Understanding your motivations is important

In previous weeks I have argued that it is useful to know what you believe, because what you believe sets the limits on what you do. In my view, the second important element in getting forward movement is motivation. If your motivation is strong enough you will take the action you need to take. If it isn’t, you won’t.

Motives are those magic things that induce us to take action, motivations impel us, motivations push us to initiate something. No motivation, no action.

Understanding your motivations is a key part of your wider self awareness. However, understanding motivation and helping readers understand their own motivations was the topic which caused me the most grief in writing Design for Life™. The big question for me was – how can I use Design for Life™ to help people find enough motivation to take some action?

We all know that most of us go through life wanting to do things but somehow we don’t quite get around to making them happen. It seemed to me that this must be largely a motivation failure. In situations where we are motivated (we want to do the thing) but we aren’t motivated enough, nothing happens. There is an underlying choice here (even if it is a semi conscious one). We either choose not to do it or choose to do other things instead.

In sales theory (why do people buy things?) people’s motivations are divided into two categories – rational and emotional. Rational motivations are those things that are underpinned by logic (the saving of time, money, effort) and emotional motivations are to do with us wanting to feel a certain way when we own the product (pride, superiority, satisfaction).

In the writing of Design for Life™ I began to understand that developing an awareness of motivations is not easy. We operate at a semi conscious level most of the time. We are only half aware of why we are doing things: “I’ve simply got to visit my relatives every month” or “I really must clean the house this weekend”. We do these things because we believe (notice that word!) that they are the right things to do. This starts me asking – is your reasoning about what is the right thing to do based on reason or emotion? Try this during the week – write a list of what you are going to do over the next few days. Then go down the list and describe what your motivation(s) is for doing each task. If you don’t have a clear emotional or rational explanation, dig deeper to discover the real reason(s) you do things. Don’t take this too seriously, just have fun exploring what makes you tick.

You can only become fully aware of your motivations (or lack of them) over time. If you had a copy of Design for Life™, you could note them down every day! You can order a copy of Design for Life™ very easily. Just go to the Shop.

John Cornbill