Planning for success: Step 3 – Motivation

Onto step 3, of the 10 Steps to Success. So far we have spoken about Vision and Goals. In this post, I am going to talk about the subject of motivation.

Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly. – Stephen R. Covey

Motivation is a primary element in achieving the outcomes that you wish to. I have seen or heard of it referred to as the “reason why” (GoMAD Thinking), “mojo” or “driving force”. However, regardless of what you might call it motivation is deep rooted, natural driving force that makes you take action. What motivates us, like our vision, is likely going to be unique to each of us and the levels of drive to accomplish may vary depending upon circumstances and situations, and changes in them, in the various aspects of our lives.

What is Motivation?

Whilst researching some information for this post, I came across this definition for motivation in a reference book:

…the processes that account for an individuals intensity, direction and persistence of effort towards attaining a goal – Stephen P. Robbins, Organizational Behaviour (9th ed)

Within that definition are three interesting terms that stand out.

  • How hard you try: Intensity
  • Whether you move towards or away from a situation or state: Direction
  • How long you are willing to maintain your effort to achieve the goal: Persistence

I think that sums up motivation quite nicely.

What motivates us?

That seems like a bit of an odd statement, as I have said above that motivation is an individual thing. However, there are many models that refer to the topic of motivation, two that I find useful are Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs and Alderfer’s ERG theory. The latter being a development of the former. Both of these models suggest that as human beings we have a continuum of needs from basic survival needs (food, water, shelter), through social (belonging, affection, relationship, social esteem) to the highest levels where we drive to become what we are capable of (personal growth, achievement, self-fulfilment). They differ in their thoughts on progression through the levels, however, they agree on the concept that as we fulfil the needs at the lower levels our desire to progress to higher levels becomes our motivation.

Vision & motivation

Your vision for your better future, depending on where you start from, might perhaps exist at any level of the continuum. However, in having created a strong and desirable vision, one that excites and pulls you towards it; you will create the conditions that will maintain your energy and commitment to achieving your goals and ultimately your vision. This will provide you with high levels of motivation. As and when your circumstances change, you may find your motivational levels change. At that time re-assess your vision & goals to make sure that the things you are going after are still important to you or perhaps you may have already achieved them. Then you can go to work on creating new ones that will re-invigorate you and take you even further forward.
Occasionally, your goal may be to move away from a situation that you do not like rather than to move toward a situation you desire. That in itself can be a powerful motivator. However, as you distance yourself from that situation, you may find your motivation may quickly wane as the “pain” subsides. Here, having a strong vision to move towards can help you maintain or even build the momentum.

What are the things that motivate you to take action? Which ones really stoke the fire in your engine room? Which direction are your goals taking you? Toward a better future or away from a painful present?

Next time we’ll look at belief or more importantly self-belief in the successful achievement of your vision and goals.


Success, Motivation
Creative Commons License photo credit: h.koppdelaney