First posted on Dev Letters
Motivation - Something that we all struggle with, and we all want to solve.
Being motivated through the entirety of your life sounds like a dream goal, right? If you could only manage that, you can achieve anything in life.
But motivation is tricky. You have watched all the GaryVee videos online and you are still not where you want to be. You might be wondering why that is?
In that case, a better question to ask is - what it is that separates you from the achievers (Bill Gates, Elon Musk, etc)?
We will get to that later but first, let's discuss why motivational videos don't work. It's because they give you artificial motivation. It's like taking a drug, it has its effect for some time and then it goes away.
Popular motivation gives you a temporary dopamine rush, that's all. It's not permanent and it won't change your life.
Does this mean watching any motivational video is a waste of time?
No, in some cases, you will learn some life/philosophical things you are missing and that can help you become a better version of yourself. So, watching motivational videos help in that case.
But this will only happen when you are watching real-life successes who are being honest with you. Like, watching a motivational video by Elon Musk or Gary Vee. If you are watching one by any so-called motivator, then it wouldn't contain that depth since they lack that life experience.
So choose your motivators wisely. But even when you do that, this is not a fool-proof, works-100% motivation fix.
So what's next? Another way I see motivation manifest itself is by fear.
Fear of losing grades, fear of being fired, fair of being ridiculed etc. Basically, any fear will do. But the issue with a fear-based motivational approach is that you need fear. And that's easier said than done.
A fear can only act as fear if it is justified in your heart. For example, you decide to compete in the boxing competition next week. In that case, the fear of losing won't be real for you since you are not a boxer and you know that you can't win.
Similarly, you can't use fear to motivate you against starting a million dollar company, you know that your job pays you just well to meet all expenses and you don't actually fear not starting a million dollar company.
It would have been different if you are son/daughter of a successful family though, in that case, expectations on you are so high that you might actually fear to stay in a job and not starting a company.
But again, fear only works if it is real. It's possible to artificially produce fear but it's not sustainable.
You can do this by putting up a bet against achieving something. For example, I will go to the gym every day (except Sundays :-) else I lose 100$, per day.
This might work but you can't map this model to every goal of yours. For example, try to map it into a creative, non-rational endeavor.
I will become a popular singer else I don't get to eat my favorite food. How do you define "popular" here? Sure, you can try to rationalize the irrational by putting it like "I will practice singing 10hrs/day or I lose 100$". Yes, that can work but I wonder how far you can go like this.
which brings us to the last point, the way the real achievers in life are motivated.
Internal motivation - Internal motivation means you are motivated from within yourself. Think of it like when you did everything to collect all Pokemon cards, or when you played Cricket for 5 hrs a day. You didn't need any motivation to do that because you were internally motivated to do it.
So what are you internally motivated to do now? I think making that into a career would be the best way to stay motivated throughout your life.
People like Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk are internally motivated. Jeff's motivation could be to control the entire business landscape on Earth and Elon's could be to help better prepare humanity for the future.
Similarly, you need to find what you are internally motivated to do to have the best (most pure) chance at motivation. That's pretty much it.
PS - You should also read "How to find your best career fit".
Top comments (5)
Interesting premise. I would be cautious suggesting there is one (using the definite article “the”) and a “correct” motivation. I think there are many, and they change over time.
I got into software development because I was sick and tired of being well-educated, yet poor (my degrees are in Music). Financial success is stil one of my motivations, but I have since come to love the craftsmanship of quality software.
It’s also true that our motivations may not always be “noble”. Being a musician in high school was as much about being attractive to girls as it was pursuing the magic of musicial expression. What gets you in the door might not keep you there. I would say that’s okay.
Our industry, like Life, isn’t one-size-fits-all. There is, I would say more than ever, a panoply of people from all walks of life with all sorts of motivations for being here. Maintaining a level of fluidity, inside and outside ourselves, will serve us well.
You are right. I changed the title to "The various levels of motivation".
Financial success can be defined as a fear of being poor or fear of earning below a certain income. I think that is one of my main motivations too, and that's fine. I think "fear" plays a major part in motivation. I wonder was that fear that got you into playing music in high school (missing out on girls) or was that the excitement of success (being attractive to girls) 🤔. There is a difference and I think internal motivation (in the context of the term used here) is more of an "excitement of success" based motivation.
Haha, both! The fear of not being attractive AND the excitement at the success.
Internal motivation is a good one. I think the main symptom of internal motivation is that you enjoy the doing not the having. ie I enjoy playing guitar because I like the experience. The goal is not to be a good guitarist, the goal is to play guitar. The latter will tend towards the former, but not the other way around.
You are right, I didn't think of it like that. It makes perfect sense.