Last week when I visited family in California, my father mentioned to a family friend that I was in the Air Force. After exchanging pleasantries, he asked me how long I had been in the military, and I said, “Nine and a half years.” He fired back to me with a question that I hadn’t thought about for a long time. “What motivated you to do more than four years?”
We hear the word “motivated” or “motivation” quite often. Motivation is nothing more than a psychological feature that arouses someone toward a desired goal. It also controls and sustains goal-directed behaviors. Looking at this definition one must have a defined goal in mind in order to be motivated or have motivation.
The Air Force relies heavily on the professional and personal goals Airmen set in their lives in order to maintain its highest standards and execute the mission. If we, as Airmen, are not motivated then we would not be the fighting force we are today. College degrees are desirable for many Airmen today. The Air Force uses the intellect of its Airmen in order to stay ahead of the United States’ adversaries. Therefore, education is a prime motivating factor for Airmen who want to contribute more to the Air Force mission.
Goal setting can be as simple as wanting to wake up 30 minutes earlier than the normal time. It can be more complex such as wanting to become chief master sergeant of the Air Force.
I’ve asked every Airman I’ve ever supervised, “What goals do you have for your Air Force career?” The answers differ from Airman to Airman depending on their own values. Some are fitness related, some are performance report related and some are just personal. I then asked a follow-up question. “How are you going to achieve these goals?” Most of the time after a minute of thinking to themselves, they come to the conclusion that the plan to reach their goals is not as set in stone as they would like. As a supervisor, I think it’s my job to assist them in creating a goal plan and motivating them to achieve their goals. Everyone needs a goal and a path to achieve that goal; this is my idea of being motivated.
In the Air Force today, there are many factors one can call demotivating. Sequestration, potential civilian furloughs and budget constraints are all what I would consider less than ideal conditions. We cannot allow events in life to affect the way we protect the American people or motivate ourselves to achieve our goals. It’s easy to say things are too hard or it’s not my job, but living by the Air Force core value of excellence in all we do is part of our mission to stay motivated. We all have a duty to the Air Force to create, achieve and maintain goals and excellence. It’s what keeps America on top.
After thinking for a few seconds about the question posed to me by the family friend, I simply replied, “I didn’t reach my goals in the first four years, so I had to sign up for a few more.” Personally, I have no idea where my life or my Air Force career is going to take me in the future; however, I do know that I will keep my goals in line, so I can be the best Airman I can be.
Motivation is an inner drive that causes a person to act in a certain manner, but it all starts with setting goals. So set goals and stay motivated. It’s our duty.