The 3 types of motivations and how to use them effectively

One of my favourite things to do while coaching clients, is decipher their core motivators.

You might want to bookmark this post for reference and forward it to friends who can benefit. 

I’ve realized that it boils down to 3 core types. And we all embody all three at different points:

  • Desperation: This is where they feel like the world will end/ bad things will happen/ they will die if they don’t get the desired outcome. So they take action in a desperate attempt to stave off the otherwise inevitable outcome. I’ll explain the pros and cons of this in a second…
  • Rationalization: This is where they have thought about what they want to do and they have MANY good reasons to do it. These are all reasons that look terrific on paper. They make logical sense. The more reasons there are, the more there’s this unconscious pressure that builds up where their “purpose” now feels like a burden because they SHOULD or HAVE TO do it the way it’s been rationalized.
  • Inspiration: You know you’re playing from inspiration when you have this electricity to your thoughts – where you have butterflies in your belly and need to take the action in question almost for no good reason. In fact, inspiration often presents as the opposite of rationalization – the timing is terrible, you don’t have all the pieces or resources and you have to take some sort of risk. But you can’t help yourself. It’s like finding your favourite chocolate cookie in the cupboard right after you decide to go no-carb.

How to use the 3 types of motivations

This isn’t to villify any of the types of motivation. We can do brilliant things starting from any of these places. But only one of them will allow us to get to our goal and still have the energy to enjoy ourselves. 

The other two might bring us to our goal, but we’ll often get there burnt out, exhausted and mistrusting ourselves because getting what we wanted came at such an immense cost.

 There’s no point denying you feel desperate when you do. Or ignoring your rational mind. These voices are important. So here’s how to work in harmony:

Desperation is a great igniter of action. Desperation can be the force we need to pop us out of inertia or inaction. But it is fast burning and tends to burn us out longer term. So you can start from desperation, but understand that it’s best to look for a way to switch to inspiration ASAP so you have staying power.

Rationalization is a fantastic tool for reassuring both self and key stakeholders. But it’s a front. If you do things purely because they’re logical (when you don’t deep down want to do them just because… all accomplishments will feel emptyish). 

Some of us are wired to be more analytical and I find rationalization can be a great step 2 to create “legs” under your inspiration.

In other words, you want to start with something that inspires you and then use rationalization to create supporting arguments for why it’s worth pursuing. Don’t worry if you only come up with a handful of reasons. Tables don’t need 100 legs – they only need 4 to be solid. It’s the same with inspired ideas. Just have 3-4 solid rationalizations to support your inspiration and you’re good to go.

How to know if you’re inspired?

This is where the mind-body connection comes into play. Reread my definition of inspiration above. Notice how I include visceral or body-based feelings. Your body is your compass when it comes to inspiration. Butterflies, bursts of energy, goosebumps, feelings of euphoria, a sense of 50-50 fear and excitement – all of these signal inspiration.

Listen to your body. It’s an incredible tool to excavate your truth.

How does it all come together?

Imagine wanting to lose weight. 

It might start with desperation – a feeling of deeply desiring change (which might even be fueled by self-loathing). Desperation will ignite action – you might be motivated to seek out a coach or eating program. 

But here’s where it becomes REALLY important to switch your motivation to something healthier – like inspiration (fueled by self-love). 

If you choose your coach or diet or exercise program with just desperation, it will colour your choices. You’ll choose fast over sustainable. You’ll choose a quick fix over something that supports your wellbeing and works with your body’s survival mechanisms instead of against them.

You see how this messes things up and actually reinforces desperation long-term (when your diet inevitably fails and you feel even more defeated)?

Instead, a great way to transition to inspiration might be to feel (both emotions and physical sensations) what it would feel like to be in a body that’s lean and healthy. A body that feels energetic and well. Imagine how you want your day to go in that body – how do you approach food. How does eating make you feel? How do you move and how do you rest?

Notice you’re using both your body and your mind to find these answers 

This is how rationalization can actually lead to inspiration.

When you feel love for your body and genuinely want it to be well. Where you can see a future in which your food, movement and wellbeing choices run effortlessly on autopilot and are joyful instead of punitive, it’s going to have you seeking a very different sort of coach or program.

Now you’ll be seeking something that fits with your feelings of inspiration and well being. You’ll choose sustainable even if it takes longer. You’ll be vigilant around anything that is based on the premise that the body is stupid or not to be trusted. Instead you’ll seek guidance that works with your body’s innate wisdom.And the results you’ll create will be vastly different from anything you created from desperation. And when you get to your goal, you won’t be tired. You’ll be lit up.

Want to learn more about how to “physualize” (my word for visualizing with both your mind and body)? I’ve dedicated a whole chapter to it in my book How to Live Your Vision: Manifest Your Dream Reality in Less Than 15 Minutes A Day

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© 2021 Geeta Nadkarni Media Inc.


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