One of the best things you can do for yourself on your journey of self discovery is to work out what drives you. The first step is to identify your values as they provide the fuel for your motivation and the drive behind everything you do in life. If you value something you will always find the motivation and energy to do it. If you don’t value something, you will always struggle to find the motivation and energy to do it.
Your values are what are important to you. They are the broad concepts that guide your decisions in life and form the basis of your character. Your values also determine how you spend your time. For example, if your most important value is health, you will spend your time quite differently from someone whose most important value is career or family.
Values also drive all your motivation. You won’t pursue a course of action unless it relates to something you value at some level. Identifying your values allows you to kick-start your own motivation, set goals that are appropriate and spend time on things that are important to you.
How Your Values Are Formed
Your values come from a number of sources including your family, friends, religion, school, teachers, country and the media. They are also shaped at any time in your life by significant emotional events such as natural disasters, emotional abuse, global depression or war.
Your values change as you grow and evolve. When you change your values, you will also change some of your beliefs and the way you live life.
How To Identify Your Personal Values
Identifying your personal values helps you to:
- Understand why some issues are a problem for you;
- See why some things motivate you and others don’t; and
- Identify and overcome problem areas of your life.
For example, assume you have weight issues. You determine your personal values and find that health and fitness doesn’t even rate a mention within your values. You may have found the reason why you are having weight issues, i.e. health and fitness is not something you value. While this remains the case it will be very difficult for you to lose weight and gain a greater level of health and fitness in your life as you will not have any motivation to do so.
You can identify your values by asking yourself:
- What is important to me in relation to my life, career, relationships etc?
- What would cause me to leave my life, career, relationships, etc?
When you have an understanding of your values, it is useful to see how they affect your motivation.
Your values drive your motivation. If you set goals that are aligned with your values, you will have the motivation to help you achieve them. If you set goals that are not in line with your values, it will be an uphill struggle to achieve them.
When you understand your values and their impact on how you are currently motivating yourself you will have a wonderful insight into why you achieve the results that you do in life. You will also know how to motivate yourself more effectively in the future.
Motivation comes either from within you (intrinsic motivation) or from an external source (extrinsic motivation).
- Extrinsic motivationis provided by some factor external to you. It can take the form of inducements (rewards) or punishments. The rewards can be tangible or intangible (such as praise).
- Intrinsic motivationis evident when you engage in an activity for its own sake without any external incentive. It appears from research done by Albert Bandura that if you have more self efficacy (belief in your own abilities to control your environment) you are more highly intrinsically motivated than other people.
As intrinsic motivation is the only one you can take with you and call upon at any time, it is the most important in terms of self motivation.
Intrinsic motivation can be broken down further into ‘towards’ motivation and ‘away from’ motivation. ‘Towards’ motivation is motivation towards something you want and ‘away from’ motivation is motivation away from something you don’t want.
‘Away From’ Motivation
‘Away from’ motivation is driven by pain. Pain motivated performance is not pleasant, produces inconsistent results and disappears when the pain is no longer present.
‘Away from motivation’ does, however, give you a strong initial motivation to move away from the thing you don’t want in your life. A problem with using this type of motivation is that you wait until things are bad before you take action to change them. Another problem is that you don’t have a target or goal that you are aiming for (just something you are running from) so you don’t tend to achieve results.
Sophia uses ‘away from’ motivation in relation to her weight. As a result she is the classic yo yo dieter. Her process goes like this. Sophia looks in the mirror and sees that she is overweight. She says to herself, ‘I don’t want to be fat anymore’. She then goes on a diet to ensure she is no longer fat. (She is moving away from being fat). At some point she looks in the mirror and sees that she looks fantastic and is no longer fat. As she is no longer fat, she has just lost the source of her motivation (to no longer be fat). As there is no longer any motivation, she no longer stays on the diet and discards her exercise regime. She will not be motivated to do whatever she needs to stay fit and healthy. At some point in the future she will look in the mirror and again form the judgment that she is fat and the process will start all over again.
When you are motivated away from something that you don’t want in life, you tend to focus upon the very thing you don’t want and that is what you attract into your life. As examples:
- If you constantly say to yourself, ‘I don’t want to be broke’, your focus is upon being broke and that is where your unconscious mind will aim.
