Have you ever wondered what motivates people to do certain things? Why some people are just “gung ho” about an idea while others couldn’t care less? Or why you constantly find yourself repeating certain activities again and again? Without pulling Sigmund Freud into the picture, we can understand some of the basic motivations that we’ve all experienced from time to time in an effort to understand the motivations of not only others, but ourselves as well. Understanding our own motivations gives us the information we need to turn our personal potential into our own guaranteed success.

One of our basic motivations to do things is based on physical needs, like food, water, clothing, and shelter. Being the most obvious, the need for these things (food, water, clothing, and shelter) is the prime motivation that drives people to work in order to earn an income and get them. Without these items, we can’t survive – thus survival becomes a basic motivation that enables us to continue living.

The motivation to survive of course, goes without saying. It’s our need for self-actualization or self-validation that drives us to acquire the “best” food, “best” water, “best” clothing, and “best” shelter. Since employment gives us the means to acquire our basic needs, we then seek the “best” employment to validate our wants for the best of them. Very few of us volunteer to accept what we already have and despite what psychologists or sociologists may say, our drive to have the “best” may in fact be a factor of human nature more than social or cultural conditioning.

We also have another motivation – one that drives us to adjust our behaviors and choices. And that motivation is to belong. The motivation to belong has captivated American society for ages and is responsible for our shopping habits, the schools we put our children in, and the clothing that we buy.

But the motivations that make us especially interested in things that are separate from our survival needs or our desire to belong are our inborn inclinations to do things. These motivations are unknown forces that defy all explanation. One may even interpret this type of motivation as habit or natural talent – an invisible force that wakes us up early in the morning to work our hardest and perform our best. As an example, a comedian may be motivated to put on the best show possible and succeed out of habit or a natural talent for telling the funniest jokes. In other words, the guy just might not be able to help his own success!

Can you “suffer” from the same inclination to succeed? Sure! Simply take a few minutes (or longer if needed) to evaluate the things that you can not stop doing. These are your own mysterious motivations (or natural talents). Our example comedian found success by failing to stop making others laugh. Others who can not stop talking (in other words, are motivated to constantly speak) can find success in writing or working as a phone support consultant. Or how about a person who can’t stop fixing things? Certainly this person can find success in almost any occupation. See how it works? What are you naturally inclined to do? Once you find out what you just can’t stop yourself from doing – you’ve found your own unique motivation for success and you can turn that inborn motivation into a career!

Nicole Miller is a developer and member of the Association of Shareware Professionals.

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