Understanding Motivation

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Motivation. What is it? Why is it so important? I talk about it all the time in relation to achieving my own goals and encouraging you to go after yours, but do you really know what motivation is? In order to harness our internal drive to go after what we really want, it’s important to know what motivation is and how it works. 

In this blog series, I’m going to be sharing the different aspects of motivation, including how to find it, keep it, and use it to your advantage. But first, we need to define it. 

What is Motivation?

When defining a concept that we can’t see, it can help to start with the dictionary definition. Google defines motivation as “the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way”, or “the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.” I’d say that it’s a driving force that pushes its own pedal when it sees an opportunity. Thinking about the High Performance Habits, motivation goes hand in hand with Raising Necessity. 

Motivation is something everyone has inside of them, and it drives the smallest of actions as well as our drive to accomplish huge challenges. Our motivation influences us every day to do (or not do) certain things, and one of the best ways to understand it is to relate to situations when you need it. 

For instance, if you're listening to this podcast, you've just motivated yourself to do so because you'd like to improve some aspect of your life. On a more generic level, you might go to work because there's the motivation of a paycheck at the end of the month. Alternatively, your job could be something you love to do, so you are motivated to get up for work each day. If you are driven by self-expression, you may be motivated to write or paint every day. 

At its simplest, motivation is what pushes you to act in a certain way. 

Types of Motivators

While there are many situations in which motivation affects your behavior, they don’t all come from the same source. 

Big vs Small Motivators

Some things require a big step to inspire action, while others only need a little shove to get you going. Big motivators get you on your feet for change almost immediately, like quitting your job without a new one lined up; better start sending out those resumes! On the other hand, a small motivator could be seeing a limited-time two-for-one deal at the mall. You may not realize it at the moment, but this typical marketing strategy motivates you to make a purchase by setting a time limit on the deal. 

Positive vs Negative Motivators

Positive motivators get you moving because you know the end result is good. For example, a new parent may willingly assemble a baby crib even though it’s complicated, because they know the new baby needs a bed. Another example could be working 80 hours a week for yourself to build your dream business, because you love the freedom to make your own decisions and it gives you feelings of self-worth. 

Negative motivators are the things that encourage you to do something because you know that if you don’t, you’ll end up regretting it. Deadlines are a great example of this; you have a task to complete by a certain time and there are consequences if you don’t. 

I’m motivated to record The Extraordinary Life Podcast each week by both positive and negative motivators. On the positive side, the podcast fuels my mission to help people get to know themselves better so they can create an extraordinary life for themselves. I follow a deadline because if I don’t meet it, my producer (my husband) has to rush to get it done. It would also mean that my assistant who writes the podcast notes, organizes the blog, and helps get everything uploaded would have to rush. I consider it a negative consequence when I put other people out when they were counting on me. 

The Opposite of Motivation

Motivation helps you take action and is typically associated with positive feelings around accomplishment and commitment. Demotivation is the opposite of this. It’s the feeling that you can’t accomplish what you want to, and it makes you feel bad and often lethargic.

Being unmotivated isn’t always in your control, which makes it even worse. A bad day or experience can keep you from doing something; it could rain on the day you were going to the beach, so you stay home and do nothing active as you had planned. 

Another interesting aspect of motivation is that the exact same situation could motivate one person while demotivating another. Perhaps the company you work for posts a big promotion opportunity. You may feel excited about the prospect of applying and are motivated to create the required presentation. The person next to you, however, may feel like they have less of a chance than you so they are unmotivated to go for it. 

How to Counter Demotivation

We all feel unmotivated at times for different reasons, and it never feels good. These emotions counter the effect of motivation, and it’s a block preventing you from taking action. The cure? Becoming motivated to take action! 

While there are external factors at play when it comes to motivation, you are always in control of how you react - and it’s all a mind game. (Read more about how your thoughts affect your actions.)

Next week I’ll be sharing more about how to play (and win) the mind game of motivation. Until then, try noticing the things that motivate you, what doesn’t, and when you feel unmotivated. The first step in creating change is to notice what’s going on inside your own head. 

If you want help in learning how to motivate yourself to achieve the goals that make up your extraordinary life, schedule a free appointment to chat to see if we're a good fit to work together. I can help. 

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