What do you want?

Published on 26 May 2014

 The creative power of personal outcomes

‘Motivated people think more clearly. They focus more resources on their current project and the result is more creativity’
— Zig Ziglar, Success for Dummies.

The trick (or psychology if you prefer) is very simple. Work out what motivates you and make sure you get enough of it. This principle applies to practitioners, people who need our support, everyone in fact. And we find it hard. Human beings are so used to operating within hierarchies, agencies, families, groups, political regimes and assumptions based on what happened to us in the past. We forget to notice our changing moods when situations don’t work for us and assume we just have to put up with things. Work (as well as leisure) can be energising and rich if you know what works for you and what you need.


I know I need time on my own to reflect and write poetry. If I’m so busy at work that I can’t fit this in I still make sure I get some reflection time, even if that means staying up a bit later at night or rising earlier in the morning. The point is, I have learned to recognise what happens to my mood and productivity if I don’t do this. I’m not just bored, I can get very bad-tempered and I’m definitely not open and creative! I choose to be motivated because I don’t like the person I become if I don’t.


I know a  person receiving support who’s only consistent ‘want’ is to live in a warm, tropical or Mediterranean climate. You might say this is her personal outcome. She’s also a talented artist, let’s called her Iona.  Iona is being encouraged to clean up her ugly bungalow in a grey, rainy Scottish village before being considered for a supported move. It’s easier for her to hide under the duvet and read a novel set in sunny Spain than to tackle the mess.

One day Iona stands in her doorway wielding a hammer and screaming ‘look at it!’ This frightens the school children across the road which gets her into big trouble. Later that day she says to her friend ‘look at me, I’m useless, nothing works.’

Iona may simply get up and go by herself, she’s an adult, but her problems mean that she is at risk and so are other people if she does this. Iona will only be motivated to accept help if the people who support her understand how important warmth and beauty are to her sense of self. She will only be motivated to think creatively and co-produce a new future for herself if somehow those qualities of life she craves can be accessed. This will be hard work for her and for her support team. The work will be much, much harder, if she is expected to ‘fit in’, just because she happens to need help.