Apparently You Cannot Motivate Me With One Written Word

To thine own self be true…

LATE LAST WINTER I STUMBLED on an article that was about how to be more productive.  I wasn’t looking for an article on that topic, but for some reason when I saw this particular article I stopped to read what it had to say.

The gist of this article, that I did not save the link to, told me that if anyone [who reads English, I’m assuming] sees the word ACHIEVE while working at any task, then that anyone will be more productive.

So being a curious open-minded person who happened to be bored on a winter afternoon, I wrote “Achieve” on a post-it note and put the post-it note where I’d see it when I sit at my desktop computer every day.

The premise of this idea seemed a little woo-woo to me, but I thought: Why not? I’ll keep the note where it is for spring and then when summer arrives I’ll evaluate what has happened.

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SUMMER IS HERE NOW SO it’s time for me to weigh in on the efficacy of this visual aid: that is, have I been inspired to new heights of productivity because I see the word ACHIEVE every day?

As much as I want to say “yes, this ezpz solution has helped me be more productive,” I’m going to be honest and tell you, my gentle readers, that I don’t think I’ve been any more or less productive since I put this post-it note in my line of sight.

I, of course, have no way of verifying my finding because I have no baseline level of productivity from which to start my study, so my conclusion is entirely subjective… rather like the idea in the article that prompted me to try this experiment.

But what I have learned about myself from this little foray into the land of inspirational signage is that for me the desire to do things has to come from within, and cannot be supplanted by one random word… no matter how clearly or often I see that word.

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

Do you find yourself motivated when you see an inspirational sign with one word on it?

OR

Do you find yourself to be motivation-resistant to one word signs like I am?

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Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Creative. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Looking for the crumb of truth in the cookie of life.

71 thoughts on “Apparently You Cannot Motivate Me With One Written Word”

  1. Personally, those one word reminders to do, “something” are as much inspiration to me as looking at a blank post-it note. Don’t get me wrong, I use post-it note reminders, a lot, but usually they’re for all my to-do items, not so much those nudges to be better or faster or smarter…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deb, I hear ‘ya. I didn’t hate seeing this word each day, but it didn’t nudge me forward to do something I wasn’t already going to do. Like you, I use post-it notes for specific tasks, not abstract ideas. But you know, if it helps someone achieve more, then cool beans for them!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A few years ago, I put signs around saying “LOVE & GRATITUDE” . . .

    When I noticed them, they made me smile immediately. But, even though they were THERE all the time, I didn’t SEE them all the time.

    We can become oblivious to signage (and all manner of flotsam and jetsam) when we are on auto-pilot.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Nancy, you’re onto something with how I became acclimated to seeing this word, so I overlooked it. I mean, I saw it… but somehow I don’t think it influenced me quite as much as I thought that it might.

      It’s interesting that your signs, which had more than one word on them, also didn’t seem to motivate you. Writing this post I got wondering if a more wordy sign would have influenced me more.

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  3. I enjoy the signs for the warm fuzzy they produce – one of my favorites being “even Superman puts his underwear on wrong,” but while they give me a laugh, they rarely inspire me to work harder than I already drive myself.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Allie, I agree with you. I enjoy clever wordplay* so reading any sign can make me smile, but as for pushing me forward to change my ways… I dunno. But they must appeal to someone, considering how many of them there are.

      * My current favorite is: “Be a pineapple. Stand up straight. Wear a crown. And be sweet on the inside.” 😉

      Liked by 4 people

        1. I feel the same way.

          The thing is that a saying with lots of words sends a message to me, but a one word sign just sits there– not motivating me. That’s the lesson I’m taking away from this ACHIEVE experiment.

          Liked by 3 people

    1. nance, I’ve written about the same amount, but we did decide finally to do the remodel… so maybe subliminally I was influenced. You suppose?! 🤔

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  4. Anything that is in the same place for any length of time become part of the scenery for me – I know it’s there, but I take it for granted. My desire to do anything has to come from within. Within is often resistant.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Carol, I’ve come to realize the wisdom of your thought. I agree, even though my little post-it note was always there, I stopped seeing it.

      And you are so right: “My desire to do anything has to come from within. Within is often resistant.” Don’t I know this!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Love the pineapple saying. Is it yours, can I borrow it? I was thinking the same thing as Nance about you starting your remodel as being an achievement. You know how I feel about my word of the year (I think you saw my most recent post about that) so yes, I do think that a word can influence you – if you let it. Wondering if you noticed the word Achieve anywhere else during this time period, other than on your computer post it? I seem to find my word all over the place 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janet, I didn’t make up that saying. I see it around from time-to-time, but have no idea of the source.

