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Motivation

The 7 Driving Forces Behind Human Motivation

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Motivation is the ultimate force that causes you to take action. Not only does it initiate and drive goal-oriented behaviour, but it also sustains it. The actions can be as simple as eating healthy, or as complex as winning a Nobel Prize; every action has a certain motivation behind it. The driving forces behind human motivation can be biological, emotional, social, or personal in nature.

A lot of research has been carried out to explain motivation, and many researchers have come up with a number of theories to explain it. While every theory tries to explain the driving forces behind motivation within a limited scope, all of them have certain common elements.

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is perhaps the most famous theory which explains motivational needs at different levels. Other theories speculate that motivation is caused due to internal instincts, to quell internal tension, to satisfy biological urges, or to get incentivized.

Here are the 7 driving forces behind human motivation:

1Self-actualization

Everyone will try to accomplish what they can, as long as they feel that they have the capacity to do it. Some individuals may have the desire to be a wealthy businessman, while others may want be a successful musician or an athlete.

Self-actualizing needs are a great motivational tool for people to do what they desire.However, for you to realize your full potential, it helps to have mastered all the other needs detailed below.

2. Self-protection

Once the physiological needs have been met, an individual craves for safety and security; this is borne out of a desire for self-protection. While early humans had a completely different idea of staying protected; today, security needs can include safe neighbourhood, access to healthcare, steady employment, and protection from environmental forces. Fulfilling these needs can be a great motivation factor.

3. Love and Belonging

Once an individual has satisfied both their physical and self-protection needs, they crave for social needs; this can be love, affection, and belonging. Humans are social animals, and they are motivated to form meaningful relationships such as friendships, family relations, romantic attachments, and other interpersonal needs that give you a sense of belonging. This is one of the main reasons why humans form social communities, whether it is a family, a friend group, religion, or any other interest group. The need to be accepted and belong to a social group is a strong driving factor behind motivation.

4. Status/Esteem

Every human has a need to command respect and status in society; this also includes self-esteem. It is an important driving factor behind what people do, as they want to feel valued and respected by others. Social recognition, personal worth, and other accomplishments are some of the factors behind driving you to fulfil your self-esteem needs.

A low self-esteem or an inferiority complex can also drive one to stay away from the things they want to do; it is a form of negative motivation. However, just being accepted by others isn’t enough; one has to accept his or her worth internally to have a high self-esteem.

5. Mate Acquisition

One of the main driving factors behind human behaviour, or any other animal behaviour for that matter, is the need to satisfy one’s sexual urges. While sex can be classified under physiological needs, a mate is someone who you want to have an offspring with; one who will help you take your genes forward to the next generation.

A male will try everything in his power to attract a female, while a female would do the same to attract a suitable male. This is one of the main driving factors behind the cosmetics industry, driving the consumer’s motivation to purchase through the need of a higher status and self esteem.

6. Mate Retention

While it is very easy to attract a mate, it is very hard to retain him or her. We present ourselves as an ideal person for our partner to realize that they are worth staying with. In earlier times, a male was expected to provide for his family, while a female used to take care of the family at home. However, this doesn’t apply for all partners in this current age, nowadays you can even expect to see a role-reversal. Nevertheless, mate retention is still one of the driving factors behind human motivation.

7. Physiological Needs

Physiological needs are the most basic needs that are extremely vital for human survival. These include food, water, air, shelter and sleep. As long as a human hasn’t satisfied their most needs, they won’t be motivated enough to seek the others. Hence, these basic needs are the most crucial driving forces behind human motivation.

Human motivation is a very complex thing, and the driving forces behind it can be quite hard to discern. However, if you learn about the link between the different needs and the urge to satisfy them, then you can understand the main driving factors behind human motivation.

Havard is a certified coach, teacher and speaker with the John Maxwell Team. He coaches company directors helping them maximize their strengths. He helps leaders discover how to reach new dimensions in their lives and brings enthusiasm and a renewed vision to every team he teaches.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Nicolas Buis

    Nov 21, 2016 at 6:49 am

    Slice it and dice it however you want, it all comes down to acceptance of our core being and that is why love conquers all. Love is acceptance with appreciation and then some.

  2. ken

    Dec 13, 2013 at 4:43 am

    Great just would’ve wrote the list from 7-1 since psychological is the most basic and bottom of Maslows pyramid

  3. isaac

    Dec 2, 2013 at 6:20 am

    interesting points i love to read them over and over .

  4. Harry @ GoalsOnTrack

    Nov 7, 2013 at 5:06 am

    One of the best ways to motivate oneself is to go out and make some progress on your goals.

  5. Sebastian

    Oct 23, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Most of it boils down to attracting a mate. Do you know why men invented the wheel? Built the pyramid? Flew to the moon? They were trying to get laid. They were trying to be better in order to impress the ladies.

