I’m running a little late this week. I’d planned to post this Thursday Thought yesterday but it just didn’t happen. OK – it could have happened but I didn’t do it.
What motivates you?
I’ve been thinking lately about motivation. I’ve been wondering why I do what I do and why I don’t do the rest. For some things, there is an obvious reason – I was unable, I made a decision about priority, and so on. But even that doesn’t get me to the root.
I’ve been wondering about the subconscious spiritual, emotional, and relational reasons why I do what I do. As I see it, there are likely three reasons why I do what I do. If you have more suggestions, I welcome your input.
- I want some positive thing
- I want to avoid some negative thing
- I’ve developed a habit and do it because “that’s what I do”
My big concern
What concerns me most is that I think I’m more often motivated by consequence avoidance than I am by receiving a benefit. For example, I pay my taxes because 1) it’s what I do, and 2) I don’t want to pay a fine or go to jail
While both of these are real motivations, I don’t find myself paying taxes because I see the benefit of doing it (healthcare is a popular topic of discussion recently), but because I want to avoid the consequence of not paying my taxes.
Two sides of the same coin?
Now, in some instances it can certainly be said that this consequence avoidance and desire for a benefit are two sides of the same coin. And they sure play out the same. But in terms of motivation, I’m not so sure. One is negative and the other positive.
One is inspiration. The other is fear.
One is running towards. The other is running away.
In that arena, it’s been my experience that desire for a benefit is a stronger and longer-lasting motivation. Sure, consequence avoidance works quickly to modify behavior. But not so much in terms of long-lasting motivation. And beyond that, one speaks of a desire to accomplish or attain while the other to avoid. One speaks of a love for God and a desire for one-ness with him while the other is simply “hell insurance.”
Am I pimping God?
Yeah, that’s what really brought this on. As I think through my relationship with God, I often find myself more concerned with avoiding discipline and not wanting to make him mad than I do with really building my relationship with him and becoming more like him.
That’s a problem.
Oh, that I were more motivated by a deep and abiding love for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That my desire for him overshadowed any fear that might be some other motivation. That I more completely understood God and his immeasurable glory.
How about you?
What do you find to be your strongest motivation?
How do you pursue benefits rather than avoid consequences?
Do you have any suggestions for me?