      I like my word of the year, too. It is RELAX But I decided on it specifically for me whereas “Achieve” fell into my life, and maybe that’s why I never let it in. Or I’m achieving and don’t even notice that I’m more productive because of it.

      Who knows, huh?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A single word doesn’t really do anything for my motivation – especially a vague word like ‘achieve’. On the right day, I could consider it an achievement to watch 8 back-to-back episodes of a show on Netflix.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joanne, EXACTLY! I find any one word motivation [command?] to be too vague to ring true with me. I like sayings or quotes that encapsulate an idea, but one word doesn’t capture my attention. But it was fun to try it anyhow.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I remember reading an article a long, long time ago, about how classrooms with positive and inspirational posters had students achieving at higher levels, and teachers reported more cooperation, but I dunno how much stock I’d put on the one word situation, as both seem more anecdotal and subjective to me. Can’t hurt.
    I’m sorry you didn’t achieve more? Or not?
    Personally, I find STOP signs very effective 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. joey, I’d do better with a phrase or quote as my source of visual inspiration than with one word written somewhere. That’s my conclusion about this experiment. But if one word works for someone else, then have at it!

      Good point about the STOP sign. Of course, is it the word or the color/shape of the sign that embeds in your brain? [Both probably.]

      Like

  8. In my day those motivational posters would line the walls of employers…you know, the ones with happy people doing fun things that didn’t include working (like climbing a mountain, sky diving, etc)…and they’d have one word on them, like “Resolve” or “Perseverance”; or cheesy little sayings like “Go Team!” (yeah one employer had that one in a prominent place where the call center drones could all see it. I thought it was idiotic. But I don’t find the motivational poster or meme (these days) all that bad an idea. Sometimes it does it’s job to motivate one to ‘do better or more’ or reminds a person why they’re struggling on doing a job that might seem thankless or boring. At one job I bought a copy of Dali’s “Swans Reflecting Elephants” to remind myself of the transition I was trying to make at that time. But maybe my favorite was the cardboard one that had a sloth, hanging upside down on a limb that said “Hang In There”. That one was more pertinent.

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    1. Embeecee, I apologize for not responding to your comment sooner. It just showed up on my blog today, July 4. Where it has been all these weeks I don’t know, but there you have it. Now onto talking with you…

      I agree that if something motivates you to do better, then by all means look at it. Although, like you, no way would “Go Team” make me want to get on with things. Somehow my little post-it note never encouraged me either, but a sloth, doing anything, would make me happy. And a happy Bean is a productive Bean.

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    1. John, now these signs I like. Both because they have multiple words on them– and because I have a dark sense of humor that finds them perfectly sensible. Thanks for the link.

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  9. Motivational quotes and words only last a few moments for me. I read them, feel invigorated, and then promptly forget them, even if I have them somewhere near me. Apparently I’m not much of a rereader. 😁

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Carrie, that’s it exactly. Are you a rereader or not? I, too, forget what I see on inspirational signs, but on the other hand I remember quotes + sayings that I like in my head and can recite them. So I guess once the idea gets inside my skull, it stays.

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  10. I’m as skeptical as you were (and possibly more so now that you report less-than-stellar results), but I’m gonna give it a try. I’m going to put a sticky note next to my laptop for the next few weeks and see what happens.

    My word: WRITE

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gabe, considering that you came up with the meaningful word on your own, and didn’t have it handed to you by accident, I’m going to guess that your one word post-it note experiment has a better chance of helping you than mine did. And if it doesn’t– well, at least you tried. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I used to find those work-related motivational posters so annoying (I still think they are annoying, I just don’t see them much now that I’m retired). I’m not surprised that “Achieve” didn’t have its intended affect on you. Pretty soon those things just become part of the background noise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janis, I’m not much for those work-related motivational posters either. I think that they’re dorky. But I thought that maybe one word would be effective. However, for me it didn’t work, but I’m learning that some people take such things to heart and do better because of it. To thine own self, ‘ya know?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry, I misread. I meant to say No then Yes. In other words, I’m with you. I doubt “Achieve” would do much for me. Maybe a few more words ala “Quit being a slacker!” would be more effective.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Betsy, I wondered how you could say YES to both questions, but far be it from me to suggest that you couldn’t do that!

          I’m with you on “Quit being a slacker.” A message like that would motivate me because it gets to the point– while “Achieve” is open to interpretation.

