What is motivation?

The author Steven Pressfield has a great line in his book, The War of Art, which I think gets at the core of motivation. To paraphrase Pressfield, “At some point, the pain of not doing it becomes greater than the pain of doing it.” 

Pressfield's line suggests a balancing act, or one option outweighing another that leads to doing. This can be seen or used in many examples of behaviour change; the motivation to stop smoking or the motivation to live a healthier lifestyle. This is reactive motivation, although the decision comes from a psychological perspective it is being enforced on you by the environment. You are aiming to get away from something. 

What is the motivation when there is no pain from not doing it, when you want to get something and there is no consequence of stopping. This is the motivation that separates the top percentile from the normal population. How do some people display motivation even when there is no consequence of not doing it?

To simply rephrase Pressfield we could say when “The benefit of doing it becomes greater than not doing” This still implies an outweighing of one side from the other leading to action although from a more positive perspective as it starts from within, it is our decision and not forced upon us.

A major difference between the two outlooks is that benefits don’t seem to impact us like consequence does, a consequence is persistent, it knocks on the door of our minds when we wake up and those moments we seek peace of mind. In order to turn this around we must learn from the methodology of consequence and knock on the door of our minds with benefits and reason daily, this is how we outweigh the benefits of stopping. 

Motivation scheduling

As children we are very good at this, I personally recall covering my bedroom wall with posters of my favourite athletes, wearing their jerseys and watching sport at every chance I could get. Although we don’t need to redecorate to get motivated we can simply schedule a meeting, like any ambitious business. 

Schedule a time either daily or weekly in which we actively reinforce the benefits, how will continuing this behaviour impact our lives for the better, how will the behaviour affect others and our community for the better? Yes, we could simply not do it and receive no consequence, but by doing it we change the environment and not vice versa. 

What is motivation? The essence of it is the motive to do something. Motivation can come in different forms, the type we should be nurturing is the one that comes from within, from our own creativity and vision, to change the world around us for the better.  We need to remind ourselves of this motive daily.