Motives + You

Motives + You


“Motivation gets you started. Habit keeps you going.”
Motivation is defined as the driving force which helps or causes us to achieve our goals. Everyone wants it, but not everyone’s got it…
Are you a “wanter” or a “haver” of motivation? Are you not even sure how you are motivated? Well, let’s find out!

When you type the word “motivation” into Google search, you get about 102,000,000 results after about 0.09 seconds of searching. When you type in “motivational quotes,” about 11,200,000 results populate in about 0.04 seconds time. In fact, when you type only the letter “m” into Google search and it drops down its top ten best guesses as to what you’ll be searching for, the first seven have to do with motivation (like motivational sports quotes, funny motivational quotes, motivational poems, and motivational work quotes). Clearly motivation and being or getting motivated is important to people.

Steven Reiss of Ohio State University stated that, “Motives are reasons people hold for initiating and performing voluntary behavior. They indicate the meaning of human behavior, and they may reveal a person’s values. Motives often affect a person’s perception, cognition, emotion, and behavior.”

Motivation is, as you most likely deduced, directly related to our motives. This is why it can be so tricky for one person to get another person honestly interested and involved in doing something. For instance, let’s say Joe wants to have Sally help him pick out the new sound system for his car. For reasons that are motivating to Joe, he is very excited about this. Sally, however, is not. If Joe wants Sally to be excited too, he needs to point out things about picking out the system that would be motivators for her. So, maybe Joe needs to wow her with amps and gadget stats – if she’s into technology. Or, maybe he needs to appeal to her creative edge by asking her to help find one that looks cool as well as being functional.

Either way, Joe would need to know Sally pretty well – and probably does if he’s asking her to help trick out his car – to be able to figure out how to get her interested in helping him.

Now, many of us are not particularly fantastic at getting others – who are not like-minded with us – motivated because we talk about what we find interesting or important, not what they might find of value or purpose. In fact, we are often pretty terrible at even getting ourselves motivated! Why is that? Simply because we often do not look at the tasks at hand in a manner that can be motivating to us – especially if it’s something we don’t really want to do. Of course, we start this trend of negative attitude at an early age. For example, when Joe was young and told to clean his room, he did not think about the fact that when he was done he would have the rest of Saturday to play. Nor did he consider that making his mother happy would bring rewards. Instead, Joe was grumpy and took two hours doing a job that could have taken about twenty minutes. Luckily for Joe, though, as he got older, he found ways to motivate himself and therefore have a better attitude and a more positive outlook on what he’s doing.

So, what do you need to do to motivate yourself? Well, for starters, figure out what is naturally motivating to you. Do this by looking at what your motives are for doing the things you already do successfully on a regular basis. What makes you shower? (Assuming you do.) Do you shower for yourself or so that others around you will be happy?

Still lost, uncertain, or shaky? It’s okay – people have been trying to analyze and categorize motives for ages. People’s personalities, experiences, and beliefs all make it very challenging. The good news here, however, is that you are only trying to figure out your own motives. To give you a hand, here are the charts of two motive theories that we really like. The first, thanks to George Erdman, former president of EREN Corp., has four basic motive types. The second, which is shown a little further down, lists out sixteen potential motives (Reiss’s 16 Motives). However, if you look closely, most all of them fit into one (some more than one) of the four basic motive types of our first featured chart.

4 Basic Motivating Factors

  1. Recognition
    (admiration, celebrity, esteem, notoriety, regard, respect)
  2. Influence
    (competition, control, independence, order, power)
  3. Internal
    (creativity, duty, honor, intellect, morals, philanthropy)
  4. Profit
    (acquisitions, growth, income, money, possessions, success, wealth)

See, it’s not that scary. Some people have motives that lie in all four areas while others have one predominant area that motivates them more than any of the others. Also, it should not surprise you if your motives change over the years or with experiences. Motives are kind of like trees. While they are always growing and changing, some trees stay the same shape the greater part of their lives. Other trees twist and turn and change greatly in their appearance over a few year span. If you are still uncertain of what your motives are, ask yourself the following questions:

Questions to Consider

  1. Are my goals consistent with what motivates me?
  2. Is there a big difference in my motivations in different situations?
  3. What motivates the people I work (or live) with?
  4. Can or do my motivators cause conflict with my associates (or family)?

What makes someone a good motivator is not necessarily how well they can motivate themselves or how excited they can convey a message. If someone is raving to you about how much they love cotton candy and how they think it’s just so sweet and fluffy and perfect – they could do so until they are blue in the face, but unless they say something that speaks to you and your motives, there is no excited connection – especially if you love carrots… A good motivator is someone who can perceive what motivates others and communicate to them, if you will, in their language. Granted, some people definitely seem more difficult to motivate than others. This could be because of what motivates them or how little motivates them, but there is always something – no matter how small. As mentioned above, here is Reiss’s list of sixteen potential motives. If you found yourself confused or still murky with the basic four listed above, you should definitely be able to find some on here that fit you.

Reiss’s 16 Motives

  1. Power

    (desire to influence – including leadership and mastery)

  2. Curiosity

    (desire for knowledge)

  3. Independence

    (desire to autonomous)

  4. Status

    (desire for social standing – including desire for attention)

  5. Social Contact

    (desire for peer companionship – desire to play)

  6. Vengeance

    (desire to get even – including desire to compete, to win)

  7. Honor

    (desire to obey a traditional moral code)

  8. Idealism

    (desire to improve society – including altruism, justice)

  1. Physical Exercise

    (desire to exercise muscles)

  2. Romance

    (desire for sex – including courting)

  3. Family

    (desire to raise own children)

  4. Order

    (desire to organize – including desire for ritual)

  5. Eating

    (desire to eat)

  6. Acceptance

    (desire for approval)

  7. Tranquility

    (desire to avoid anxiety, fear)

  8. Saving

    (desire to collect, value of frugality)

Hopefully you have a little clearer image of what it is that pushes you to do what it is you do. If you’re still unsure of what your motives are, it would be worth taking the time to try and decide, because once you figure out what your motives regularly are, then you will unlock the key – or keys – to motivating yourself. And this little trinket is priceless in life! And, who knows… Maybe you’re even feeling a little…well…motivated!

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