When it comes to motivation, simply “kinda” wanting to do something won’t get you very far. For example, you can’t kinda want to lose weight and think that’s enough motivation to see measurable future change. Similarly, you can’t kinda want to do better in school, quit smoking, or maximize your athletic talents. The reality is that when it comes to making significant changes in life, we need a lot more motivation than a casual interest and attitude.
Examining human motivation
Motivation is the reason for our actions, and dictates the direction of our behaviors. For example, we are motivated daily to meet our basic needs — food to survive, sleep to rest our bodies, and security measures to keep us safe. Beyond our basic shared needs, we begin to think and operate more uniquely, largely based on our own wants, needs, and interests. Regardless of our individual life interests, we again experience shared challenges when it comes to human motivation — specifically, what actually happens that allows us to move from a thought (desire), to taking action steps toward reaching a goal? While it’s nice to think about reaching future goals in life, it’s the action step that really counts — and it’s the precise triggering moment between thought and action that largely determines one’s motivation and level of life achievement.
So what is it that turns thoughts into action? We can assume that the vast majority of people would like to live a healthy life, find value in what they do, and refrain from bad habits, but why is it that so many people struggle to do these things even when they seemingly want to do them?
The 2 factors that determine action and movement
As mentioned earlier, it’s nearly impossible to cull legitimate, ongoing action toward a goal through casual motivation. In fact, I have discovered that short of feeling truly inspired or desperate human beings generally just remain creatures of habit, only wishing that they could get motivated enough to change course in life. Allow me to break this idea down further:
- Inspiration. Often inspiration comes from seeing or actually knowing someone who you feel is equally or even less capable than you accomplish something. For example, you might think about running a marathon one day, but the thought stays just that — a thought. Later, however, an otherwise average friend of yours who never run marathons before tells you that she is training for a marathon — it is in these moments in life where we tend to think to ourselves, “If she can do it, why can’t I?” Of course, inspiration can come from many different places, but the point is there needs to be something that moves thinking from kinda wanting to do something to being inspired to do something.
- Desperation. While we don’t like to think about life in terms of desperation, we also know that when we feel desperate, we often take action to fix whatever it is we feel desperate about. This kind of motivation can come from a scary health report from the doctor, a couple missed job opportunities, or even an extra notch on our belt suggesting we have gained weight. Often in these examples action takes place almost immediately, as we know we have crossed the line from thinking about doing something to now needing to do it.
Human motivation is a fascinating construct to study. While there are certainly individual differences among us when it comes to motivation, there are also fairly common triggers that get all of us moving toward taking future action toward a goal. My professional experience has shown me that when we are truly inspired or genuinely desperate we become much more open to actually moving on ideas that have been on our minds for some time. For these reasons I think it’s important to try and find leverage when you can — what inspires you today? Similarly, are there things happening right now creating a sense of urgency? Both will move you from the comfort zone, and hopefully toward positive future goal attainment.
Looking for more help? Click here to learn more.