A Motivation Theory To Try Right Now

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” —Amelia Earhart

A good motivation theory must acknowledge that we are all motivated in different ways. This is taken into account in many ways in the practice of neuro-linguistic programming, or "NLP." The concept of "away-from" and "towards" personalities is one of the more useful NLP theories.

Of course, both modes of operation are a part of how we operate, but one is often dominant in each of us. Those whose motivation is dominated by the "towards" motivation will be more affected by thoughts of future rewards. Those who have a strong "away-from" motivational style will be more influenced by thoughts of getting out of pain or trouble.

Why not take this quiz to see which motivational style best fits your personality? Just take a look at the following two examples of what having millions of dollars could mean to you.

  1. You are completely safe and secure. You'll never have to go back to work or do anything you don't want to. You have the ability to easily solve the majority of your problems. You have everything you require to feel free and at ease.

  2. You've got the house of your dreams, as well as your favorite car. You can buy whatever you want for yourself and your friends, and you can do whatever you want with it. You are capable of achieving any of your aspirations.

If you identify more with the first description, you have a "away-from" personality. If the second description motivates you more, you have a "towards" personality. Both types have advantages and disadvantages. Individuals who are "towards" make good entrepreneurs, but they frequently get into trouble because they do not plan well enough to avoid problems. "Away-from" people are good at managing their time and avoiding problems, but they struggle with big goals.

So, how do you put this motivation theory and this self-awareness to the best possible use? Assume you want to increase your earnings and are a "towards" person. You'll want to imagine what you'll buy and do with that money, but keep in mind that you might be glossing over some issues. If you're a "away-from" person, you'll have to keep reminding yourself how much of a mess you'll make if you fail. Otherwise, once you've reached a certain level of comfort, you'll lose motivation.

Of course, knowing these two motivational styles will make it easier for you to influence others. If you wanted to sell someone a new car, for example, you'd need to figure out whether they're motivated away from or toward things. For the former, you could explain how this new car will eliminate the hassles of owning a used car and make life easier. You'd explain how great they'll look in it or what it can do for the latter.

You can experiment with this theory and practice influencing others with it, but don't forget to influence yourself. While this motivation theory is useful for understanding and influencing others, it is best applied to your own self-improvement.