Why Motivation is only a Temporary Fix

Why Motivation Is Only A Temporary Fix - People Development Network
Christina Lattimer
I help leaders develop self- mastery, helping them to become confident in their own inner guidance. I collaborate with leadership experts, managers and HR professionals to help them get their own message and unique services and products to a wide audience.
Christina Lattimer

@pdiscoveryuk

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Christina Lattimer
Christina Lattimer

Motivation Is Only A Temporary Fix

Both at work and at home we are constantly attempting to motivate ourselves or others to get things done.  We might want to be motivated to:

  • Get the chores out of the way
  • Meet the milestones on some big project
  • Do a better job
  • Get some weight off and be healthier
  • Earn more money

And the list goes on.

The problem with the state of being motivated is that motivation is only a temporary fix.  The traditional drivers to motivation are “away” motivation or “towards” motivation.  This means we are either trying to get away from something, someone or some situation or we are drawn towards something we want.

Away Motivation

Marketers and politicians use “away” motivation because it gets immediate attention when people relate to the worst scenario, and the marketers and politicians use this as leverage and promise us they can find a way out or a solution.  Although powerful, it is an ego-based tactic because it preys on people’s fears and problems.  Away motivation is only a temporary fix which will only last as long as the fear and problem remain in place.

Towards Motivation

This type of motivation is used for people who are drawn towards something they want.  Towards motivation can be powerful for people who are aware they are experiencing what they don’t want and want to move to something they think they want.  Once the goal has been achieved, then motivation is lost and a new goal is usually required to reconfigure the sense of motivation. Equally towards motivation is only a temporary fix.

A Word about Maslow

We are constantly being motivated by differing factors linked to our experiences in the world.  Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a powerful much-used theory which maps out the stages of motivation:

  1. Physiological – basic survival needs
  2. Safety – Feeling secure
  3. Social – The ability to experience positive relationships
  4. Esteem – Thinking well of oneself and others
  5. Self-Actualisation – Coming into one’s own power

Maslow’s hierarchy is linked to external circumstances and, therefore, will often only be in place temporarily while external influences are positively based.  Some people can climb up and down the ladder of motivation depending on what stage their life is currently at.  So for example someone who has held a good job for a number of years, may be pretty much up the scale, but when the job goes, suddenly they are down at the bottom of the ladder battling for survival once more.

The Problem with Motivation

Being self-motivated is based on putting the world to rights, or making the world look like we want it to.  It is based on the idea that our self-worth and meaning is wrapped up in what we do or what we achieve in the world   it is a powerful influencer because we can be quite often successful at motivating ourselves in the short term.  And so we often find ourselves seeking new motivation, or more commonly finding our motivation doesn’t last, so we don’t get the project done on time, or we lose the love, lose the money, or whatever other external circumstance we place our sense of self on.

So finding motivation is often a double-edged sword, because it is an ever moving feast, and our sense of self is harnessed to an insecure anchor, which can be unpacked without warning. Here are some of the pitfalls of seeking and using motivation>

  1. Self-Worth is based on external factors and if external factors change, our sense of self-worth can change
  2. Motivation taps into our fears and can lead to more fearful ideas and thoughts
  3. Away Motivation isn’t designed to help us learn something about ourselves, it is reactionary
  4. Towards Motivation can often lead to us putting our ladder against the wrong wall. How many people think they want that job, partnership, the situation only to find out they are in personal hell?
  5. Motivation can be driven by the opinions and values of others and a fear of being different
  6. Not being motivated can make people feel like failures.

It’s Not All Bad

If you are in the grip of ego and feeling pretty bad, then there is nothing wrong with some towards or away motivation as long as it is understood it is a temporary fix and that it does actually improve your circumstances.  The key here is to feel better.

A Better Way

Once we recognise we all have internal guidance, then the need for motivation falls away.  Our internal guidance might be called our intuition, our internal being, our higher self, our internal teacher, guide, angel, God, or whatever you feel comfortable with.  It is the intrinsic collective consciousness which every single being possesses, but many of us deny.  Dan Pink in his  book “Drive”  identifies 3 characteristics of intrinsic motivation:  Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.   These characteristics are similar to Maslow’s final layer of motivation: Self Actualisation.  All of these characteristics are consistent with (but not always exclusively) those of people who are actually inspired by their internal guidance rather than motivated by external influences.

When we act with the guidance of our intuition, then we no longer need to feel motivated or find motivation. We feel inspired.  Inspired action is acting on the guidance of our collective consciousness which is wiser, better informed and our best friend.  Our internal guidance is single-minded and leads us towards the best for us.

