The Opposing Forces of Motivation

Get Results: opposing motivations
Get Results: opposing motivations

Motivation lies at the heart of getting results. Without it you can’t get anything done. However motivation is made up of opposing forces, which makes progress more difficult than it otherwise would be. Let’s first look at the forces that help us move closer to our goals these forces are made up of internal and external supporting motivations.

Internal Supporting Motivations

Become Self Awareness

Self awareness is a key aspect of motivation, simply because it allows you to know why you do and don’t do certain things. If you can hack your subconscious and align your goals in such a way that they fit in with “who you are”, then the journey to achieving them will be a much easier one. This article is designed to allow you to discover and question what is going on inside your head, and force you to take a deeper look at what is helping you and more importantly. hindering you making progress towards your goals.

Take Responsibility

It is so important that you take responsibility for your results. Stop blaming your situation, your living arrangements, your job, stop blaming other people around you, like your spouse, your boss. When you pass blame to someone or something else, you also pass power, the very power you need to do something about it.

When you take responsibility, you empower yourself to find a solution and take action. It is a huge mental shift in the way you approach situations. You become a problem solver instead of a just a problem spotter. You access the creative part of your brain, rather than being in “wait and see what happens” mode, hoping for someone else to sort it out for you.

Tap into your Purpose

If you have purpose, a strong reason why you want or even need your goal, and you desire that goal so much, taking action is going to be that much easier. If you’re about to lose your home because  you can’t make your next mortgage payment, you’re more likely to take that shitty job, than you would if you had a years worth of savings in your bank account. What’s changed, your purpose has. You suddenly have to do something, you have to earn some money or else. This might not be an aspirational purpose like “bringing an end to poverty” or “finding a cure for cancer” but it is a purpose, the purpose of getting money to pay your bills, so you still have a roof over your family’s head. If that purpose is strong, or as desperate enough (as in the case of the previous  example) you are more likely to take action, that you might not otherwise have taken. Purpose doesn’t have to be some romanticised great deed, it just has to work for you, and get you closer to your goals.

Form good habits

Habits are formed to ease the burden on thought processes. We don’t have to mentally process every little thing we do, especially with regards to things we do on a regular basis. We form habits that we just do, without thinking about. This frees our brains to concentrate on other things.

As part of this process we often form bad habits that no longer serve us. The best way of getting rid of bad habits is by replacing them with good ones. To do this you have to begin to take action on a regular basis and do something that serves your goals. If  you want to be a writer, start to write 200-300 words a day. Do this everyday for 30-60 days, after which you will have formed a habit of doing it. Then up the word count by a further 200. when you have done that everyday for a month or so, up it again.

Embrace Change and risk taking

One of the main reasons we fail to take action, is fear, we will deal with fear later in the article when discussing blocking motivations, you might want to read that part of the article first and come back to this section.

“Embracing change” and “risk taking” are the same thing. We resist change because we fear the uncertainty that “change” brings with it. Embracing change is a difficult mind shift, but an essential one, if we’re to grow into our goals.

Many people falsely believe there exists a status quo, some fictional place where everything stays  the same forever. The reality of course is that everything is always changing, and change is part of life. Life and change are inseparable, so face the truth, and stop resisting it. Be excited by the opportunities that come about because of it.

Risk is also a part of life, we risk death every time we walk out the door, every time we get into the car. We risk embarrassment every time we open our mouths, we risk loss of possessions every time we leave the house empty, or every time we put something in our pocket or bag when we go out.  We can try to mitigate risk but we can’t live without being exposed to it.

Live with Gratitude

I’ve included gratitude here because, gratitude adds some perspective to our thoughts. If we are grateful for what we have now, our health, our family and friends, our ability to reason, and make decisions, our ability to communicate and get on with other people, if we are grateful for everything we have, we don’t need to take the attainment of our goals too seriously, so that the fear of not attaining them, paralyses us from reaching optimal performance. We want to achieve our goals but not so badly that not achieving them means we drop into a great depression. Make life a game to be enjoyed, not one that feels like life or death depends on your success, because in most cases it really doesn’t.