- If you constantly say to yourself, “I don’t want to be single”, your focus is upon being single and that is where your unconscious mind will aim.
Motivation away from what you don’t want can motivate you, but it doesn’t do so for long and you can’t be sure what results you will achieve. It can give you a fantastic initial boost of energy, but you can never guarantee where you are going to end up as you don’t have a firm direction in mind, just a place you want to get away from. If you use away from motivation in your life, you will tend to create a series of crises to keep yourself motivated.
If you use ‘towards motivation’ you will take action to move towards your goal and you will achieve them more often than not.
‘Towards’ motivation is the best way to motivate yourself. When you are motivated towards what you want, you tend to stay consistently motivated until you achieve your goal (provided you desire it enough).
When you are motivated towards what you want, you constantly set and achieve goals each time stretching yourself further. By using motivation towards what you want you give yourself a far greater chance of achieving what you want out of life.
How Do You Know If The Motivation You Use Is ‘Towards’ Or ‘Away From’ Motivation?
We now know that values drive your motivation and that motivation can be either towards what you want or away from what you don’t want. Now it is time to review your values to discover whether the underlying motivation for each of your values is:
- towards what you want; or
- away from what you don’t want.
To determine whether the underlying motivation for each value is ‘towards’ or ‘away from’ ask yourself, “Why is that value important to me?” then listen to your self-talk and note what you say to yourself. The clues to whether you are using towards or away from motivation for that value are:
You are probably using ‘towards’ motivation if you:
- talk about what you do want
- don’t use comparisons in your explanation (better than, worse than, more than)
You are probably using ‘away from’ motivation if you:
- talk about what you don’t want
- make comparisons in your explanation or use words such as ‘better than’, ‘more than’, ‘less than’, ‘best’ etc. (These show you are unhappy with where you currently are)
- use words such as ‘must’, ‘need’, ‘have to’, ‘got to’ etc
As an example, assume that ‘money’ was your highest value in relation to your career. You then ask yourself, “Why is the value ‘compensation’ important to me in relation to my career?”
If your answer is, “Because I want to make a lot of money and live in luxury”, the response would indicate ‘towards’ motivation for this value.
If your answer is, “Because I don’t want to be broke and I have to be able to pay my bills”, the response would indicate ‘away from’ motivation for this value.
Your chances of achieving goals relating to ‘money’ are much greater if you are using towards motivation.
If you find that you have identified ‘away from’ motivation in relation to any of your values, you will find:
- This area of your life is one where you will experience the most difficulties;
- You will not be achieving the results in this area of your life that you might wish; and
- There are unresolved issues to be cleared away and healed in relation to this area of your life before you will experience the success you desire.
This is wonderful information to have as it identifies areas of your life for you to focus upon.
How To Overcome Problems With Motivation
We all experience problems with motivation at some point. Those times when you just can’t seem to find the desire to do things you know you should. The problems can arise because:
- You are low on energy. There are some easy things I’m sure you do when you are feeling ‘low’ to get your energy back. Remember too that sometimes in life, you need and deserve a rest.
- The thing you are aiming towards is not something you value. (In this case, question whether you should be exerting your energy in that direction); or
- You have a problem with your motivation strategy (see below).
If it is your motivation strategy that is causing you challenges, identify which part of the strategy is causing the problem and then use one of the following techniques to assist you to change it. If you are not motivated because:
- You feel overwhelmed, break the goal down into smaller steps and do them one at a time.
- You are only using ‘away from’ motivation, identify where you are aiming and focus upon the positive outcomes of attaining it.
- You feel obliged to pursue the goal, either accept the goal is not for you and let it go or focus upon the positive outcomes you will get from achieving the goal.
- You are scared, identify what could go wrong and what you would do if it did.
If you understand your values, you will understand what motivates you and why. If you discover whether you are using towards or away from motivation in different areas of your life, you will have answers for why some parts of your life are successful and others are not. If you use one of the above techniques to overcome common motivation problems… and you take action… you should be on your way to success!
(Based on an article published by Petris Lapis, Director of Petris Lapis Pty Ltd, in Ezine articles)