20 Facts About Motivation

Why do we do what we do? What are the reasons why one person takes action, and another sits idle? The answer is motivation. Everything we do in life is motivated by desire: a reason why we should take action. Why are you motivated to run from a tiger? To live. Why buy a fancy car? To project our position in society to others. Motivations are as complicated, and diverse as life on earth. So why not read on, because your motivated, to learn 20 mind-altering facts about motivation.

Fact 1: Motivation manifests itself as a desire in our minds. So motivation is thought. And these thoughts can be both emotionally driven and logically driven. Most people think motivation looks something like this: I desire to run away from a tiger. However, that’s not really the motivation. The motivation comes from something else…

Fact 2: That something else is the “Why”. The “why” is your real motivation behind your actions. I desire to run away from that tiger. Why? So I can live and avoid pain. Another example, I desire to own a sports car. The “why” in this case, the real motivation to own a car, is to look cool and successful. So you see the real motivation behind a goal of the reasons why you want to achieve that goal, not the goal self.

Fact 3: Another way of looking at our motivation is to think that our motivation comes from the perceived benefits of taking a specific action, not the action itself. For example, you take the action to earn more money, not because you want more money, but because you can buy things with that money. But those things also have reasons why associated with them. SO your real motivation is much deeper than just wanting more money.

Fact 4: Scientists believe that motivation is strongly linked to emotionally-based values. For example, I might hold the value that hard work always pays off. Therefore I’ll be motivated to stay late in work and put in extra shifts solely based on that value.

Fact 5: People can be motivated by things external of themselves. This is when an external event, such as having an unexpected child, suddenly motivates to get a new job or bigger house.

Fact 6: Psychologists believe that motivation is driven by a cyclical process. The process starts with either a thought. For example, you have the thought that you need to get promoted. As a consequence of these thoughts, you take the actions needed to get promoted. This then leads to more thought, which then leads to more action.

Fact 7: One of the theories behind motivation was proposed by American psychologist Abraham Maslow. He stated that all people are naturally “good” and that we are all driven by a hierarchy of needs. More on that next.

Fact 8: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs works on the basis that our basic human needs must be filled before we can be motivated by more advanced needs. These needs are often shown graphicly as a pyramid. For example, at the bottom of the pyramid, there is a need for food and water. You’ll be motivated to get food and water above all other things because you need food and water to live. You’re not going to be motivated to buy a TV if you don’t have water. The point is, you will always be motivated to achieve needs lower on the pyramid, than those higher on the pyramid.

Fact 9: Maslows’s hierarchy of needs are as follows:

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs represented as a pyramid with the more basic needs at the bottom. Chiquo – Own work
A pyramid chart with examples of the categories
CC BY-SA 4.0

Fact 10: Contrary to popular belief, money is not the greatest motivator in the works place. In fact, many other areas of work are often cited as being more important for employee motivation. These include the work environment, recognition, opportunities for growth, and opportunities to progress.

Fact 11: Goals are often used as motivators. But they are, more often than not, used in the wrong way. For example, you may set a goal to earn $100,000 a year. But that alone will not motivate you. Instead, you must have a long list of reasons why you want to earn that much money a year. A goal without a reason why is destined to fail.

Fact 12: What are your real motivators? Many people get confused when setting goals because they don’t know what really motivates them. They set goals to have more “stuff” because that’s what they think they want. For example, they think they want a fast car or they want a bigger more impressive house. But it’s important to dive deep into the next layer of motivators. What are your reasons why you want that expensive car? Is it because it offers more safety than other models? Is it because you drive long distances and so this nice car will offer more comfort and lower your stress levels? Or are you motivated to have that expensive car for your ego? Are you motivated to own that expensive car to impress other people? By delving deep into your motivators, your reasons “why”, you can really start to understand yourself.

Fact 13: People are often motivated by what other people want not what they want. You see this a lot with children. Parents want their child to get straight A’s, but the child wants to do something else such as woodwork. But because the child is too young to “know themselves”, they think their parent’s motivation is their motivation. The point is, choose motivations that you really want not what other people want.

Fact 14: Another type of motivation that people experience is called intrinsic motivation this is when you do an activity, not to achieve something, but simply because you enjoy doing it. For example, I love to write with a fountain pen. I don’t have to write anything in particular or have a goal in mind. I just write for the joy of writing.

Fact 15: Our goals and motivation can be split up based on different life areas. These motivation life areas include:

  • Financial – Money, things, holidays
  • Career – Get promoted set up a business
  • Family – Spend more time partner
  • Health/Appearance – Work out/Eat healthily
  • Relationships – Friends/Work colleges
  • Growth – Skills/Courses
  • Spiritual – Meditation/religion

Notice, all the above life areas have rough goals listed next to them. These are not your reasons why.

Fact 16: Frederick Herzberg, an American psychologist, developed his Two-Factor motivation theory. It’s based on job satisfaction and what he calls hygiene factors. It’s an incredibly detailed theory of workplace motivation. Take a look by clicking on the wiki link here.

Fact 17: Negative motivators are often thought to be the strongest motivators. But most of the time it’s positive motivators that have the biggest effect on performance. You can motivate somebody with a negative motivator. For example, “you’ll get fired if you don’t do this work”. But a negative motivator is nowhere near as effective as a positive motivator. For example, “you’ll get a raise if you do this.”

Fact 18: It’s much easier to become motivated for creative tasks than for repetitive tasks. But why is that? As a species, we love to solve problems and draw on our skills and expertise to find creative solutions to those problems. Whereas repetitive tasks already have all of their solutions planned out completely removing the need for creativity and the use of our skills.

Fact 19: Internal motivators have been found to be far more powerful motivators than external motivators.

Fact 20: Cooperation with other people has been found to naturally boost our motivation to complete the task.

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Image Credit

Thanks FireflySixtySeven – Pyramid showing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – CC BY-SA 4.0

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