  6. Ragnar

    Oct 22, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Interesting points, and I definitely agree with putting self actualization first. But I would argue that status/esteem is part of seeking love/belonging/better “access” to and retention of mates.

    Hopefully empathy is something that can motivate some of us, although whether or not the motive behind good actions matters is another discussion.

    Peace!

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Motivation

The Importance of Motivation in the Concept of Sociology

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All my childhood, I studied hard and got good grades because I was motivated to escape my mother’s disappointment and wrath on failure. Others in my class were motivated by their desire to excel and get into a good college. Still, others were doing it to maintain their social status and to be recognized as excellent students. The word “motivation” holds a different meaning for different people, as what motivates you may not be sufficient for me and vice versa.  (more…)

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Motivation

8 Things You Can Do Right Now to Get Your Motivation Back

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Welcome to our new normal. A time in our lives that a year ago we certainly didn’t see coming that most of us probably wouldn’t have chosen for ourselves; but here we are. As the days away from each other carry on and more and more bad news comes our way, it’s easy to lose your motivation and waste energy doing things that aren’t helpful like worrying and fighting with people on the internet instead.

Nearly half of Americans report the coronavirus crisis is harming their mental health, according to the Washington Post. While many of us had routines set up to deal with stress in the past, the stress we are facing during this time is unlike anything we’ve experienced before. It’s easy to find yourself in a downward spiral, and that’s the most challenging time to stop the momentum and turn things around. If that’s the case, keep it simple and start to reach for little things to help you feel better and climb your way out.

Here’s a reminder of a few simple things you can do right now to start getting positive momentum going your way:

1. Find someone who was in a similar place and made it to the other side

Whether you’ve been unmotivated to workout, eat healthy, make sales calls or simply do anything, you can find someone who has been there and made it to the other side. Look up some great TED talks, go on YouTube and look up people that motivate you, google them to find their websites. There are short speeches and much longer talks all over the internet, you just need to find someone who you relate to that speaks to you.

2. Do something that you love

When we’re unmotivated, it’s easy to get out of the habit of doing what we love. Sometimes just getting out of bed or away from the tv feels like a chore. Think back to a time in your life when you felt great – what were you doing? What do you absolutely love to do that if you had the time, you would do all day and not realize any time had passed at all? 

Figure out a way to do whatever that is, or a modified version of it if it is something that you aren’t able to do at the present time. Spending time doing what you love will get your mind off of anything that is wrong and allow you to find inspiration.

“If something is important enough, even if the odds are stacked against you, you should still do it.” – Elon Musk

3. Don’t overcomplicate it

Keep it simple. When we’re stuck in a rut, we’ll give ourselves every excuse to not do something. Say you’ve gained some weight; you might tell yourself you need to find the perfect trainer and wait until you have time to cook your meals from scratch each night before you do anything else. Stop trying to overcomplicate it and keep it simple by finding one thing you can do right now, however small that may be. You don’t have to wait until the timing is perfect and the stars align for you to start moving in the direction you want to go.  

4. Get up and get moving

This is probably the last thing you want to do right now, but once you are up and moving, your blood will start flowing. The hardest part is getting started. Day one, get up and do anything to get moving. This is the hardest day if you haven’t in a while because getting up is really the hardest part. Day two, do a little more. Once you start, you’ll build momentum and get back in the habit.

5. Reset your focus

It’s so easy for worry to set in and for our minds to wander to places of what we can’t control. This is not motivating or helpful and we always have a choice to redirect our attention. There is always something we can do right where we are, so bring your focus to the solution instead of the problem and figure out the next step of what you can do. 

One step at a time. Step one, take your attention away from what you can’t control and what you can’t do. Step two, ask yourself questions like “What can I do?” and see what comes to mind. Follow through with the answers you find.

6. Listen to your favorite music

Not much can lift our spirits and put us into a positive vibration more than our favorite music. Feel free to sing along. Find a song that pumps you up and make that your theme song. Put it on anytime you feel down or unmotivated.

7. Expand your knowledge

“In times of change, the learners will inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Quote by Eric Hoffer. In times of change, there is great loss but also great opportunity. Continually learning opens you to new opportunities and leads you to paths you may not have otherwise found.  

“Work like there is someone working twenty four hours a day to take it away from you.” – Mark Cuban

8. Meditate

If you’re already a meditator and got away from it, take some time to come back to it. If you’ve never tried, it can be as easy as setting a timer for five minutes (or less, feel free to start with one or two minutes) and focusing on your breath. Listen to the inhalations and exhalations. Silently say to yourself “in” as you inhale and “out” as you exhale. Even taking a few minutes to do this can help you to calm down and allow your mind to refocus.

When we’re unmotivated, our momentum starts moving in the other direction. Slow down that momentum by trying one of the ideas above. Once you’ve slowed down the momentum, get it moving in the right direction and you’ll be well on your way.

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