Work Skills: Motivation (Like Half Dome)

A few years ago I was in Yosemite National Park for a camping trip. Along with its wondrous valleys, trees, and waterfalls, YNP is known for its granite. Not the rocks you find here and there nor the countertops in the Ahwahnee Hotel, but MOUNTAINS OF IT. 

El Capitan, Sentinel Dome, North Dome, and Liberty Cap, are a a few of YNP’s granite mountains that stretch over the valley and amaze visitors. 

When I heard the tent zip, I knew it was go time. We grabbed snacks, filled our bottles, and unraveled toward the trailhead. From Lower Pines campground, Half Dome, depending on your route, is an approximately 20 mile-round trip hike with a 5,000-foot elevation gain. It’s not the most rigorous hike YNP has to offer, but it will test you, and stretch you; especially your ability to self-motivate and persevere.    

If you ask someone about Half Dome, chances are they will tell you about the dome. How it looks like a dome was cut in half, that it towers over the valley, and people scale it thousands of feet up using outdated poles and chains that somehow fit on one side. 

When people tell you about half dome, they don’t usually mention the hike; the journey it takes to get there, which is the process. The heat. The switchbacks. The mosquitoes. Running out of water. Stuck behind the slowest hikers in the world. Getting lost. Pricked by bushes. Little wins. The dust. Sunburned. Chapped lips. Chapped other things. Being Tired. Exhausted. Wanting to give up. Triumph. 

Although reaching the top is the reason (or the why) you go, most of your time is spent on the journey there (in process), like 99% of it. It’s a picture of life; you have a motivation for why you do what you do, and most of your time is spent working towards it. 

I remember struggling on the hike. When are we going to get there? (Can you picture a little boy in a car… are we theeerrre yet?? That was me.) I’d be struggling up switchbacks, across endless meadows, feeling lost, can’t see anything but the humongous trees.

And then we’d turn a corner, and there it would be…HALF DOME…a reminder of my purpose and motivation. 

Just the sight of it reinvigorated my journey, and inspired me to keep going.  

When it comes to your day-to-day at work, what is your half dome? Why do you do what you do? 

What are you working towards? What keeps you focused, motivated, and purposeful? 

What is your mission? Is it getting to the weekend? A promotion? Paycheck? Maybe it is something very different.  

As a follower of Christ, I desire for my half dome to be something good and just; something built on hope, that gives the people in my life, Real Life. I want it to be something that increases the well-being of others and contributes to the common good. 

For us, I want our half dome to be something like: Treating people better, working with integrity, blessing an enemy, putting people before profit, slowing down to really get to know the people you work with; working for peace and justice; Character, Relationship, and Seeking the Kingdom (Matthew 6:33).

What is your Half Dome? 

We are all motivated by something. Deep down, if we are aware of it or not, there is something moving, driving, and compelling us. Whatever it is, maybe you’re not sure, I hope you’ll find something that leads to life (John 10:10). 

Next time you’re tired, exhausted, and losing vision, I pray you’ll catch a vision of your Half Dome and remember our mission.

What will your half dome be this week? 

Some important notes:

  • If you are in a job you hate (i.e. unhealthy work environment, not making the world a better place, can’t find meaning), finding motivation can be very hard. 
  • Tips to find motivation in this place:
  • Focus on what you can control in the moment: like the way you carry yourself and treat people (Character and Relationship)
  • Set goals for improvement in these areas (Christ likeness)
  • Make small improvements in the environment: encourage health, purpose, and goodness, practice community building with co-workers (Seek the Kingdom)
  • Other options:
  • Quit, Move-on, do what you are made to do
  • If you don’t feel like there is a way out, find someone to help


Joshua Fieldson

Josh is a thoughtful and passionate leader. Currently, he is serving with Azusa Pacific University as the Assistant Director for Mobilization, where he leads marketing, educational programming, and on-going research and assessment for the Center for Student Action. Josh resides in Long Beach, California with his wife Stephanie of two years, where they enjoy outdoor adventures and the eclectic mix of cultures. In 2012, Josh earned his Master's in Public Health from Long Beach State University and just started his Master of Arts in Leadership at Azusa Pacific University.