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Motivation War: Money VS Happiness

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Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

What type of motivation is the most successful at helping people achieve their goals?


I have had several conversations on the topic of motivation recently, and it has come to my attention that motivation is widely misunderstood. Everyone has fallen into the same trap of blaming a lack of motivation for not getting something done. I have no motivation to put in the extra work it would take to get that promotion. There were many times I lay sprawled on my bed, moaning about how I had no motivation to clean my house for the 48363 time.


No more bitching, and complaining that your motivation has abandoned you for a younger, hotter version – YOU need to get yourself motivated. If I were to ask you what motivates you in your job, your answer would probably revolve around money. Or maybe you feel motivated by the work hours, the job perks, or your proximity to where you work. These all seem like reasonable things to be motivated by, a lot of people feel this way.


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Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash


It’s important that you look at motivation in a different light, your inner driving force stems deeper than simple material wishes.


The definition of motivation, according to, is as follows:


  1. the act or an instance of motivating, or providing with a reason to act in a certain way: I don’t understand what her motivation was for quitting her job.
  2. the state or condition of being motivated or having a strong reason to act or accomplish something: We know that these students have strong motivation to learn.
  3. something that motivates; inducement; incentive: Clearly, the company’s long-term motivation is profit.


If you look at definition #2 there are three words that stand out – strong – reason – accomplish. The definition of motivation shows us that we must be active to be in a motivated state. You cannot expect motivation to appear on your doorstep, you need to have a strong reason to want to take action. Things like money, and work hours are extrinsic motivators – they are outside of yourself – and external motivators will only take you so far.


There is a theory called the hedonic treadmill, and when broken down to it’s core, means – happiness doesn’t last. This does not mean that you a destined to be unhappy forever, it means that the initial euphoria you felt during an experience cannot last. Eventually, your mood and level of happiness will return to a baseline. This is why money is not a great motivator, after you receive a raise you will only be happier for a short period of times before your happiness returns to your own personal baseline.


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Photo by Trust “Tru” Katsande on Unsplash


Look inside yourself, and think about what it is you actually want. If you look are your career for example, an intrinsic – internal – motivator is a desire to be your own boss instead of working for someone else. Once you change your mindset from a passive, external motivator – to an active, internal motivator you will achieve what you set to accomplish. A strong internal motivator will guide you through Maslow’s Hierarchy towards the top – Self-Fulfillment.


I am personally motivated to be as free as possible. In my career, and in my personal life all I want is the freedom is do what I want – when I want. For the most part, I’m still a mom after all. Now that I’ve set a goal that will bring me self-fulfillment, I find myself overflowing with the motivation I need to achieve that goal.


Is your current motivation an external or internal one? If your currently driven by an external motivation, what internal ones can you think to replace them with?


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