I’ve been asking myself this question for most of my adult life. As a child, I was innately motivated by competition. In everything I did, I had to be the best, whether I was competing against someone else of just myself. Naturally, this led me into the world of sports, where I focused a lot of my attention and energy through my teenage years.
When I gave up playing sports competitively, it left a noticeable void in my life. I lacked a clear vision for what would motivate me to succeed in the future. Without that pressure to keep me disciplined to work hard toward a goal, I stumbled through various college programs until I gave up trying to find a meaningful purpose for my life.
Instead, I settled for a job I could do and turned my attention to my new family, a wife and growing number of children (which currently stands at four). But after nearly nine years at a job I didn’t particularly like (but also wasn’t sure I could ever leave), I finally restarted the journey of pursuing something better.
As I have been searching not only for a more fulfilling career, but also the reason for it, I have come across many others in the process of doing the same thing, or something similar. And as I recently learned (see video below), there are four things that motivate most people:
- Money (material things and gaining wealth)
- Mating (sexual or romantic desire)
- Momentum (freedom to do what you want and always growing)
- Mastery (status or being great at something)
To varying degrees, we may rely on each of these for different goals at different points in our lives. For me, I’ve realized mastery is the key motivating factor for me while I’m pursing a different career path. Once I reach that goal, I think it will switch to momentum, even though mastery will remain significant since technology is constantly changing.
Knowing I have never been motivated as much by money, I struggled for a long time to find what my motivation could or even should be. Now that I feel more motivated by working toward a goal, I’m able to accept that it probably will not provide any sort of ultimate fulfillment.
What motivates you on a daily basis to work toward your goals?