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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 May 22, 2020

What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

The word “leader” makes you think of people in charge, high-ranking people: your boss, politicians, presidents, CEOs…

But leadership really isn’t about a particular position or a person’s seniority. Just because someone has worked for many years doesn’t mean s/he has gained the qualities and skills to lead a team.

Getting promoted to a managerial position doesn’t automatically turn you into a leader either. CEOs and other high-ranking officials don’t always have great leadership skills.

So what makes a good leader? What are the characteristics of a leader?

Good leadership is about acquiring and honing specific skills. Leadership skills enable you to be a role model for a team in any environment. With great leadership qualities, successful leaders come in all shapes and sizes: in the home, at school, or in the workplace.

The following are some of the many characteristics great leaders exhibit.

1. A Positive Attitude

Great leaders know that they won’t have a happy and motivated team unless they themselves exhibit a positive attitude. This can be done by remaining positive when things go wrong and by creating a relaxed and happy atmosphere in the workplace.

Even some simple things like providing snacks or organizing a team Happy Hour can make a world of difference. An added perk is that team members are likely to work harder and do overtime when needed if they’re happy and appreciated.

Even in the worst situations, such as experiencing low team morale or team members having made a big mistake at work, a great leader stays positive and figures out ways to keep the team motivated to solve the problems.

Walt Disney had his share of hardships and challenges, and like any great leader, he managed to stay positive and find new opportunities. In 1928, Disney found that his film producer, Charles Mintz, wanted to reduce his payments for the Oswald series. Mintz threatened to cut ties entirely if Disney didn’t accept his terms, and Disney chose to part ways. But in leaving Oswald, Disney decided to create something new: the iconic Mickey Mouse[1].

The key is to break down huge challenges into smaller ones and find ways to tackle them one by one.

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Think about the lessons you can learn from the mistake and jot them down because sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.

2. Confidence

All great leaders have to exhibit an air of confidence if they’re going to succeed. Please don’t confuse this with self-satisfaction and arrogance. You want people to look up to you for inspiration, not so they can punch you in the face.

Confidence is important because people will be looking to you on how to behave, particularly if things aren’t going 100% right. If you remain calm and poised, team members are far more likely to as well. As a result, morale and productivity will remain high, and the problem will be solved more quickly.

If you panic and give up, they will know immediately and things will simply go downhill from there.

Elon Musk is a great example of a leader with confidence. He truly believes that Tesla will be successful, which he has shown many times through his actions. He converted 532,000 stock options at $6.63 each, their value on Dec. 4, 2009, before Tesla went public. It was a hefty bargain considering Tesla’s stock price stood at around $195 per share at that time. He doesn’t apologize for his beliefs and has drawn fire from just about everyone for his political actions.

You can’t instantly become a very confident person, but all the small things you do every day will gradually make you more confident:

  • List 5 things you like about yourself every day (something different every day), and you’ll appreciate yourself more.
  • Work on your strengths and do your best to enhance them.

3. A Sense of Humor

It’s imperative for any kind of leader to have a sense of humor, particularly when things go wrong. And they will.

Your team members are going to be looking to you for how to react in a seemingly dire situation. It would probably be best if you weren’t stringing up a noose for yourself in the corner. You need to be able to laugh things off because if staff morale goes down, so will productivity.

Establish this environment prior to any kind of meltdown by encouraging humor and personal discussions in the workplace.

As a president, Barack Obama exuded confidence and calm during stressful situations. But he was also known for his “dad jokes,”[2] his genuinely funny speeches at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and appearing on Zack Galifianakis’s Between Two Ferns.[3] Obama’s sense of humor made him grounded, realistic, and honest, which no doubt helped during some tense moments in the White House!

Learn to laugh at yourself. Confident people laugh about their own silly mistakes, and when you do this, others will also trust you more because you’re willing to share your experiences.

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Be observant and learn from the jokes others make. You can also get a lot of inspiration from the internet.

4. Ability to Embrace Failure

No matter how hard you try to avoid it, failures will happen; that’s okay. You just need to know how to deal with them.

Great leaders take them in strides. They remain calm and logically think through the situation and utilize their resources. What they don’t do is fall apart and reveal to their team how worried they are, which leads to negative morale, fear, and binge-drinking under desks.

Great leaders do, in fact, lead, even when they’re faced with setbacks.

Henry Ford experienced a major setback after designing and improving the Ford Quadricycle. He founded the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899, but the resulting cars they produced did not live up to his standards and were too expensive. The company dissolved in 1901. Ford took this in stride and formed the Henry Ford Company. The sales were slow and the company had financial problems; it wasn’t until 1903 that the Ford Motor Company was successful and put the Ford on the map.

Get to the root cause of any problem so you can prevent it from happening again and learn from the mistake.

By asking “why” 5 times (or more) on why something happened, you can find out the key factor that caused the problem and can find the best solution to tackle the problem.

