Motivation is the cornerstone of progress in our lives. In entrepreneurship circles this is often referred to as “your why.” Your why is the ultimate reason you do things.
Almost everyone has at least some answer as to their why. Parents will commonly say their reason to work hard is their children. People who work in social services might claim their motivation comes from helping others. Anyone involved in community action could believe their purpose is creating positive change in the community.
No matter how many times you’ve thought about your why, I’m gonna guess you’re subconsciously lying to yourself. Your why has been created based on society, expectations, and platitudes. Read on if you want to uncover your true why.
Socially Acceptable Why
If you are somebody who already knows your why, chances are it is very superficial. Society has molded your vision of what is possible for “someone like you.” Expectations from loved ones have limited your ability to change because “someone like you” doesn’t do that. Platitudes keep you stagnant because age old wisdom seems wiser than “someone like you.”
I call socially acceptable why’s Level One. These level one superficial reasons are problematic in many ways. If you feel you have already identified your why, you will stop looking for any deeper reasons to motivate yourself. When you have the wrong why in your head and heart it won’t motivate you to change your behavior and affect your life’s outcome. You will feel guilt if you’re working towards a particular goal and aren’t able reach it because you just aren’t properly motivated.
“Why” That Lives in Your Head
There is a secondary level of desire that you like to think about but you never really let the idea out of your head. You never let these daydreams out of your head because they seem slightly too impractical to say out loud. Fear of being judged prevents you from telling other people that you imagine a particular outcome for yourself. This “why” never motivates you into action because you’re constantly telling yourself that fantasy is out of reach.
You like to imagine yourself driving a Tesla, but you don’t see any practical path to actually buying one. Even without any practical path to obtaining one, the idea consistently lives in your head because it’s fun to think about. You visualize sitting on a sandy beach in the Maldives sipping a fruity drink, but you tell yourself the sea plane alone is more than your mortgage payment. A vacation like that doesn’t seem plausible, yet you still like to daydream about it.
Sometimes, almost by luck or enough time passing, some of these ideas do come to reality. However, they don’t happen because the actual idea was enough to motivate you into action. That’s confusing for your mind and overall goal setting, because you think you’ve worked toward that goal. In fact, reaching that goal was just a coincidence.
The “Why” You Kick in the Face
The final level of life goals are the ones you don’t even allow yourself to think about. This third level of desire enters your mind and you immediately kick the idea in the face. You tell yourself that dream life is way way way too far fetched to give it any space in your brain.
What most people don’t realize is these crazy, insane, big, dreams are the only ones capable of changing your behavior. The pain of not reaching your socially acceptable goals or the pleasure of obtaining the life that lives in your head, neither are enough. Only kick it in the face ideas are big enough to motivate you to change behavior.
When I talk about kick them in the face ideas, I mean quit your job, live in a villa on the beach, and disconnect from social media kind of dream life. You could secretly dream of living on a vineyard in Italy or wish you could surf every morning and horseback ride every afternoon with no responsibilities. Whatever your take your breath away fantasy life looks like, that’s your secret weapon to motivation.
Use That Motivation
Once you realize that fleeting thought could actually be fostered into your daily life, it is a game changer. Switch your mindset to how to create that life instead of repeatedly rolling your eyes and saying that dream is impossible. Proper motivation is the secret to changing behavior. All these years your why has been wrong because it’s kept you from moving forward toward what you actually want.
Your why needs to create enough pleasure that you’ll make sacrifices, do things you’ve never done, and make different choices leading to different results. Only the level three, kick it in the face idea is pleasurable enough to make those changes.
Your Why Doesn’t Need Input
Part of the reason we are so quick to kill our own dreams is because of judgement from others. Once we tell our loved ones, our co-workers, our neighbors, or anyone else who will listen, it invites input. But your why doesn’t need anybody’s input. Your why doesn’t need to make sense to anybody else.
I don’t drink wine, so living on a vineyard doesn’t sound appealing to me, but I’m smart enough to know not to offer my opinion on someone else’s dream. You might not be so lucky to have a cheering squad behind your dream life. Any negative input you hear, I give you permission to dismiss it.
At the end of your life, it’s you who has to be content with your decisions. If people offering their two cents are happy with their life, good for them. You want something out of your life and it is worth chasing.