Are you motivated by status or growth? This is the question I intend to discuss in this post. In my relationships and in my work, I’ve been motivated by many things. My first marriage included a huge rise in financial and lifestyle status. I was driven to obtain and maintain that status. Writing The Quiet Rise of Introverts and working with unique clients in my coaching business, required and requires a lot of research, learning and willingness to try new uncomfortable actions. Keep reading to find out what I’ve learned from these experiences and how my family and I apply it to challenges.
Status is nice
My son is motivated by status. He loves to be the best. He likes earning medals at rowing races. When he was younger, if he did not win the board game we played, we prepared for a Josh eruption. I’m not proud to say he was such a poor sport. I am proud to say he has matured and the tantrums over losing have ceased, but he still wants to be number one as often as possible.
Growth gets you through
Growth also motivates Josh. When he had his concussion last winter and was not able to practice rowing, he found books on improving rowing technique and read them. He asks his brother (also a rower) to send him the team workouts they do in college. He invites teammates over to row on machines in our basement. Josh wants to get better. He enjoys the process of practicing, while keeping the goal of a faster time in mind.
Expand or contract?
Some would say my first marriage was successful. We had three beautiful healthy children. We lived in a lovely home. We took expensive and fancy trips. We hung out with wealthy ‘successful’ people. Outwardly, we had it all. We had status.
Inwardly, my sense of self and personal value contracted. I felt my life was so narrow. Kids, husband, home. I mastered a lot of the day-to-day juggling. The perfectionism did not feel like growth. It felt stifling and in the end did not protect me from judgment or failure.
Our marital satisfaction dwindled. We did not approach each other to learn how to meet each other’s needs. We avoided those difficult vulnerable conversations. We withdrew from each other. I even withdrew from spending time with my children. I’m not proud of that either. Honestly, it is my biggest regret.
In my second marriage and in the parenting of my now adult and teenaged children, I choose growth. I try really hard. I move toward the challenges so we can resolve them.
Status without connection
My family’s financial status took a hit in the divorce. As my ex-husband likes to say, “No one gets rich in a divorce.” Unwittingly, I chose growth when I made the decision to get out of the marriage. At the time, I thought I wanted freedom, but now I can see I sought my own identity and a relationship that had potential for emotional connection. The final years of the marriage, in their seeking of status, brought an identity based on financial “success” and security but also put a limit on our relationship’s closeness and integrity.
Blending families brings lots of chances to practice growing
My new husband and I expected challenges while blending our families. We have different parenting philosophies. We have individually established financial beliefs and practices. He may doubt it at times, but I want to learn from him. I want to understand him. I want to approach him and be close with him, even when we disagree.
This is different than with my first husband. I wanted to get away from him, especially when our marriage struggled.
I am in a transition period for work. I used to stay at home most days and write, coach and take care of the house and kids. I love that work but found myself treading water, going nowhere. I craved new techniques and experiences. Truth be told, I also needed a more consistent pay check.
I now go to the high school every weekday and work as a paraprofessional. I still write a post for brendaknowles.com once per week. I still coach in the evenings but I focus less on writing and coaching now.
Growth brings possibilities
I want to keep growing in my work. I love working at the school. It has given me new experiences and new insight. I get to observe teenagers all day. My ideas and career possibilities grow every day. My latest plan is to write fiction next summer. I’ll use all of my writing research, family experiences and work observations to craft a book or two?? on the relationship dynamics of teenagers.
Learning and growth keep me going. I am kind of a junkie for both. The engagement and purpose within them, are more valuable than any status I previously had.
What drives you? Do you think at a certain age we move toward growth versus status?