abstract multi-color painting by Britt Bravo

Finding Self-Motivation: Accept What Drives You

Is there a work goal you’d like to achieve, but you’re not able to find the self-motivation to do it? Instead of feeling badly about it, think of it as an opportunity to understand and accept what drives you.

In a past post, Make Progress on Your Goals: 13 Questions to Ask, one of the questions was, “What drives me?” If you keep setting a goal, but aren’t taking even the smallest step towards it, this is a great question to ask, especially if you really listen to the answer.

Sadly, sometimes people are embarrassed or ashamed of what drives them. They try to find self-motivation from sources that work for other people. And then when that doesn’t work, they feel frustrated that they aren’t making progress towards their goals.

For example, they might feel like they should be driven by service, when they are driven by money. Or feel like they should be driven by money, when they are driven by service.

Here are some of the motivations I see people wishing they were driven more or less by:

Adventure vs. safety

Beauty vs. utilitarianism

Community vs. independence

Flexibility vs. organization

Others vs. self

Standing out vs. fitting in

Variety vs. consistency

One of the keys to finding self-motivation is to understand what unique combination of factors drives you.

None are better than another. And most people are a mix. Think of your motivation like a delicious recipe for chocolate chip cookies. Can you tweak that recipe? Absolutely! But the foundational elements of what makes it yummy will be close to the original recipe.

Sometimes when people are stalled, it’s because their motivation is like a chocolate chip cookie recipe, but they’re trying to be a salad. A regular chocolate chip cookie can — if it wants to — become a gluten free, sugar-free, vegan cookie, but it can’t become a salad. It just can’t.

What is your unique self-motivation recipe?

Think about a time you set a goal and achieved it. Write down the “recipe” of what motivated you. Now apply it to a goal you’re struggling with. I bet it will help you create something delicious!

P.S. The above is based on my experience with clients. If you want to learn about the science of motivation, there’s lots of info out there like this Forbes article by Sujan Patel, The Science Behind Motivation.

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