Motivation 101

Generally speaking, we are motivated in one of two ways:

  • Fear
  • Reward

That’s it – the Carrot or the Stick. One of the hidden little secrets about achievement is that high achievers are generally motivated by rewards more than by fear.

The Passionate Pursuit Of A Goal

Virtually any successful person you read about or follow will tell you that having a dream, a purpose or a passion helped produce the energy and drive they had for their goal. Much has been written on the subject, and one of my favorite sources (and the best in my opinion) is The Magic of Thinking Big.

The reason is not hard to understand:

If you are motivated primarily by fear, once fear is gone, so is the motivation.

For example, if you’re no longer worried about losing your job, failing a class, or making a good impression, then the fear is removed. Complacency sets in, and motivation fades away.

But with motivation by reward, new rewards can always be set and that’s exactly what high achievers do. They are dreamers who keep themselves motivated with the pursuit of new and challenging goals, and the thought of the rewards that will be theirs when it’s reached (self-gratification, money, improved health, etc). The best way to retrain yourself to become motivated by rewards is to begin to dream.

Don’t Be Practical

Sadly, many of us weren’t taught about motivation by rewards and we didn’t figure it out on our own. Most people simply don’t have a big or compelling dream. Maybe it was because we had a well-meaning parent saying “be practical” to protect us from disappointment or maybe we just learned that
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reaching for a dream (or anything worthwhile) will include challenges, frustration and some disappointment along the way.

But we first have to realize that frustration and failure are simply part of the process. In conceding to frustration, we virtually guarantee our defeat and lose out on one of the great sources of satisfaction in life – achievement. Realizing a dream is worth a little frustration and disappointment along the way, and there’s no way to achieve anything worthwhile without it.

So the essential starting place for motivation is a dream, or a reward, that you put in place instead of fear as your prime motivator.

Summary of Key Points:

  1. We are motivated by either fear or rewards
  2. Motivation by rewards, by focusing on the benefits to be realized from reaching the goal, is a better and more effective approach to achieving a goal
  3. Practicing the habit of dreaming about, or visualizing, yourself having the benefits of the goal will help to keep yourself motivated