I was asked this question while having a discussion with a friend about how she can’t seem to figure out what motivates her husband. It made me think about not only what motivates me but also my immediate family. My friend mentioned that being recognized for her efforts was a motivating factor for her. I would say I am motivated when I am either doing something that is creative or challenges my brain, when I know I am doing something that will make a difference for someone else, or by the sense of completion of a task. I seem to get great satisfaction out of being able to check something off my “to do” list, and that gets me through a lot of tasks.
Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone else in my family can say that. I have one child who doesn’t seem to have the slightest desire to finish anything except maybe the book he has in his hand. If I ask him to do something else, he always wants to finish what he is doing at that very moment first, such as the chapter he is reading or the level of the video game he is playing, but that’s it. There are so many unfinished projects he has started all over the house, it’s not even funny. I wish I could figure out what does motivate him, actually, since it seems like all I do is try to find ways to motivate him to get things done, even basic tasks like taking a shower. My other two are a little more self-sufficient with getting their things done and are probably more motivated by a sense of accomplishment. My husband seems to be motivated when he is working on something for work that is challenging his brain to solve a problem or come up with a new technique for something. More menial tasks like making phone calls and straightening his workbench area – forget it.
The hardest things for me to find motivation for are things that involve overcoming the lack of will power, like when I am trying to lose weight. It’s hard to find the motivation not to give in and eat something I shouldn’t or to just skip exercising. I’ve tried many things like buying myself flowers every few pounds and leaving pictures of when I was thinner out as reminders, but it’s incredibly difficult to find anything that will overcome a lack of will power. Finding motivation to change negative behaviors that are instinctive because we have been doing them for as long as we can remember is also very challenging.
Some people are motivated by money or gifts or being able to do something special as a reward, all of which are extrinsic or external motivators. Other people like myself do better with intrinsic motivators such as feeling that sense of accomplishment and pride, knowing you reached a goal, or knowing you made a difference. It’s easy to reward our kids with extrinsic motivators like paying them money for good grades, but I think that sets them up for needing extrinsic motivators the rest of their life. If we don’t teach them about setting goals and feeling that sense of accomplishment, then I think we are doing them a disservice. And I think that will only continue to get more difficult as we, as a society, seem to be increasingly more focused on how things look on the outside instead of how they make us feel on the inside. How many decisions are being made nowadays based on how many likes or views something will get when it is recorded and posted on social media sites? Too many, in my opinion.
The important thing is that we find some healthy way to be self-motivated because “motivation is the driving force between success and growth.” So back to my original question…what motivates you?
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