Drive – the surprising truth about what motivates us

When we start out in life, we have amazing clarity on what we want to be. Perhaps we want to be a nurse, or a vet, or a firefighter. These simple needs or aspirations that we feel as a child can be forgotten as we grow up, and we loose sight of our deepest sense of purpose. Not everyone can, should, or will be as an adult, the thing we wanted to be as a child. But it is worth exploring this early career ideal though, because it is often surprisingly close to what we want and need as an adult.

This is an old video now, and I first watched it when it came out several years ago.

The concepts explained in this video remain true, and there is a surprising truth about what motivates us.

So, the surprising thing about motivation, is that it is only loosely related to money. We need ‘enough’ money, and once we have enough, our motivation shifts to a different level.

I spend anywhere from 10 hours upwards working on writing in my spare time, many weeks it can be as high as 20 hours. I am not alone in this, and my previous survey confirmed that many of my blog readers, just like me, can spend many hours a week working on their writing projects, with little or no monetary reward.

So why do we do this? Why use our precious time on something that pays so poorly, if it pays at all?

It all comes down to the three pillars of motivation.

Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose.

These are the things we want and crave. These are the things that get us out of bed in the morning, and keep us tapping away at our keyboards late into the night.

Autonomy – This is about the freedom to choose within the bounds of interdependence. In other words, given a set goal or objective, having the freedom to decide for ourselves how best to achieve this can prove to be powerful both to our performance and our overall wellness.

Mastery – We want to improve. This really is the bottom line. Find me a writer who has just written a great book, who doesn’t want to write an even better one next time – enough said.

Purpose – This is our energy, and is derived by connecting our conquest to our higher purpose. I have blogged before about living your life purpose. It sounds like a cliche, but if we know what our life purpose is, and we can find a way to make it a part of our working or home life, then we are well on the way to living a happy, fulfilled life.

For more on the subject see The Three Pillars of Motivation

For more on finding your life purpose see How to find your life purpose

I will leave you with a thought and a question. What did you want to be when you were a child, and does it relate at all to what you are doing now? Can you see any connection between what you love doing now, and what your childhood aspirations were?

15 questions to reveal your ultimate purpose in life

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17 thoughts on “Drive – the surprising truth about what motivates us

  1. I was always a reader, but I dreamed of becoming an architect. Now, I design story structure, and you are correct about ‘mastery’, I am always trying to make the next story better. I also like being my own boss and feel in my core that I am doing what I was meant to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I always knew what I wanted to do with my life and I did it. I wasn’t going to watch this long video right now but once I did, it was over before I knew it. Thanks so much. NIce to know I’ve been on the right path all along. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I never gave it much thought from the age of eight, I knew what I was about. 😀 I’m not interested in turning back the clock nor ever opening doors I’ve shut along the way. I am only interested in going forward. I consider myself lucky.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I wanted to be an author, a teacher, or a vet.

    I managed the author thing, and I’ve always had pets around me – and have a basic knowledge of some pet first aid – so I guess I got the main parts covered.

    Never really got anywhere with being a teacher, but maybe I covered that by writing for children, and having morals in many of my stories?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Really amazing video and it rings true. Could it be that that monetary incentive ideas that DON’T work stem from the fact that we know, deep down, that these are just another carrot hanging from another stick? And we detest the sticks! It feels insulting to us to be told “Just do more of the same crap quicker and we’ll pay you more.” ?

    In one particularly awful job I had, they rewarded you for rushing through your work to close files by giving out ‘jeans days.’ We had to dress very professionally every day for a job in an environment that was completely closed to the public; locked doors everywhere to stop anyone else from coming in. We never saw anybody other than our workmates, yet the dress code was ridiculous. And we were rewarded with ‘jeans days,’ which we then had to jump through hoops to redeem. Needless to say, a whole pile of insulting and unused ‘jeans day’ slips got tossed in the trash can the day I left.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed the video 🙂 I always try to think what makes me feel motivated to work at my best and what doesn’t work. Clearly your employer at that time (the time of the jeans day tickets) had no idea how to get the best out of its employees 😉 maybe we should send them the video.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awful place. I got laid off (they were always laying people off a few days before they would have had to make them ‘permanent’ and did it to me twice) on 11/11/11 – an auspicious date! I kept my somber face on all the way to my car – and then laughed ’til the tears ran down my face.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Awesome post! Nailed it for me. The interesting thing is… There are people who spend untold amounts of time doing things that make no money. So Why not do something you’re passionate about?

    Liked by 1 person

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