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Define Motivation for You

How would you define motivation? I would define it by saying that motivation is whatever stimulates us to accomplish a goal. The dictionary.com definition of motivation is “Something that motivates; an inducement or incentive.”



Our Goals Define Motivation

There are a number of different motivation theories developed by psychologists that relate to (among others) the concepts of goal-setting, achievement, success, control and escape. The purpose of this website is to help you define motivation as it relates to you by developing a detailed motivation plan. For our purposes, we will concentrate only on the goal-setting theory of motivation. The website www.changingminds.org describes the goals in the goal-setting theory of motivation as goals that are:

  1. Clear (not vague) and understandable, so we know what to do and what not to do.
  2. Challenging, so we will be stimulated and not be bored.
  3. Achievable, so we are unlikely to fail.

To begin, it’s important that you define motivation for yourself, so ask yourself the question, “What motivates me?” That’s because each one of us is different and we define motivation depending on where we are in life and what our goals are. Our goals can change every day, every month or every year. So take some time to really think about this before you answer.

As an example, if you are a teenager, your goals might run along the lines of attracting the opposite sex or getting your own car. You define motivation as improving your physical appearance to attract the opposite sex, going somewhere that the opposite sex gathers, taking driver’s education to get that license and getting a part-time job to purchase a car. Once you graduate from college your goals will change to something like “getting a job” or “getting into graduate school”. After you are married and have children, your goals will change again, you get the picture.

If you’re having problems getting motivated in your life, maybe the expiration date on your goals is past due. You might not really have looked at them in awhile and they need to be updated. Your goals should be relevant to where you are in life and should match whatever issues you are trying to resolve. To learn more, go to goal setting. Sometimes I find that people make goals that are incompatible with what they really want out of life. For example, someone who is struggling to make ends meet has a goal of “becoming a millionaire”. As stated above, goals should be clear, challenging and achievable. They should also be realistic and reflect what is happening in one’s life right now. It would be far better and more immediately achievable to make a goal of “increase my income to live comfortably”. The millionaire stuff can wait until one’s financial feet are on the ground.

So, the goals we have determine what our motivators will be and vice versa. Let’s take a look at one man’s goal of “have a better relationship with my mother-in-law”. The motivator for this is to enrich his relationship with his wife or to bring peace to the family. Both of these motivators represent a reward he is seeking and are concepts that he regards as valuable to enriching his life—as the Chinese saying goes, “happy wife, happy life”. As such, wishing to enrich his relationship with his wife, this man might be motivated to take actions that he might not ordinarily take such as 1) remember to order flowers for his mother-in-law’s birthday 2) make it a point to compliment mum-in-law the next time they are together or 3) forward an article on gardening (mum-in-law’s favorite hobby) to her. All of these actions are done with the goal in mind of enriching his relationship with his wife. Then, in this case, his primary motivator is his wife and this becomes his personal definition of motivation.

Many family members have other family members as their motivators—i.e. their spouse, their parents or their children. Other people define motivation with things like money, security, friendship, belongingness, stability, a new house, fancy clothes, shoes, cars, boats—the list goes on and on. It’s OK to have any one of these things as your motivator (and more) but it’s important to identify what your motivators are and to be brutally honest with yourself about it. Keep in mind this is intensely personal as you define motivation for you and no one else. As such, this need not be shared with anyone else.

The definition of motivation will vary for each individual. So take a few minutes to write in your personal motivation notebook or journal what or who your primary motivators are. Pick three and rank them in order 1-2-3. Later when we work on goal setting and goal achievement, this will become very important.

Defining motivation is a very personal process for each individual. Your particular definition of motivation is uniquely yours and you will continue to define it through the goal setting process.

What motivates you? I would love to hear about it. You can contact me here.

Click on these related articles about self motivation:

Ten Self Motivation Tips to 
Change Your Life Now!

When Positive Affirmations and Positive Thinking Aren’t Enough 

The Meaning of Success is Exclusively Yours! 

Positive Thinking can Change your Life Overnight 

Procrastination – Deal With It By Finding the Reason Behind it 

Goal Setting -- a Different Approach


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About the Author of this Website

My name is Carolyn Jolly. My professional life has been in sales, marketing and IT management. Along the way I’ve been studying and experimenting with self improvement and personal development techniques for the past 20 years. I have had more than a few mind-blowing experiences and I’ve made some discoveries that have shaped my ideas. I’m now using this website to pass those ideas along.

Our world is changing very rapidly. Many of the constants and institutions we thought to be permanent are now crumbling or changing drastically. This website is dedicated to those interested in how to manage their lives in light of these changes or in just becoming a better person. I hope the information you find here will stimulate you to embark on your own voyage of motivation and self improvement.

I hope that you will find something here that interests you. If you have any questions or comments, you can reach me here.

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