How we are motivated
It helps to start with a good and obvious question: How are we motivated? We are motivated in two distinct ways: internally or externally and towards something or away from something.
What are the differences?
Knowing your motivational style
Firstly, the easiest way to identify your own preference is by reflecting on your habits. What types of words do you tend to use? Do you use want, can or will (positive and towards) or do you tend towards don’t want, won’t or cannot (negative and away from)?
This insight helps us write SMART goals in a way that naturally aligns with our individual thinking styles. As a result, this creates an unconscious motivator. Let’s use household spending to illustrate this principle:
Achieve a 35% reduction in monthly discretionary spending within the next 90 days and sustain it for the following 180 days.
This example is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Wait, what if there is a better way to leverage motivation to achieve goals? There is! It’s the PECSAW model. It builds on the SMART approach with positive and worthwhile linkages, for instance. Applying the enhanced model to the cost savings example, we get something like this:
I will set aside the cash savings from a 35% reduction in monthly discretionary expenditures within the next 9 months. The result: it funds a two-week dream cruise in Asia.
It looks similar to a SMART objective, however now framed positively, worthwhile and as self-achievable.
Motivation in practice
Beyond language, we need to understand how we recharge our motivation batteries.
Some individuals use feedback and validation from others. Examples could include applause after a speech or audience laughter for a stand-up comedian. These are external motivators. The result: motivation to do more because of the independent feedback loop.
Other individuals extract motivation from within: they are purpose driven. A couple of examples of this approach could be:
- Driven to continue losing weight after a weekly scale victory as part of a lifestyle change, or
- Feeling inspired to help more vulnerable families escape dire situations after experiencing the impact from helping a family today.
These are internal motivators: one’s own feelings and beliefs drive ongoing effort and passion.
Understanding this aspect of motivation serves as a means by which leaders can extract the best from each team member. Personalization is naturally more powerful than a one size fits all approach!
Leveraging knowledge about motivation also allows each of us to use the power of the unconscious mind to achieve goals, perfect skills and realize dreams!
Share your views and ideas on this topic below or sign into the Member Section to engage in the discussion.
Give it a try!
 Reg Connolly, 1999