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Let’s start with the basics. What is motivation?
Motivation is a reason to do something. What could be a good reason to do anything?
Motivation is a tricky subject. However, it is as important for our happiness as human beings that we really need to understand what gets us going. If we don’t understand what makes us tick, we cannot operate.
Although motivation may differ slightly from people to people, there is foundational motivation which stays the same across the world. Especially in hard times, it gets quite difficult to motivate ourselves to act. Some of the things that may motivate us in good times, may not work in hard times.
In good times, there are rewards for our actions and those rewards act as motivators. They nudge us to work. However, in hard times, those rewards may be missing and we need to find other ways to motivate us.
The purpose of this piece is to help you understand motivation and find it on will. To be honest, there will be times where you will find it hard to find motivation and it is okay. We are human being and we are not infallible.
What are the different types of motivation?
Fundamentally there are only two kinds of motivation and is sought by two different kinds of people.
1. External motivation
External motivation comes from sources outside of you. The kind of people who are externally driven need external motivation. External motivation comes in different types and forms:
Fear: Fear is a kind of motivation which is instilled by others to make you achieve the goals they want you to achieve. For example, your boss could tell you that if you do not achieve a certain sales target, you will not get promotion. This would make you work hard and try to get that promotion. Fear is a negative form of motivation. Even in the education system, getting an F grade and feeling embarrassed in front of the entire class is fear based motivation.
Physical Reward: When rewards are an external form of motivation, they come from our parents, bosses or partners. For example, a chocolate as a reward for kids for good behavior is a positive form of external motivation.
Love: Love can also be a form of external motivation, especially when relationships are involved. For example, you may see it how dogs wag their tail and expect to be patted with love for good behavior. It is not just dogs. Human beings crave love, to be touched and would do a lot of things just to be rewarded with love. Love is external form of motivation and as we will see further in this piece, it is also an internal form of motivation.
Monetary Reward: Money drives everyone is some way or the other and is one of the most powerful ways of external motivation in the corporate world. The origin of the salary package owes its origin to this kind of motivation only. Salary increments, bonus are all examples of monetary reward. For self-employed people and entrepreneurs, profit and revenue is a form of monetary reward that drives people to act.
Status in society: People who are externally motivated care about what people think of them. To them, conforming to what most people do, so that they are respected in other people’s eyes, matters. They would go to any length to create a life which is respected by the society. It is a purely external motivation driven by what others expect of you.
2. Internal motivation
Internal motivation comes from inside of you and it the most important form of motivation. The greatest people in the world are internally driven and do not care about external sources of motivation, or what other people think of them.
There are several sources of internal motivation:
Purpose: Having purpose in your actions is one of the most important was to motivate yourself. If you have a purpose behind your actions, there would be underlying meaning in your life and you would find yourself driven to achieve it.
Money: Money is not just a source of external motivation. Money is also a source of internal motivation. When you make money doing something you believe in, it drives you to do more of it. Money is good and money is bad. It depends on how you use it. If you use money to fuel your purpose, it is a great source of internal motivation. When you use it to impress others, it is an external form of motivation. For more on money, you may read this post.
Passion: Passion makes you care about what you do. It makes you care about your work and your relationships. You care because you are passionate about them. You don’t do things to impress other people but because your passion drives you.
Happiness: Happiness is one of the foundational reasons around the world to do anything. Kids do a lot of stupid things because it makes them happy. Adults try to find meaningful work, fall in love because it makes them happy. If you do things that make you happy, you will constantly find yourself motivated. When you find happiness from your work, you won’t need to see motivation anymore but you would have found it.
Personal failure: Personal failure is an internal form of negative motivation. You do not want to fail in life. You want to fight for your happiness. You want to not give up because giving up is failure and you will not allow yourself to be a failure. As long as you keep trying, you have a chance at success. So, keep trying. Get back to work.
Now, most of us need both external and internal forms of motivation on a given day. You cannot move from the bed without being internally motivated. You want to make the day useful and be happy. So, you leave the bed. That is internal motivation. You are scared of what your partner may think of you if you don’t get up. That is external motivation. So, motivation comes in different forms every day and we need both of them.
As you may have observed, there is also an overlap between different sources of motivation. Money could be an external and internal motivator, depending on how you look at it. If you make money to impress others, it is an external form of motivation. If you make money to fulfill your purpose and use it as fuel, it is an internal form of motivation. Similarly, love that you seek from others is external motivation, while when you do things out of love, that is internal motivation.
What are the other sources of motivation?
Books: It is difficult to classify books and stories of other people as internal or external form of motivation. For example, the story of Jeff Bezos may inspire you to pursue entrepreneurship. Is the motivation external or internal? You want to be internally driven by watching his story. So, the line is blurred here. However, it is one of the most powerful forms of motivation in the world. Read books and watch videos of great life stories. It may drive you internally to make something significant of your life.
There could be several other forms of motivation that we haven’t been able to cover in this piece. Please let us know what motivates you in the comment section.
The important thing to understand is that internal motivation is more powerful and long lasting than external motivation. Especially in hard times, when they may be no external motivation available you will need to access your innermost sources of motivation like your desire to make something of your life regardless of the number of obstacles you face.
It is on us to pick ourselves from bed, from the field, dust ourselves off and keep going. Life is hard and it will test us till we live. It gets easier once we have achieved a certain level of success since we can then access the external and internal memory available to strengthen ourselves when we feel weak.
Whatever motivates you, you need to find it. There is no other way since failure is NOT an option.
Thank you for reading.
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I appreciate the time you spent in reading the blog and wish you happiness.