Motivation is the reason behind all of your actions, desires, and needs.
Put simply: it’s why you do everything that you do and why you want everything that you want. It’s why you wake up in the morning and go to work. It’s why you want Thai food for lunch. It’s why you hit the gym on the way home… or head straight for the sofa and grab a cold beer.
In this article I’ll explore what I like to call the ‘motivation paradox’. You see, acknowledging and understanding your motivations is crucial because it allows you to live a ‘better’ life that’s more in line with your values. But it’s not always good. Oftentimes we have ‘bad’ motivations or motivations we don’t fully understand that can still lead us to taking action and ultimately improving our lives.
On one hand, it’s good to understand why you want everything that you do. It leads to more self-awareness and better decisions. On the other hand, it’s quite common for ‘bad’ or undefined motivations to help us take action and get off our asses. Read the rest of this article to see exactly what I mean.
What Motivates You?
When you take the time to explore your motivations, you’ll quickly realize that your motivation for doing or wanting certain things is obvious, while it’s rather ambiguous and vague for others.
There’s a lot to be said for understanding your motivations. When you know why you want something or why you engage in particular activities, you become more self-aware. You’re able to analyze your actions and decisions from a more enlightened perspective. You stop living life on ‘autopilot’.
For example, when I’m working with a new training client at the gym and they tell me they want to burn fat and lose weight, I immediately ask, “Why?” Their first answer is usually something generic like, “Because I want to be healthy and look better.”
So I continue, “And why do you want to be healthy and look better?” They usually get embarrassed and respond impulsively, “Because why not?!”
At this point, I sit back in my chair, take a breath, and try to make them comfortable digging deeper, “I get that, I really do. But what motivated you to come all the way to the gym, set up an appointment with me, and want to dedicate all this time to losing weight?”
After some reflection, and a few more attempts to brush me off, the truth usually comes out. Maybe they want to lose fat because they haven’t had sex in months and they want to feel sexier and more attractive in the bedroom. Maybe one of their parents recently died of an obesity-related disease. Maybe they want to have a baby, and they’re afraid they won’t be able to play with it and pick it up without quickly getting worn out.
The funny thing is, they often didn’t even realize this motivation for losing weight until I kept digging deeper and repeatedly asking “Why?” But now that they’ve taken the time to uncover their real motivations, they almost always start to take more action. Going to the gym no longer is a boring chore they hate. Now it’s a stepping stone to more intimacy in their marriage, a longer life, or a more fulfilling relationship with their future child. And that’s more than enough to fuel their new gym habit.
But, this isn’t always the case…
Even Blind Action Leads to Self-Improvement
Now let’s explore the flip side of the coin: when your motivations are not so clear, or worse, when they’re rooted in weakness or insecurity.
For example, back in university when I got into lifting weights I never really thought too much about why I was doing it. All I knew was that I wanted to lift weights and get big.
Looking back, it’s clear that it was because I was insecure. I was looking for validation. I thought getting big would make me more popular among my roommates and male friends. And I hoped it would get me laid… A couple bullshit reasons for sure.
But it got me taking action. It caused me to work out every single day for years and years. It taught me an extreme sense of discipline. And it got me to build a beastly body, too.
Over time my motivation for lifting shifted from wanting to impress other people to having few other hobbies in my life, and doing it mainly to fill time. Now? I continue to lift weights religiously because I love it. I thoroughly enjoy pushing myself in the gym, learning new types of exercises, and watching my body grow stronger.
And let’s not forget that my passion for lifting weights the primary reason I quit my corporate job, became a personal trainer, started this website, and self-published over 7 books… And reached thousands of men in the process.
So yes, my initial motivations were based in insecurity… But fuck it! It led me to taking action that eventually led to huge personal transformation.
Understand Why, But Take Action Regardless
As you can see, even ‘bad’ motivations can lead you to taking action and growing immensely over time.
Another brief example from my life would be when I decided to get better with women. I was sick and tired of watching all my friends get laid, and then going home and jerking off to internet porn. I desperately wanted to get in on the action.
So I started reading books on ‘picking up’ and seducing women. And it got me going out more and actually talking to women. And eventually I got comfortable doing so. And then I got laid. And then I found myself in some amazing long term relationships.
My motivations sucked. Yet again I was insecure and trying to ‘fix’ myself. I felt that women and sex was an area where I needed to succeed in order to ‘complete’ myself… And again it caused me to take action. And over time my motivations shifted. Now I pursue women, romance, and sex because I thoroughly enjoy spending time – and getting intimate – with attractive women who I also get along with.
But again – I never would have made it to this point if I had hadn’t initially been motivated by weakness and insecurity. It made me take action. And it ultimately improved my life.
So what do I want you to take from this article?
I want you to take the time to understand your motivations: what motivates you? Why do you want to build muscle? Why do you want to get better with women? Why do you want to start a business?
Dig deeper. Ask yourself why. Be brutally honest with yourself.
Even if you do realize that the main reason you want to build muscle is to impress your friends… Or that the main reason you want to get better with women is to ‘fix’ yourself – that’s okay too! There’s no ‘right’ answer here. Even if you realize that you’re being motivated by insecurity, embrace it. There’s nothing to be shameful of.
