Harnessing Motivation: Beyond the Temporary Fix
We often find ourselves striving to ignite motivation in various aspects of life, be it at work or home. However, the challenge lies in the fleeting nature of motivation. Traditional motivation comes in two forms: “away” motivation, which involves moving away from undesirable circumstances, and “towards” motivation, which is about gravitating towards desired outcomes. Common goals that drive us to seek motivation include completing chores, achieving milestones in significant projects, enhancing job performance, losing weight for better health, and increasing earnings. In this article we discuss why being motivated is not enough.
Understanding Away Motivation: A Short-Lived Solution
Away motivation, frequently utilized by marketers and politicians, captures immediate attention by resonating with people’s worst-case scenarios. This approach, while effective in the short term, is fundamentally an ego-driven tactic that exploits fears and problems. Its effectiveness is transient, lasting only as long as the underlying fear or problem persists. This type of motivation, though powerful, is a temporary solution, often leading to a cycle of fear-based motivation.
The Power and Limits of Towards Motivation
Towards Motivation is particularly effective for individuals who recognize their dissatisfaction and aspire for something better. However, this form of motivation also has its limitations. Once the desired goal is achieved, the motivation dissipates, necessitating the establishment of new goals to reignite motivation. Like away motivation, towards motivation is a temporary fix, often requiring continuous goal-setting to maintain momentum.
Maslow’s Hierarchy: A Framework for Understanding Motivation
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs offers a comprehensive model for understanding the stages of motivation, ranging from basic physiological needs to self-actualization. This theory suggests that our motivation is influenced by external circumstances. People may move up or down this motivational ladder depending on their life stage. For instance, someone who loses a long-held job might find themselves back at the base of the ladder, struggling for survival.
Maslow’s theory maps out the stages of motivation:
- Physiological – basic survival needs
- Safety – Feeling secure
- Social – The ability to experience positive relationships
- Esteem – Thinking well of oneself and others
- Self-Actualisation – Coming into one’s power
The Challenges of Relying on Motivation
Relying on self-motivation, which often involves shaping the world according to our desires, can lead to a cycle of constantly seeking new sources of motivation. This reliance can result in unfinished projects, lost opportunities, and fluctuating self-worth. It’s really clear that being motivated is not enough. The pitfalls of depending on motivation include:
1. Inconsistent self-worth
When relying on being motivated, self-worth is based on external factors and if external factors change, our sense of self-worth can change
2. Experiencing gaps
Gaps in motivation can make us feel disconnected and can tap into our fears, any length of a gap can lead to more fearful ideas and thoughts
3. Encourages reactionary responses
Away Motivation isn’t designed to help us learn something about ourselves, it is reactionary. By definition is encouraging a focus on something unwanted.
4. Putting our ladder on the wrong wall
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. Being driven by others
Opinions and values of others can drive motivation. This means we may be jumping to the tune of other people’s needs, not our own.
6. Experiencing a lack of motivation
We can feel like failures if we can’t seem to find motivation instead of accepting there is sometimes just a need to reflect.
Embracing the Benefits of Motivation
While acknowledging its transient nature, it’s crucial to recognize the positive aspects of being motivated. Motivation acts as a catalyst for action and drive, propelling us forward in both personal and professional spheres. It’s a dynamic state that can ignite passion, enhance focus, and increase productivity. When we’re motivated, we’re more likely to set ambitious goals, tackle challenges head-on, and persist in the face of obstacles. This state of heightened enthusiasm not only boosts our ability to achieve specific objectives but also contributes to a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. To fully benefit from motivation, it’s essential to understand how to harness it effectively. This involves setting clear, achievable goals, maintaining a positive mindset, and cultivating an environment that supports and reinforces our motivational drivers.
Internal Guidance: A Path to Lasting Fulfillment
Moving beyond the realm of external motivation, embracing internal guidance offers a more sustainable and fulfilling approach to personal growth and achievement. Dan Pink’s exploration of intrinsic motivation in his book “Drive” sheds light on three key components: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. These elements resonate deeply with Maslow’s highest level of self-actualization. Autonomy refers to the freedom to make choices and control our actions, leading to a greater sense of empowerment. Mastery involves the pursuit of excellence and continuous improvement in our skills and knowledge. Purpose, perhaps the most profound, is about aligning our actions with our deeper values and contributing to something larger than ourselves. When we tap into these intrinsic motivators, we move beyond superficial goals and connect with our true passions and potential.
The Transformative Power of Inspired Action
Inspired action, rooted in internal guidance, transcends the limitations of external motivation, offering a richer, more meaningful experience. This approach to action is characterized by several key attributes:
- Win/Win Premise: Inspired action seeks outcomes that benefit both the individual and the wider community.
- Rooted in Self-Worth and Love: It stems from a place of self-respect and compassion, both for oneself and others.
- Aligned with Personal Values: Actions are in harmony with one’s core beliefs and principles.
- Outcome Independence: There is a healthy detachment from specific results, focusing instead on the journey and learning.
- Respect for Personal Desires: It honors one’s aspirations and dreams, acknowledging their importance in our lives.
- Seeking Collective Good: It aims for the betterment of oneself and others, fostering a sense of community and connection.
- Harmonizing Heart and Mind: This approach brings clarity by aligning emotional and rational aspects of decision-making.
- Cultivating Positive Emotions: It nurtures feelings of enthusiasm, gratitude, and appreciation, enhancing overall well-being.
- joyful and Loving Nature: Actions are undertaken with joy and a loving attitude, enriching the experience.
- Mindfulness and Presence: It encourages living in the moment, heightening awareness and appreciation of the present.
- Encouraging Positive Thoughts and Feelings: It fosters a mindset that seeks out the good and the positive in situations.
- Self-Discovery: It aids in uncovering one’s true identity, desires, and purpose.
By choosing inspiration over mere motivation, we embark on a journey that not only leads to achieving our goals but also to discovering our true selves and living a life of deeper meaning and fulfilment. This shift from external drivers to internal inspiration can result in more rewarding and enduring outcomes. The shift demonstrates why being motivated is not enough.
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I help leaders develop self- mastery, helping them to become confident in their own inner guidance.
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