What’s your motivation?

And is it really that different to mine?

Achieve more of what matters to you

If you google motivationyou’ll see that there are more than one thousand million results listed.

So, let’s save you from having to read all of those posts and summarise the issues that matter, right here 😉

Do you need to know this?

Well, if you’re already achieving everything you want in your life, then possibly not.

Otherwise, this could help you (or someone you care about) a lot because, whilst your biggest life goals won’t be easy to achieve, you’ll find more energy to reach for them – if they’re aligned to your fundamental motivators.

So, what are your fundamental motivators?

Well, the good news is that they’re no different to mine or to those of anyone else.

Sure, a detailed motivational profile might tell you about a long list of motivators  – and show how you’re different to those you work for, or who work for you, or your loved ones. And understanding those differences might help you manage yourself better – and build better relationships with others.

But at a fundamental level, it helps to understand that we’re all driven by the same three things – as outlined (with research evidence to support them) in Dan Pink’s, appropriately named, book, ‘Drive – the surprising truth about what motivates us’


In a nutshell, we’re all looking for Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose… or, as behavioural Psychologist, Scott Geller describes them: Competence, Choice and Community.

Interestingly, Geller added a fourth motivator, ‘consequences’ to his list, although you could say that consequences simply move you towards (or away from) one of your primary goals. (Mastery, autonomy or purpose)

Indeed, you could even simplify this further by saying that consequences are everything.

That’s certainly the conclusion of Economics writers Stephen Levitt and Stephen Dubner who, in their book ‘Superfreakonomics’ distilled years of detailed research about human behaviour into this simple statement:

People respond to incentives … although not necessarily in ways that are predictable.

And that’s a great insight.SuperFreakonomics

However, I think we should expand their motivational rule of life (just a little) to add in the dimension of time.

So, my personal summary of what drives people to ‘do stuff’ would be this:

People respond to incentives, though not always in predictable ways …

… and hardly at all, if they’re a long way off.

With motivation – ‘time’ is key

There’s no question that the time to our goals affects our motivation… and especially on our bigger life goals.

So, we can help ourselves – or anyone else we want to motivate – if we’re open and honest about this fact.

It really doesn’t matter whether we’re working on our wealth or our health… we can’t solve a big problem overnight.

We need time, and lots of it, to achieve those big life goals. And that’s a challenge – because most of us don’t like waiting for results, most of the time.

That much is obvious with children – as has been proven many times with the famous ‘marshmallow test’

If you’ve not yet seen this one (and even if you have) watch it now.

It’s a brilliantly funny example of childhood impatience.

And let’s just remember that at a different scale, we all – children and adults – prefer quick and easy results.

Indeed, our impatience is such a challenge for us that I devoted a whole chapter to the issue in my first book, ‘Who can you trust about money?’

But I don’t want to test your patience today. So, I’ll draw this Insight to a close here 😉

We can build on these motivational foundations next time.

The bottom line 

First, at a fundamental level, we’re all looking for the same four ‘big things’ in life:

  1. Relationships that work – with colleagues, friends and family
  2. Autonomy (aka freedom)
  3. Mastery of the activities we undertake.
  4. And a Purpose to those activities.

So, if you like mnemonics, we’re all looking to R.A.M.P. things up in our lives and setting goals related to those things will motivate us more.

Second, we all struggle (to some degree) with the fact that big goals take a lot of time and effort to achieve.

So, it makes sense to break big goals down into ‘bite-sized’ chunks… and to focus on the efforts we put into our work (or learning) rather than the end results.

What we do, day in and day out, is really all we can control… but we can be smarter about it and here are seven ways to achieve more of your goals.

Coming next… 

Next time, we’ll explore why we often get stuck on our big life goals, even if we understand the points above. kids stuck in the snowAnd I’ll offer you ideas for getting unstuck, simply by changing three words you use every day…

(I’ve distilled these proven ideas from the works of world-leading Psychologists and Sports Coaches)

Stay in touch

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Either way – I wish you well and hope to see you back here again soon

Thanks for dropping in …


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