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  12. If I see a word like ‘achieve’ I think i before e except after – o blast I can’t remember. But I get distracted very easily and blooming annoyed at such a word that helped me being distracted. Weird huh …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Susan, I know what you mean about being distracted by the spelling of this word. I did a quadruple-take when I first wrote it down. There’s just something “off” about writing it. Don’t know why I ever got involved with this word…

      Liked by 1 person

  13. One word, so-called inspirational messages make me roll my eyes a little and want to resist. Now if it said, “MARGARET, GET OFF YOUR ASS AND DO SOMETHING!” that might work. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Margaret, you’re too funny! You know, I bet if you asked your girls real nice, they’d have that sign made for you as a retirement present. I’m with you on the eye-rolling about the one word signs. I’m immune to their charms.

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  14. You know how when you write or look at a word too often it starts looking weird, like it isn’t spelled correctly even though you know it is spelled right? That’s probably what would happen to me if I had to look at the word “ACHIEVE” every day. I know this phenomenon would become a major distraction and defeat the purpose of putting the word up in the first place. Plus, as others have pointed out, a word kind of loses its impact if you have to look at it everyday.

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    1. la p, that’s precisely what happened with me and this word. I kept wondering if I spelled it right. I did, but there was doubt in mind– about the spelling and about the usefulness of seeing ACHIEVE every day.

      This one word inspiration concept might work for some people, but not for me. Whatever floats your boat…

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  15. My desire to get more done is much like my desire to find something that will make everything super clean around the house without any work from me: I want there to be a magical way to make it happen, but I’m guessing the only way to actually get things done is to just put in the work.

    Or win the lottery and hire someone to take care of the latter for me.

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    1. Sarah, you said it! It’s the effort, not a magical word that makes things happen. I realize that for some people seeing ACHIEVE daily motivates them to do more, but for me it had no discernible impact on what I did, or didn’t, do.

      [If you win the lottery let me know. I’ve always wanted to say I know someone who has.]

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, you will all know if and when I win the lottery, because I’ll suddenly be on vacation all the time!

        I have met a couple people who have won non-giant jackpots in the lottery – say $1 million or less. They’ve really just used the money for mundane things, like paying for a house or college funds.

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  16. Inspiration, whether to be productive or to create something, needs to be organic. It can’t come from a note or a sign that is specifically intended to inspire. I’m not going to be more productive because some sign is trying to not-so-subtly hint to me that I should be more productive. if anything, the rebel in me is going to intentionally ignore that sign…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. evilsquirrel13, I agree with you. I put the post-it note up wondering if I was wrong assuming that it wouldn’t work on me. But I turned out to be the same person I usually am, regardless of the word ACHIEVE staring me in the face every day. I tend to do things for my own reasons, so a one word note didn’t change that. But it was fun to see what happened because I tried to be motivated.

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  17. Thought-provoking post, Ally. I doubt that a single word would work for me either. (But I have now added an ‘relax’ sticky note to my computer screen just to see).

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    1. Donna, I’ll be interested in knowing if your note prompts you to relax. It might be more effective on you because you chose that word for yourself. I stumbled upon “Achieve” so maybe I wasn’t primed to accept it. I dunno…

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  18. Posting it on a mirror wouldn’t work for me as I’d probably not have my reading glasses on and misread it as “Eat Cheese” …which would an excuse to stop doing what I was doing, not to mention a weight gain.
    Call me an obstinate child ( mom often did) but I don’t like a person – much less squiggles on a piece of paper telling me what to do. Although when in sales I did have a phrase I asked myself beginning of every work day and at the end of the day: “What specifically did you do to bring X (project/ sale) closer to to actually happening?” Inside my head works better than bossy notes

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    1. philmouse, “squiggles on a piece of paper” is an apt description of my post-it note experiment. I’ve taken it down now, crumpling it up before I tossed it in the trash. I thought maybe it would work, but my motivation comes from within… rather sporadically, but that’s where it is.

      [Your sales question reminds me of the teacher plan acronym: SWBAT. “At the end of the day Student Will Be Able To _____.” I use it on myself from time-to-time.]

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      1. Ah, yes the days of formal daily written objective oriented teaching…like natural teachers didn’t automatically do that in their heads each day. Can’t teach a fish to swim if it doesn’t already have fins and gills and know instinctively how to use them.
        Skills quite transferable – and life long – HAHA

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  19. There was a time in the 2000’s where work places were plastered with motivational posters and I nearly went blind because I rolled my eyes so often and so hard. The idea that a motivational poster, or word in the case of your post, is in fact motivational is ridiculous. It works for some, I’ll yield on that, or they wouldn’t be put up in the first place. For someone like me, a technical geek, they’re just a waste of energy better spent on staring at a computer screen 🙂

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    1. Andrew, I have never been smitten with motivational anything. I tend to be too cynical for all that forced external “upbeatness” to sink into my mind. But I thought that maybe one word, minding its own business, would inspire me to greatness. It didn’t, but at least I can say I tried. 🙄

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