The debate about which came first the chicken or the egg can also apply to motivation and action. Do we have to be motivated before taking action or do we sometimes act, even when we don’t feel motivated to do so? Nike’s slogan, “Just do it,” encourages us to do before feeling motivated. While that may work in certain situations, there is no denying that being motivated works magic in moving us towards a desired goal.
Motivation is a personal undertaking. What works for one person, might not work for another. What works in one situation, might not work in another. In thinking about what motivates us, some themes have emerged. Do any of these resonate with you?
- Time Constraints – The pressure of time and imposed deadlines like friends arriving, packing for vacation or completing a report, can motivate us to reach our goals quickly and on time. The fear of not getting something done in time forces us to finish.
- Self Development – The desire to look younger, get thinner, feel healthier, be smarter or get more organized can motivate us to make the changes needed in order to improve our self-esteem.
- Peer Pressure – While we may not like to admit that we’re influenced by what others think or do, there are times we are motivated to act because of our peers. For example, I’ve noticed that when one friend starts getting organized it often motivates their friends to begin organizing too.
- Extreme Pain – Being in physical or emotional distress can be one of the strongest motivators for change. Not all motivation stems from positive feelings. Sometimes, the negative ones force us over the edge to action because we just don’t want to be in pain any longer.
- Life Changes – Significant life events such as marriage, births, deaths, divorce, illness and children leaving the nest or coming back home are huge catalysts for introspection and change. Their dramatic nature can cause us to make other big changes.
- Simple Rewards – Sometimes a plain reward is enough to motivate us. I know we’re humans and not animals, but I remember how food played a huge role in motivating our dog, Norton. His love of food was so intense that he’d do almost anything for a “treat.” Sometimes food motivates me too. In the summer especially, the thought of a delicious ice cream cone from our local shop, The Blue Pig can motivate me to complete a project. Using other rewards like taking a bike ride, walking by the river, enjoying coffee with a friend or getting a massage can motivate us to complete our goals too.
- Love Driven – Sometimes we are motivated because of our loved ones. Perhaps we want to get our affairs in order to make things easier for our family when we’re gone. Maybe we want to declutter our homes to create less stress and more harmony at home. Doing things for the people we love can be a strong motivator.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about what motivates you. When you get stuck, what propels you forward?