External supporting motivations

External supporting motivations come from things we get from other people rather than from within us.


Incentives can be tangible and intangible. Tangible incentives can include money rewards, a chance of winning something like a holiday or prize. Tangible incentives are used to reward us for outstanding performance at work for instance.

Intangible incentives on the other hand are things like getting a pat-on-the-back, or a “well done”, a “thank you for your effort” from someone we respect or have done something for.

Incentives push us to behave in a certain way usually for the benefit of others, but we can use them to help us get results for ourselves. An accountability buddy for instance can spur us on, say “well done” when we do something good, and at the same time put us right when we fail to do it or do something that is counter-productive to our goal attainment.

Internal Blocking Motivations

Fear of ….

Well fear has such a grip on the human psyche, that it stops the majority of people ever pursuing their dreams. Fear is a perceived possible future devaluation of our sense of self, which simply means that we fear the thought of something that “might” happen to us or to things, people or ideas that are important to us.  We fear death, embarrassment, rejection, being negatively judged by others, disappointment, being vulnerable, loss, poverty, the unknown, uncertainty, change, being let down by others, some people even fear success. In fact we fear most things. Fear is a thought about the future, and as we can’t do anything about the future, until it becomes “this moment”. Fear is nothing more than a made up thought or series of thoughts that might happen, but is much more likely not to happen. Stop focusing on what might go wrong and start dreaming about what might go right.

Limiting Beliefs and Values

We’ve all heard the stories of kids that were told they wouldn’t amount to anything, only to go on to become big successes. These people felt they had something to prove, and this motivated them to succeed, but for many, negative reinforcement can kill their motivation, and keep them trapped in mediocrity.

Social conditioning -the environment where we grow up, the people we are surrounded by, the stories we are told has a big impact on how our beliefs and values are formed through childhood and as teenagers, and these values have a major impact on our lives as adults. As the saying goes “If you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right”, the question is where did this belief come from?

Our thoughts are formed by our experiences which are shaped by our actions, reactions, and behaviours which are affected by our thoughts. It’s a cycle that feeds itself. It can be a virtuous cycle or downward spiral. If you can feed your psyche with positive thoughts, beliefs and values, this will positively affect your actions and behaviours, and this will in turn dictate the quality of your experiences and the way people react to you, for the better.

Conflicted Thoughts

If you feel conflicted about your goals you may feel you want them on the one hand, but also feel in some way you don’t want them. When you feel this way, you might sabotage your progress. you might want to be wealthy, but at the same time feel it will ruin important relationships you have presently, and this dampens your motivation to take action to pursue your goal.

Another type of conflict comes in the form of  “want” versus “should” situations. If you have a goal to be thinner, and healthier, but you see a delicious looking cream cake that you really want to eat, you are going to feel torn between “wanting” the pleasure of eating the cream cake and knowing that you “should” reframe from doing so, if you are to achieve your weight loss goal. If you give in and eat the cream cake you are not just failing to moving closer to your goal, but are in-fact moving further away from it, which is likely to make you feel even worse. “Wanting”, more often than not outweighs “should” as a mental choice calculation. This is why we so often give in to temptation. The best way to overcome this is avoid situations that present such a choice in the first place. If there is no cream cake waiting for you in the fridge, you aren’t going to feel you are missing out on it.

Moving forward

Overcoming the blocking motivations by strengthening the supporting motivations is the name of the game. If we can have stronger supporting motivations and hack our blocking motivations we stand a better chance of progressing towards our goals.

Become more self aware, take responsibility, have a strong purpose, replace bad habits with good ones, embrace change and risk, be happy and grateful with the positives in your life today, get help from others and get them to reward you for good behaviour. Be less fearful of your imagination, lose those limiting beliefs and straighten out your conflicted thoughts about your goals. Do this and success is your next destination.

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