We are motivated to move toward that which we have defined as valuable. Food, water, shelter, family…are some general standards that most of us are motivated to obtain. We clearly hold those in high esteem. What about other activities though? What motivates people to do work harder than others? What allows them to see more value in that work? And how do some people stay motivated when faced with adversity, or loss of interest, or other changes that mitigate drive?
The subtleties within how different we are all driven, shouldn’t be overlooked. We all contain multitudes. We all have a variety of diverse insecurities, and our moral and value systems are very diverse at a micro-level. Sure, we’re all headed to the gym to ‘get in better shape’, but how we’ve defined getting in shape for ourselves, and why we want to get in shape, reveal a wide difference among us.
The definition of motivation speaks about the ‘reasons’ why people do what they do. I attribute those reasons to that value scale that I spoke of. But I know there are are many individuals that want to be doing something…they see something as valuable…but they don’t pursue it. Why is that?
Let’s say they want to lose weight. They know that all that snacking and couching isn’t going to lead to that. They know they really need to be eating healthy, and staying active. They want to be doing that. The weight loss is valuable to them, and they are knowledgeable about the different behaviors corresponding with that, and their clear and direct results. Why are some still motivated to stay where they don’t want to be?
One reason is that usually the right decision, the one that will bring the most value, and the one that will provide the most meaning and purpose…is the one that is the most difficult to execute. It’s easier to sit on the couch, at least in the short term. Remember, we are animals. And animals will take the path of least resistance as a default. When we envision a forest with a path through it…we understand why it makes all the sense to stay on the path. There are no thistles or brambles…no logs to step over…and we have more of a sure footing.
What would motivate anyone to step off the path? Well, someone who puts a lot of value in who they could be in the future. It’s sacrifice of the now. The scheduling, and purchasing of food, the leaving the couch, the driving to the gym, and the actual workouts themselves…are much more challenging than putting Breaking Bad on and grabbing Cheetos. Oh god, Cheetos are so good. Sorry…sidetracked. Anyway, if we choose to make the right decision, we actually lose a little in the short term. But, the payoff is immense. So much good comes in the long term. The individual wins the marathon…and the motivation has a compounding effect.
When you’re motivated enough to behave in a way that makes your life just a little bit better, you find yourself in a better position for the next decision. You feel a little healthier, you’re proud of your behavior, and that motivates you to follow through with that more challenging option again and again. A person that willingly takes on a challenge, completes that challenge, and then reflects on it…becomes an extraordinarily more motivated person. They have more reason. More value.
A side effect that this value, reason…motivation has is that it has a great influence on others. When you are motivated, and have reasons to behave in positive ways…you put those close to you at ease. Your family doesn’t have to worry about you as much. Folks can use less energy on you. Your actions also inspire and motivate others to make the right decisions. Your family becomes stronger, more connected, and inspired. This spreads to their peers. It spreads to your community, and city and state. Your motivated behaviors positively influence more than you know.
Unfortunately, negative and unmotivated behaviors have the opposite effect…and have a worse impact than you think.
Don’t think for a minute that your behaviors are trivial or meaningless. They are changing the world for the better or worse…more than you know…maybe more than you want to know.
Get in this damn race. Think of it as a marathon. Make really motivated decisions. Accept that they really do matter. It’s the path of upward mobility. It’s being honest with yourself…which is authenticity. It’s progress. It’s meaning and purpose. It’s motivation.