Think of yourself…or your child…or an employee…and something that requires motivation to learn, but is a struggle to complete.

I think of my nine year old as she works on reading skills. She struggled with reading for many years. Though she loved the idea of reading, and loved to have others read to her, she would get frustrated when she tried it on her own. She often gave up because it was too hard. She wanted me to do it for her. How would that really help if all I ever did was read everything to her?

I am so grateful for her amazing teacher (who she had for three years) and her school, because they work with each child on their own level (her first school didn’t offer that in the early grades). They helped my girl to become aware of where she was in her reading, and developed a plan to become better. She improved so much in her last school year she will begin the next year one grade ahead for reading!

What motivated her? What helped her move forward? For starters, she had a teacher who worked hard to help her improve. They found out where she struggled, and where she excelled, and how she could move beyond the struggles. But the big change was she WANTED to read on her own! Is she done with learning? No, she has many more years to go. But I know she is equipped with the skills she needs to continue to improve. She went from, “It’s too hard!” and “Just read it to me!” to “Don’t help me mom…I want to try on my own!” I love it! But I know there are other kids receiving the same individual attention and they are not moving forward. They lack the motivation to change and learn.

We are facing a similar situation with our sewing program in Uganda. Our ladies wanted to learn sewing skills to support their families, yet the time and practice needed to become skilled have been hard to fit into their lives. They struggle with making ends meet day to day, with finding time to complete the lessons on their own, and with practicing the skills to get to the level that is needed to find a job as a seamstress.

Some realized this isn’t really what they want to do. Some don’t want to put the time into learning the skills now, because they can’t see how it will benefit them later. They are so overwhelmed with life as it is today.  Many are sticking with the things they already know how to do instead of putting time into this skill that will help them down the road. For them, and many people I know in life, the motivation to change and improve something that is not where they want to be is just missing. They stick with the comfortable, instead of reaching for something beyond that can be better.

We also have some who are excelling at their learning, and it’s so encouraging to see them growing in their skills! The ones who are motivated, and learning, still face the same struggles as the others, but they are choosing to work through it all because they want to know how to sew!

Our goal is not to be an organization that gives hand outs, but gives opportunities for each person to be motivated to make changes they want in life. We want to empower people, not enable them. But we cannot make them be motivated…they have to find that on their own. If they choose to continue with the same skills they have, their lives will not change. If they can see beyond the learning process, and what these skills will bring them, opportunities for change will be available for them.

I’d love your feedback!
How do you motivate yourself, or your kids, or your employees?
Please leave a comment, or send an email to judy@a-child’

One Response to “Motivation”

  1. Lynne Says:

    I think the key is trying something and having success. If one has failed several times motivation is hard to come by. Little successes can build one up! The important part is a teacher who can challenge gently at the person’s current level, just like your daughter’s teacher did. I have used this strategy for many years as an occupational therapist with good success.


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