What makes people do what they do? Why do some people succeed while others fail? The answer just might be motivation. We know that from an early age motivation prompts us to want to learn and exhibit different types of behavior and stimulates us to accomplish new feats of success. As we grow and mature through the different stages of our lives, we hopefully learn what motivates us and what does not.

What is motivation?

Motivation is generally defined as the force that compels us to action. It drives us to work hard and pushes us to succeed. Motivation influences our behavior and our ability to accomplish goals.

There are many different forms of motivation. Each one influences behavior in its own unique way. No single type of motivation works for everyone. People’s personalities vary and so accordingly does the type of motivation, that is most effective at inspiring their conduct.

Types of Motivation

Incentive

A form of motivation that involves rewards, both monetary and nonmonetary is often called incentive motivation. Many people are driven by the knowledge that they will be rewarded in some manner for achieving a certain target or goal. Bonuses and promotions are good examples of the type of incentives that are used for motivation.

Fear

Fear motivation involves consequences. This type of motivation is often one that is utilized when incentive motivation fails. In a business style of motivation often referred to as the, “carrot and stick,” incentive is the carrot and fear is the stick.

Punishment or negative consequences are a form of fear motivation. This type of motivation is commonly used to motivate students in the education system and also frequently in a professional setting to motivate employees. If we break the rules or fail to achieve the set goal, we are penalized in some way.

Achievement

Achievement motivation is also commonly referred to as the drive for competency. We are driven to achieve goals and tackle new challenges. We desire to improve skills and prove our competency both to others and to ourselves. Generally, this feeling of accomplishment and achievement is intrinsic in nature.

However, in certain circumstances be motivation for achievement may involve external recognition. We often have a desire or need to receive positive feedback from both our peers and our superiors. This may include anything from an award to a simple pat on the back for a job well done.

Growth

The need for self-improvement is truly an internal motivation. A burning desire to increase our knowledge of ourselves and of the outside world can be a very strong form of motivation. We seek to learn and grow as individuals.

Motivation for growth can also be seen in our yearning for change. Many of us are wired by our personality or upbringing to constantly seek a change in either our external or internal environment or knowledge. We view stagnation to be both negative and undesirable.

Power

The motivation of power can either take the form of a desire for autonomy or other desire to control others around us. We want to have choices and control over our own lives. We strive for the ability to direct the manner in which we live now and the way our lives will unfold in the future.

We also often aspire to control others around us. The desire for control is stronger in some people than others. In some cases, the craving for power induces people to harmful, immoral, or illegal behavior. In other situations, the longing for power is merely a desire to affect the behavior of others. We simply want people to do what we want, according to our timetable, and the way we want it done.

Social

Many people are motivated by social factors. This may be a desire to belong and to be accepted by a specific peer group or a desire to relate to the people in our sphere or in the larger world. We have an innate need to feel a connection with others. We also have the need for acceptance and affiliation.

A genuine and passionate desire to contribute and to make a difference in the lives of others can be another form of social motivation. If we have a longing to make a contribution to the world around us, it is generally a sign that we are motivated by social factors.

The real importance of understanding the different types of motivation is in our ability to determine which form of motivation is the most effective for inspiring the desired behavior in either others or ourselves. None of these styles of motivation is inherently good or bad, the positive or negative outcome is truly determined by the way they are used.

(Photo credit: Businessman Placing Motivation via Shutterstock)

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