Methods of Motivation

My heart is pounding faster. My palms are getting sweaty. My eyes are darting frantically around the lightless room, my throat is squeezing in on itself, I can’t swallow. I can’t breathe. I can’t think.

Door! My legs jolt from beneath and the only thing on my mind is getting out of the inky-black depths of my bedroom. Now, years after I’ve conquered my fear of the dark, I look back and wonder: what caused me to run when I was paralyzed by fear? The intense sensation of fear evoked within me the motivation to bolt from the situation of impending doom. This may not be a typical example of motivation, but it is certainly a common one. To accomplish a task at hand, there must be a catalyst that prompts the urge to act. Although it may seem difficult at times, no matter the circumstance, motivation can be found.

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Motivation toward a goal arises in several forms that trigger an initial action. Nothing to Motivate But Fear Itself: The primal “fight or flight” response to a frightening situation (like a little girl in her dark bedroom) is the symbolic form of fear-based motivation. In this day and age, fear of embarrassment or fear of disappointing someone are just as common, if not more so. Many, if not all of us, have a fear of being in an awkward or humiliating social situation. These fears result in the desire to act well behaved in the presence of other people as well as acting as an incentive to prepare for social interactions, speeches, presentations, meetings, or even parties. Not to mention the extent to which we all go to look and smell appealing! The fear of letting someone down is another form of fear-based motivation that prompts a person to carry out responsibilities and keep promises or commitments.

This form of motivation is perhaps the easiest motivation to call upon, as it is embedded in our DNA. Next time fear is lurking in the back of your mind (or maybe your bedroom) you have the power to manipulate it into a force, a force that thrusts you toward your goal, or perhaps away from an embarrassing social situation. Serial Accomplishments: Along with a series of successes comes a blissful stream of motivation. The perfect example of this form of motivation is known to just about every fitness fanatic. When they begin to see results from their efforts, it inspires them to keep working hard (if not harder). This oddly resembles the snowball effect that, granted, may lead to an over-inflated ego and an overestimation of one’s abilities, but is also a form of silent encouragement that generates confidence.

Motivation from consecutive accomplishments can be applied to any region of one’s life including a series of A’s on your last five core subject tests, finishing the previous four Harry Potter books in the last two weeks, beating your Candy Crush top score several times in the last hour, even cleaning the entire downstairs – plus the bathroom mirror! The belief that nothing can stop you in your endeavors, and that no obstacles, big or small, can prevent you from succeeding is a compelling form of motivation. Going for the Gold: Motivation generated by a thirst for winning is yet another powerful form of motivation. Winning could be a race, a game, a spelling bee, or even someone else’s attention. Competition and attention often go hand in hand. The lack of attention from someone drives a person to get into a grind and snag that person’s or group of peoples’ attention. This could be as simple as demonstrating your abilities on a sports field to a recruiter in the stands, or as complex as gaining your supervisor’s approval through a series of perfectly timed coffee deliveries and exceptional displays of leadership in the workplace.

Motivation out of competition requires one potent ingredient: desire. It can be the desire to improve yourself, a desire to beat another, or the desire to gain something. Countries from pole to pole are in constant competition for natural resources like oil, water, and power – all of which are limited. This motivation feels like hunger, tempting you to try harder and reach further, while never allowing you to feel completely satisfied. Top athletes have this motivation in large doses, propelling them toward ambitious mile times and ever-growing muscle-size.

This form of motivation is powerful, to say the least, and at its best, it can be harnessed into an invaluable tool to accomplishing your goals. Hitting Rock Bottom: The toughest to call upon, yet possibly the most powerful form of motivation arises from the hands of failure. When nothing in a person’s life appears to be “right” they ironically hold the most powerful tool to success: believing that there is nothing to lose and is thus willing to take extraordinary risks. The belief that one’s situation can only improve, results in a dangerously new level of freedom. When nothing appears to be going as you might have hoped, the potential to catapult toward your goal increases, so as long as you can put some heavy things on the line.

Having the flexibility to try anything, go for anything, fail at anything is yet another form of motivation. When instead of a series of accomplishments, you find yourself faced with a series of defeats, there’s no doubt that your first urge is to lay in bed all day feeling sorry for yourself only wishing things could be better. But after a walk in nature or a funny animal video session on Youtube, motivation to start over finds its way to you. Thinking that anything you try can only make your situation better, is an impressive configuration of motivation that thrusts you in the direction of your goals. Motivation embodies a variety of costumes, and we all need some form of it to succeed in our greatest endeavors.

No matter what level someone is at in their life, motivation can be found. From the haunted bedroom of a little girl to the praise of an authority figure to the wild animal kingdom of a sports field, all the way to rock bottom, we can find a reason to strive toward our goals. Find something that motivates you then shoot for the stars.