You’ll also learn how to prevent this from happening again in the future after finding out a problem’s root cause.

5. Careful Listening and Feedback

This is far more complex than it actually sounds. Good communication skills are essential for a great leader. You may very well understand the cave of crazy that is your brain, but that doesn’t mean that you can adequately take the ideas out of it and explain them to someone else.

The best leaders need to be able to communicate clearly with the people around them. They also need to be able to interpret other people properly and not take what they say personally.

The Dalai Lama, as a symbol of the unification of the state of Tibet, represents and practices Buddhist values. The Dalai Lama’s leadership is benevolent and aims toward truth and understanding, alongside the other Buddhist precepts. This is a great example for all leaders: if you want to give good directions to others, you have to get feedback from others to understand the situation properly.

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Encourage communication between team members and establish an open door policy.

Practice not interrupting team members when they’re talking. Instead, summarize what they say and ask for feedback after you have talked about your ideas.

6. Knowing How and When to Delegate

No matter how much you might want to, you can’t actually do everything yourself. Even if you could, in a team environment that would be a terrible idea anyway.

Good leaders recognize that delegation does more than simply alleviate their own stress levels (although that’s obviously a nice perk). Delegating to others shows that you have confidence in their abilities, which subsequently results in higher morale in the workplace, as well as loyalty from your staff. They want to feel appreciated and trusted.

Although Steve Jobs was known for focusing in on the smallest of details, he knew how to delegate. By finding, cultivating, and trusting capable team members, Jobs was able to make Apple run smoothly, even when he had to be absent for extended periods of time.

To know when and how to delegate work to team members, you have to be very familiar with each of them:

  • List out all of their strengths, weaknesses, and personalities.
  • Talk with your team members more to know about their passion and interests.

Take a look at this guide and learn more about delegation: How to Delegate Work Effectively (The Definitive Guide for Leaders)

7. Growth Mindset

Any good leader knows how important it is to develop the skills of those around them. The best can recognize those skills early on. Not only will development make work easier as they improve and grow, it will also foster morale. In addition, they may develop some skills that you don’t possess that will be beneficial to the workplace.

Great leaders share their knowledge with the team and give them the opportunity to achieve. This is how leaders gain their respect and loyalty.

Pope Francis has been unusually popular with many Catholics and many non-Catholics. His position isn’t totally traditional, which is part of his appeal, but he also has admirable leadership skills. Pope Francis’s TED talk[4] drew attention because he encouraged leaders to be humble and to demonstrate solidarity with others. This inclusive, kind, and respectful style of leadership is incredibly important for any situation.

It’s important to spend time talking with other team members individually to understand them.

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Find out team members’ current challenges and try to give feedback and encouragement so they will grow and do better.

8. Responsibility

Great leaders know that when it comes to their company, work place or whatever situation they’re in, they need to take personal responsibility for failure. How can they expect employees to hold themselves accountable if they themselves don’t?

The best leaders don’t make excuses; they take the blame and then work out how to fix the problem as soon as possible. This proves that they’re trustworthy and possess integrity.

Howard Gillman is the chancellor of UC Irvine. You might have heard of how the university rescinded a bunch of acceptances, and then changed its mind[5], This past spring, an unusually high number of accepted students decided to matriculate; the school initially responded by rescinding offers over things like missed deadlines. But the college realized this was a mistake and reversed its decision. Gillman and the university accepted responsibility and decided to move past their earlier bad decision.

Always ask yourself what you can do better or what you should change. Take responsibility and think about what you can do better to prevent this from happening next time.

9. A Desire to Learn

It’s safe to say that all great leaders will have to enter unchartered waters at some point during their career. Because of this, they have to be able to trust their intuition and draw on past experiences to guide them.

Great leaders know that there’s always something to learn from everything they have experienced before. They are able to connect the present challenges with the lessons learned in the past to make decisions and take actions promptly.

You can either recall what you’ve learned from your memories or search your notes (ideally, a software that you can access anywhere with things well-organized).

Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world, has mostly made the right calls. But in dealing with huge amounts of money, Buffett has also made several multi-million (and sometimes multi-billion) dollar mistakes. He has stated that buying the company Berkshire Hathaway was his biggest mistake[6]. From that poor choice, he realized that it was unwise to pursue “improvements” and “expansions” in the existing textile industry. Despite mistakes like this, Buffett has invested wisely, and it shows.

To effectively learn from the past, write down lessons you’ve learned from any mistakes you’ve made. Have all the lessons well organized, and when similar things happen again in future, take these lessons as references.

The Bottom Line

Leadership traits are learnable. If you practice consistently, you can be a great leader, too.

Make small changes to your habits when you work with your team, wherever that may be. Most of us aren’t presidents or CEOs, but we all work with other people, and our actions always impact others. This gives every person the chance to develop leadership skills and to stand out from the crowd.

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Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

Reference

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