Why do you do what you do? What makes you get out of bed and go to work or school or what ever it is that keep you busy all day long? Most of us have obligations and do things out of love, to provide for our families, eat, have a roof over our heads and achieve all the elements in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Outside of life’s major needs, I’m thinking of what motivates us in the little things in life, like why you choose to eat something or not, why you react the way you do, why you buy that expensive item or refrain. Why do you go out of your way and rearrange your schedule to accommodate someone; a boss, relative, friend, or romantic interest? I think about these things occasionally and have come up with 6 very common motivators for action as follows:
1. Outside affirmation: We all love praise. Well like to be told “Well done. I’m proud of you.” From parents, managers, coaches, and even friends. It’s OK to do things to receive a pat on the back, but going to the extreme of needing the affirmation as validation of worth or in co-dependency, shows a deeper confidence issue.
My mentor, Rhonda Shasteen, has spent time teaching me an amazing lesson, and that is to always, “Be true to yourself. ” She also told me that I’m not on this earth to please everyone. That was hard for me to wrap my head around coming from a family with generations in the restaurant business, where happy customers and repeat visitors are the life of your business. Fortunately Rhonda is an amazing sounding board in my life to help me grow in self-awareness.
2. Recognition: Sometimes we go the extra mile because we know there’s recognition at the other end of the work. Recognition is a great incentive and a good motivator, though I doubt you really receive it if that’s at the core of why you’re doing something.
3. Fear: How often do we operate out of fear? If I don’t do “X” he’ll get mad, and I hate it when he gets mad. If I go outside of my comfort zone and take a risk, then who knows what will happen, and I’d rather do things where I can control. If I allow myself to be vulnerable, then I might get hurt. Fear isn’t the healthiest place to operate from unless it’s telling you not to take drugs or jump off a bridge or commit a crime. Moreover, had I been fearful, I would have never asked Rhonda to mentor me, and I wouldn’t have her as an amazing sounding board in my life helping me grow in self-awareness each time we meet.
Outside affirmation, praise and fear. That’s a lot of food for thought. Next time we’ll finish up this short series with three more common motivators to help us on a path of self-improvement.