Motivation (a few definitions):
(1) A psychological concept with no single universally accepted definition, but which organisational sociologists believe concerns the determinants of intent, effort and tenacity, factors that push or pull us as individuals to behave in a particular manner.
(2) Feelings that drive someone toward a particular objective.
(3) The push of the mental forces to accomplish an action. Unsatisfied needs motivate. On the biological level basic human needs of food, shelter and survival are powerful motivators. On the psychological level people need to be understood, affirmed, validated and appreciated. On the business level motivation occurs when people perceive a clear business reason for pursuing a transfer of knowledge or practices.
If you look up the word Motivation you’ll find many contrasting, and almost contradictory definitions of what it is (I found over fifty in five minutes).
It seems that even those who define it aren’t exactly sure what it is.
It is definitely (in my opinion anyway) the most over-used (and mis-understood) word on the personal development landscape.
We all kinda know what it is… but at the same time, we don’t.
It seems that motivation is (represented by) different things for different people.
I just asked someone (a random person in the gym) what their definition of motivation was and they said, “something which makes us do stuff”.
I said “well fear can make us do stuff… so is fear motivation?”
“Er yeh, guess so.”
“Well vanity makes us do stuff… so what about vanity as a motivator?”
“Yeh.. guess so.”
The reality is that we are motivated by many things.
And the same things.
But what we’re talking about in this post is the motivation that helps us create that forever change, that amazing life, that incredible body, that spectacular relationship, that new and improved reality… not the motivation that sees us standing in front of the fridge an hour after our dinner.
For many people, motivation is an emotional state which helps them get certain things done (for a while).
“I felt motivated to go for a run this morning.”
“That experience gave me the motivation (changed my thinking and emotional state) to create new habits.”
“Whenever I read Craig’s amazing, incredible, insightful, clever, witty, life-changing posts (okay, I over did it), I feel inspired and motivated to turn my life around.
The problem with motivation being (essentially) an emotional state (or a place we get to in our head) is that it’s temporary. And when the motivation disappears (which it will because our emotions and mental state fluctuate from day to day and moment to moment), then so do the new-found (desirable) behaviours.
In other words, we lose momentum.
We stop doing what we need to do to create the outcomes (realities) we so desperately desire.
For others, motivation is simply a reason to (have to) do something.
“I’ve gotta work ’cause I have five kids…. I’m not particularly excited about that… don’t love it… just needs to be done.”
“I exercise three times a week because I don’t want to die from a heart attack like my father did.”
The truth is that most of us alternate between can’t-be-bothered, kinda-motivated and totally-in-the-zone… for much of our lives. Many of us step in and out of ‘motivation’ on a daily (if not, hourly) basis.