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Published on February 11, 2020

What Motivates You in Life? 5 Steps to Find Out

What Motivates You in Life? 5 Steps to Find Out

You’ve probably heard the old adage “know thyself.” Understanding yourself is a key step in leading a happy, successful life. One way to understand yourself better is to find out what motivates you in life.

Motivation is best defined as what causes you to take action. There may be a change you want to make in your life, but to make it, you have to know what will cause to you take action.This will depend on a variety of factors. It is important to recognize the different causes of motivation so you can utilize the most effective ones in your own life.

Movement Is Not Always Progress

Since most people are busy taking action, determining your motivation is rarely discussed. You simply know you have a goal you are striving to achieve and you are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish that goal.

While this approach can work, it is not the most effective. When you don’t know what motivates you in life, you are essentially using your willpower alone to accomplish your goals. [1]

However, willpower is an exhaustible resource, and that is why less than 20% of people accomplish their resolutions each year [2] If you want to be in the 20% who successfully change their lives, you need to utilize more than willpower. You need a plan that is structured in a way to capitalize on your strengths.

What Motivates You in Life Is Key

Someone who is focused on advancing their career is concerned more about the title than they are about the salary. Therefore, offering more money but the same title is not going to motivate this type of individual. If you were to offer the same person a newer title with the same pay, they would be motivated to take the position because advancement matters to them.

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Don’t underestimate the power of knowing what motivates you in life. There is a reason that most prosecutors must provide a motive for a jury to consider a defendant’s guilt. It is because your actions need to be linked with your beliefs.

If someone believes their life is in danger, then there is an expectation of the actions that person will take. There must be a consistency between the action the person took and the motive for why they took the action.

Put simply, you want your actions to match the results you are trying to achieve. For you to discover what motivates you in life, you need to consider the following:

1. You Would Do It for Free

If you are fortunate, you will get paid plenty of money to do what motivates you for a living. However, that is not always the case. There are plenty of people who did not make a living doing what they love. Vincent Van Gogh is known today as one of the greatest artists in history.

Did you know that he only sold one painting in his entire life? Van Gogh created over 900 paintings throughout his life, but he was only able to sell one.[3]

It was not until several years after his death that people started to appreciate his art work. Since Van Gogh loved to paint, he was not concerned about whether people purchased his paintings.

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Van Gogh’s motivation was not tied to whether people respected his work, nor was it contingent on his ability to earn a living. Van Gogh painted because he loved to paint.

2. It Is Always on Your Mind

What do you think about when you go to sleep and wake up? Sometimes you are moving so fast in life that you don’t listen to the message from your inner self. When you wake up, have a notebook next to you so you can capture your first thoughts each day. These are clues into what motivates you in life.

Keep your notebook on you and add any ideas you have throughout the day. As you fill the pages in your notebook, you should be able to recognize some commonalities in your thoughts. The things you think about all the time are things you care about.

In addition to your inner thoughts, what motivates you in life will include activities you are always talking about. When you are around your friends and family, what topics do you always bring up? Have you found yourself in a grocery store talking to the cashier or bag-person about this same topic? If so, it is likely you have found something you are passionate about and motivated to pursue.

3. You Get Lost in Learning

Are there activities you cannot get enough of and lose track of time engaging in? These are signs that you may have found something that motivates you in life. Studies show that if you are reading material that motivates you, you will read more and remember more than you would with materials that did not motivate you.[4]

The key to motivation is that you are pushed to take action. Whenever you feel compelled to take action, you’ll want to pay attention to why you take action.

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4. You Can List It in the Most Fulfilling Times of Your Life

Self reflection is a great way to recognize what motivates you in life. Think about the times in your life when you felt most proud of yourself. It could be when you hit the game-winning home run or when you landed your dream job. Whatever these moments are, write down each of them on a sheet of paper. Review your list and see if you recognize any commonalities.

Were you with family, performing in front of others, or helping those less fortunate? Whatever you were doing, these are clues to what motivates you in life.

Once you recognize the commonalities of what motivates you, take action to confirm. If you enjoy expressing your creativity, find a way to express your creativity. You may realize you have a very specific aspect of creativity you are motivated by.

There are going to be others who are motivated by helping those in need. If you believe you enjoy helping others, volunteer and see how you feel. You may realize you don’t like to help just anyone, but rather a particular cause that you are passionate about.

The point of this activity is not to judge your motivations, but to explore them.

5. You Would Do It If No One Was Watching

There are things you do in life because society tells you they are good ideas. Society tells you which school you should go to, which major and career you should choose, and even which city you should live in. There are certain choices that are considered prestigious and will be well-received by most people. Then, there is a less-celebrated path that is rarely traveled.

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Only you can answer the question, “Why am I on this path?” Are you on the path that will get you a pat on the back from your parents or your friends? Or are you on a path that few people understand and appreciate?

There is a saying that what you do when no one is looking defines you. If you take action to receive recognition from other people in your life, then you already have your reward. However, if you are provoked to take action according to your inner purpose, then you are doing what motivates you in life.

Final Thoughts

What motivates you in life is going to change over time. When you were young, life may have been simpler. Perhaps you were going to build a multi-billion dollar company because you were motivated by success and significance. However, when you were a bit older, you were motivated by freedom and the idea of traveling around the world. Then you had kids, and they became the driving force for everything you did in life.

As you experience different life events, you will realize your motivations will adjust accordingly. That is why it is a good idea to review what motivates you in life periodically. This will give you the opportunity to adjust your goals as your motivations change.

Featured photo credit: Jasmine B via unsplash.com

Reference

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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