All too often we think that a goal, by itself, motivates us. If we want to make ten thousand in investments, that’s it—we just think of that and get motivated. If we want to lose eighty pounds, we keep thinking about how great it will be and that motivates us.
However, there are traits that motivate all of us, little things such as a desire for security or fear of failure, etc. It’s important to not only get in touch with what motivates you but to be sure you’re motivated by the things that will keep you on the way and lead you to the greatest success possible.
Material vs. Spiritual
It’s fascinating to watch people on their quests. Sometimes they are motivated by seemingly-contradictory items. And that’s not bad. There are various things that can motivate people, and I’ll divide them into the material and spiritual categories.
Material motivations include money, prestige, bragging rights, etc. Spiritual–although I’m using the word differently from how it’s sometimes used–refers to things like a sense of accomplishment, feeling you’ve conquered a fear, increased freedom or leisure, etc. One big spiritual motivation can be a feeling that you’ve become who you’re supposed to be.
It isn’t the case that one of these categories is better than others. It’s just that some types of motivation might not be as sustainable as others. What if you want to do a particular thing to impress or get in the favor of a boyfriend of girlfriend, and then the relationship ends? What if you feel a drive to be able to buy a sports car and it fades with time and age? Things like a sense of accomplishment or a need for freedom won’t go away.
Therefore, it’s not a bad idea to layer these types of motivations. There’s nothing wrong with having short-term things like money and possessions or bragging rights. Those absolutely work. But be sure to match each material goal with spiritual goals.
Positive not Negative
You may or may not be familiar with Fredrick Herzberg’s research on motivating factors. He identified important motivators for people in the workplace. These include responsibility, achievement, recognition, and growth. These things, Herzberg concluded, bring satisfaction.
But a surprising point Herzberg made that I want to explore is that the way to satisfaction can’t be to just get rid of dissatisfaction. You can’t be motivated to do things that will take away negative factors in your life. Note how all the traits listed above, increased freedom, etc., were positive, not negatives. It wasn’t not having to slave away at a desk all day, but having freedom—sitting in a hammock, hiking, being able to travel, etc. Just not having to slave away won’t make you happy, so they shouldn’t be what motivates you. It would be a shame to meet your goal and not feel what you want to.
In any case, a takeaway is that you need to be clear on your goals and points of motivation. Stick to them and manicure them. They are an important part of your overall process.