  14. SheLeader September 6, 2014 / 4:26 AM

    This is great. It’s interesting how we’re all motivated differently. What a journey it can be to find out what will propel us into action. I find feedback and positive reinforcement helps me too. Look forward to reading your finished work!

    • jannatwrites September 9, 2014 / 8:07 PM

      Motivation is a tricky thing because the same thing doesn’t work for everyone. Thanks for reading, GodGirl!

  15. Kathy Combs (@Kathy29156) September 7, 2014 / 5:40 PM

    We just got my daughter a phone and she will be 14 at the end of this month simply because she is running the concessions stand at her school’s sporting events and needed a way to let me know if say a football game had been canceled to inclement weather. She didn’t really need one before now…but now that she has one it is great. As far as the writing goes….I have struggled for quite a while. I have made the decision not to force it. Hopefully I will be inspired by one of the prompts this week. 🙂

    • jannatwrites September 9, 2014 / 8:13 PM

      My son is twelve, but he does have sports and band events where they don’t always have an exact return time. So far, he’s borrowed friends’ phones to call us. I think your approach to writing is good… I saw at least one email that you’ve posted, so I’ll be by to check that out, soon, Kathy

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