Inspired Action Beats Motivated Action

The characteristics of inspired action speak for themselves:  Inspired action:

  • Always comes from a win/win premise
  • Comes from a place of healthy self-worth and love
  • Is internally based on values and love
  • Respects your desires but is unattached to outcomes
  • Wants the best for you
  • Wants the best for others
  • Brings together heart and mind and so brings clarity
  • Creates states of enthusiasm, gratitude and appreciation
  • Is joyful and loving
  • Keeps us in the present
  • Helps us to reach for better thoughts and feelings
  • Helps us to uncover who we really are

So there you have it, if we want to experience something different in our lives, we must stop searching for motivation and ask for inspiration, and then be prepared to listen to our intuition.  It’s not our job to worry about how it will happen, just be willing.

12 Comments

  • Jazz says:

    Aren’t you going against your own ‘MILE’ mantra with this article?
    Motivate, Inspire…

    • Hi Jazz

      Thanks for raising this seeming contradiction as it gives me a chance to address this very point. My consultancy is based on Inspirational leadership and you can view my leadership model here The main thrust is that true leadership emanates from within, when a leader is connected to their inner being or inner self. Because I speak to a diverse network, there are many people who the do not resonate with the whole idea of being inspired. Many people prefer only relating to information gathered through sensing, and therefore being motivated rather than inspired resonates better. I remember once asking a group of leaders if they would prefer to be remembered for being inspiring or respected. The people with a sensing preference predominately chose respected. People more predisposed to intuition chose being inspiring.

      As I point out, feeling motivated, or finding external motivation isn’t a bad thing per se, it is a very useful way of helping people get into a better place, and it is obviously standard “management speak” so people relate to the terminology. My article is simply pointing out that external motivation is always temporary. That’s not to say it’s not helpful at times. I hope this helps to clarify. Thanks for taking the time to comment, it is appreciated.

  • Jazz says:

    Aren’t you going against your own ‘MILE’ mantra with this article?
    Motivate, Inspire…

    • Hi Jazz

      Thanks for raising this seeming contradiction as it gives me a chance to address this very point. My consultancy is based on Inspirational leadership and you can view my leadership model here The main thrust is that true leadership emanates from within, when a leader is connected to their inner being or inner self. Because I speak to a diverse network, there are many people who the do not resonate with the whole idea of being inspired. Many people prefer only relating to information gathered through sensing, and therefore being motivated rather than inspired resonates better. I remember once asking a group of leaders if they would prefer to be remembered for being inspiring or respected. The people with a sensing preference predominately chose respected. People more predisposed to intuition chose being inspiring.

      As I point out, feeling motivated, or finding external motivation isn’t a bad thing per se, it is a very useful way of helping people get into a better place, and it is obviously standard “management speak” so people relate to the terminology. My article is simply pointing out that external motivation is always temporary. That’s not to say it’s not helpful at times. I hope this helps to clarify. Thanks for taking the time to comment, it is appreciated.

  • Glen Esnard says:

    Great comments, Christina! Experience and perspective? I think inspiration is predominately driven by personal values and contribution to others.

    • Thanks Glen – we seem to be mostly inspired when contributing although ones own inspiration is always unique – I remember reading M Scott Peck author of “The Road Less Travelled” saying he didn’t feel called to contribution but of course he did anyway as his writing has helped millions.

  • Glen Esnard says:

    Great comments, Christina! Experience and perspective? I think inspiration is predominately driven by personal values and contribution to others.

    • Thanks Glen – we seem to be mostly inspired when contributing although ones own inspiration is always unique – I remember reading M Scott Peck author of “The Road Less Travelled” saying he didn’t feel called to contribution but of course he did anyway as his writing has helped millions.

  • David says:

    Hi Christina,

    I like your piece on Motivation. It is interesting to not that motivation may get you going but inspiration keeps you going. Motivation may get you what you want but inspiration ensures you get what you really need to grow and become the best you can be. Motivation is spurred on my your emotions (same root word ‘movuvoir’= move) inspiration is deeper and richer from ‘Breath’ the very essence of life connecting us to the power of being present.
    warm regards
    David

  • David says:

    Hi Christina,

    I like your piece on Motivation. It is interesting to not that motivation may get you going but inspiration keeps you going. Motivation may get you what you want but inspiration ensures you get what you really need to grow and become the best you can be. Motivation is spurred on my your emotions (same root word ‘movuvoir’= move) inspiration is deeper and richer from ‘Breath’ the very essence of life connecting us to the power of being present.
    warm regards
    David

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