A Word on Motivation

It just occurred to me that maybe I’ve never really understood “motivation.” Oh sure, I’ve learned that it’s better to be inspired than motivated and better to motivated than coerced. But what is motivation, really?

Motivation isn’t something real or actual. It’s a word that describes what happens when one puts a motive into action. (A motive is a reason for action, or incentive.)

Stay with me and I’ll try to explain the distinction at play here.

When we’re “motivated” we act in a specific way, to a specific end, with some degree of energy. But so often we just can’t get “motivated.” How many times have you heard that? I’ve said it plenty, and have heard it more. But it’s a word that doesn’t serve us. If we understood the motives of our actions, or that we need to have a motive to act, then it makes much more sense — at least to me.

Think of it another way: being motivated is acting in accordance with one’s values and goals. Or, having reasons or incentives that create action. That’s the key. Without reasons or incentives, there is no action. So, one does not get or find motivation, per se, they are motivated because the have a motive that causes them to move.

We make use of this by getting clear about what our motives are. What do we value that we want to create or see more of in our lives?

We can also use this concept to reverse-engineer the things we don’t want in our lives. Everything we have, or don’t have, is there for a reason; because we either created it by some means, or lack of action, or because we neglected to pursue something or nurture what we do want. That’s a round-about way of saying that there are no accidents and everything can be understood in the light of action or in-action. I know that challenging to read, but it’s a truth that will transform your life.

What are your motives? What gets you moving, both in thought and deed? Ask yourself what motivates the different areas and activities of your life. Find answers, assume that everything you have, or don’t have, can be understood in the context of motives (and remember, desiring the absence of something can motivate). The more clear you get, the happier and more effective you’ll be.


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