Being consistently motivated is one of the most important tasks we have in our life, although many people have no idea just how important it is. The reason it is so important is quite simple: the quality of life depends on it. When we are motivated we feel good, and when we are not, we don't! However, knowing what motivates us is another question. And the first thing about how is knowing what actually does motivate us. Self awareness, then, is the beginning of all wisdom. After all, we are all different, and it should come as no surprise we have different motivators.
I say it should come as no surprise that we are all different, but strangely this fact seems to elude most employers in the private and public sectors. They tend to have a one size fits all kind of view of people and this is costing them money. Why? Because the view they almost always have is that the only reason people work is for money, and so their reward structures are invariably harnessed around pay increases – which are costly. What if, instead of paying people more, and potentially demotivating them, which again bizarrely often happens, we gave them what they really wanted and this didn't cost them at all?
To know yourself you have to understand more than the underlying motivators of your personality – the 'basic' four motivators of control, recognition, belonging and mastery. This is because motivation derives not only from personality, but from other elements of the human psyche, namely the self-concept and our expectations or beliefs. This overlay makes understanding what our motivators are more complex than simply doing a personality profile, which can be positively misleading.
There are nine fundamental motivators, and we have all of them in our self, but three predominate; working out which three is what understanding our motivators is about, for when we know this, we can feed the motivators, and so find satisfaction.
The nine motivators are: Meaning (or making a difference), sometimes called The Searcher; Autonomy (or freedom), sometimes called the Spirit; innovation, sometimes called The Creator; mastery, sometimes called The Expert; money, sometimes called The Builder; power, sometimes called The Director; recognition, sometimes called The Star; belonging, sometimes called The Friend; and security, sometimes called The Defender.
A simple, but not wholly accurate way of establishing your top three motivators, is to go through the list and score each out of ten, how much does this mean to me, ten being vital, and 1 meaning not much at all? So, for example, how important is Making a difference to me out of 10? How important to me is belonging out of ten? And so on. When you have done this, rank order your list. Where there are ties, hold them both in mind and then choose which for you is the more important. The key thing is finding the top three.
Once you know this, you can then start applying 'reward strategies' to yourself. To do this you need to think about what 'fuel' drives that particular motivator. Let me, therefore, give you some basic and preliminary ideas about each motivator.
The Searcher wants to make a difference, so ask, what motivates them? And the most generic answer is: quality feedback – Searchers love feedback because when they get it they know they have made that difference! Are we seeking feedback? Similarly, the Spirit wants more opportunities to make their own decisions, more empowerment. The Creator wants more creative problems to solve. So seek these out for yourself!
The Expert loves learning and development – what courses can you go on? The Builder likes material possessions – so let's reset goals and rewards and give ourselves treats; and the Director wants to be given more responsibility – since it increases the sense of power. Where can you request more? How can you, if they are in your profile, actively seek them out?
Finally, the Star wants recognition, so let's think of awards and status; the Friend wants belonging, so how can we be more involved? And the Defender wants security, so feeding that need is more information and knowledge, which we can be more active in seeking out.
If you consider the above and how it applies to you, you will realise that there is a lot you can do to practically increase your own motivation. Now, go for it!