The Interplay Between Goals and Motivations

We all have goals. They are as diverse as we humans are: that’s a good thing. Our goals may be to graduate from university, get a job, move to a new city or any other desire. And similarly, our motivations for achieving our goals are just as diverse. Comparing and contrasting the goal with the motivation will lead to some incredible personal insights into one’s desires and expectations.

Sometimes goals and motivations can be the exact same thing. The more basic the motivation the more likely the goal will match. Take hunger for an example. The goal and the motivation align perfectly. The goal is to eat and the motivation is to fill your empty stomach. When goals and motivations match one can then focus on the means, or solution, to achieve the goal. Though knowing what the solution is just the first step. One has to put forth effort on the solution. For me, knowing that the solution for the long grass in my lawn is to mow it, doesn’t take the place of actually mowing it. (Note: I hate yardwork).

Sometimes goals and motivations differ in slight ways. They still align, but are not perfect matches. These are harder to understand and harder to solve. An example could be the goal of a clean house. Yet, the underlying motivation is to have a tidy home free of clutter and disorganization. Just cleaning the house will not achieve tidiness. Recognizing that fact requires more thought and care toward the solution.

Sometimes goals and motivations don’t align well at all. These situations represent the most complex of problems for they require considerable abstract thinking and painstaking thought to solve. Sometimes we don’t understand the interplay between what we do and why we do it. It requires introspection.

To further complicate things sometimes there are surface motivations and then there are deeper, underlying, motivations. Deciphering these different layers of our desires takes effort. Effort we avoid because we’re tired or sad or feeling stress or have to household chores. In the modern world, at least for most of the time pre-COVID19, we didn’t have time to reflect on ourselves. With many nations having lock-down directives perhaps now is a perfect time to contemplate on what you want and, more importantly, on why you want it.

My goal is to be a published author, to earn an income from my writing. It’s as good a goal as any. My underlying motivation for writing is something I realized only recently. It’s not to be famous. Not to be rich beyond imagination. Not to be respected. Though I do want these things to varying degree. My ultimate motivation is to leave behind something tangible for my children. Something, that long after I’m gone, they can look at and nod, “My father wrote this.” Not just look at it, but like it. Perhaps, even cherish it. Though that is for them to ultimately decide.

It’s hard to quantify this deeper motivation. It’s love. It’s hope. It’s legacy. It’s a want to be remembered. It’s a need. It’s me.
It’s want any parent would want, I think: to be cherished and remembered by his/her children with love. I want to achieve that, in part, with the words I leave behind.

Goals are the what. Motivation is the why. Effort is the how. Knowing what each variable is, is important. I’ve come up with an equation that sums up my thoughts: (Goal + Motivation) x Effort = Success. Now what this equation shows, at least to me, is that when the goal and motivation are joined together it’s easier to apply effort to them equally to achieve your success, whatever you’ve defined success to be.

Writing that equation is easy. Thinking about each step, forging a path from left to right, understanding each stop along the way, is hard. I think it’s worth exploring. For me, even if I don’t become famous, don’t become a respected author among the masses, don’t become rich, at least I’ll have my writings for my children to read. In the end, that reward is priceless.

Photo by Mischa van Lieshout from FreeImages

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