Embrace your motivations. Embrace your desires. And take action on them. That is how you will grow. That is how you will become a better man.
Cool stuff and good advice. Do not be ashamed of your insecurities, they are just a part of the human experience.
What I will say is that this kind of honesty becomes especially rewarding in discussions and when asking for help. It used to be intuitive to me to make up reasons why I think or want certain stuff. But because I did that, I could never accept advice – because the people who were giving me advice were assuming different motivations in my actions than I really had.
You can say ‘I want to dominate women’ and justify it with ‘It is the evolutionary natural thing’. And then you get into pointless discussions about whether that is true. Or you can simply acknowledge that that is what you want to do because it turns you on. Debate that!
Hey Tom – great point! That makes a lot of sense.
It’s so easy to ignore people who are trying to give you advice and write them off because they “don’t get it” when in reality you are NOT sharing your real motivations with them (probably out of shame) so they CANNOT “get it”!
Hey David,, Great article!! Has tocado un buen punto, tienes que poner en acción esa motivación, si no no estas en nada. Yo he leído muchos artículos de pick up and seducing women, después que mi relación de 6 años terminó, pero realmente he hecho eso como reacción a la soledad que sentí cuando ya no estaba en la relación. He leido mucha información, pero he decidido ya dejar de leer cosas de pick up and seducing women y empezar a tomar acción, es mejor tomar acción y aprender de la experiencia, que aplicar todos lo que dicen los pick up artists y los “expertos” en relaciones, he aprendido que cada relación es única y cada truco y pick up technique no va a funcionar siempre. Para mi lo más importante es tomar masiva accion como tu dices, con intención with boldness!! Yo he leído mucho sobre mujeres, pero no he puesto nada en acción, entonces esa información no me sirve para nada si no la pongo en acción!! Take care buddy!
Si claro! Taking action leads to a deeper level of understanding and confidence that reading ever can (whether it’s about women, business, fitness, or anything).
Pensandolo bien, creo que mi true motivación no es getting laid often(with different women) and get several women, my true motivation is to have a hot girlfriend to have a great time and sex with, and not jumping from one night stand to the next, of course, that would be exciting, but maybe I dont want to hurt nobodys feelings, those are night stands are emotional dangerous! Haha maybe I am sounding like a pussy here!
Pero que es tu motivación para tener una novia? Why do you want a girlfriend? Try and go one level deeper!
Completely agree David. I know a guy who was morbidly obese. He had an unhealthy obsession with a girl and was determined to lose weight to get her. He reached a healthy weight, didn’t get the girl and put the weight back on plus more. Fast forward to present, he’s running in endurance races after meeting another girl who lives overseas. I can’t see the (platonic) relationship developing but I’m pretty sure whatever happens he won’t go back to his morbidly obese self. Good on him I say!
Haha damn! That’s quite the story man. And a great anecdote and addition to the article. You think he’d have learned his lesson by now, but at least his motivations are crystal clear I suppose…
Hey David, thanks for writing this. For me, my motivation why I want to be beastly is, well I admit, out of insecurity and I want to be better with women.
You see I am also the nerdy type, I’m a structural engineer and introvert. I think my introversion is what drove me to “hate” how I’m going on because I felt I robbed myself of the opportunity to build relationships with friends and especially women. I came to the point of focusing solely on my job and my family and I felt I already lost my identity in the process. I want to get my life back, I want to be a beast, a one hell of a man like you always emphasized.
The catch here is I’m already married, have two kids, sons to be specific. Yes I know Dave that this is a “shitty” kind of motivation but fvck it! I aint going to spend my life regretting what I would’ve wanted to do which was socializing and bedding other women other than my wife. Yup I figured I’m finding validity through a sexual relationship with other women…
Your site’s a great help really, it has some sort of a spiritual journey to it. Keep it up bro.
Thanks for the comment and the kind words Angmama – being honest with yourself really is key.
Great. We have to find out our true motivation, otherwise we will only be caught up in all kind of lies. Many people even start believing their own lies and wonder why there life is going straigth to hell.
Thanks Oliver. And right on – understanding your true motivations is the best way to make sure you’re actually living a life that’s not a giant lie… and actually getting to know yourself on a deeper level.
Powerful! I love how you emphasized action above all else. Taking action regardless whether your motivations are crystal clear or not is a stepping stone to “purifying” those intentions. It also keeps one from overanalyzing things and not taking action at all.
Exactly – thanks for rephrasing it in such a clear way Caleb!
Yeah, Joe, we can pick a phony out (snap your fingers real quick)like that! But, I think a lot of guys fergot what natural is when they’re talking to a girl. It’s like having a thousand people watch you walk across the stage and you realize you’ve forgotten how to walk.
This was really helpful. Especially what you said about even ‘bad’ motivations like weakness or insecurity can lead you to improve. I realize I never was really honest about this with myself and thought I should have ‘good’ motivations to do things.
Stay with this guys, you’re helping a lot of people.
You couldn’t pay me to ignore these posts!
true being honest counts a lot but how can you be able to co-op with so many tasks at a go like having a job, school ,church and a girlfriend plus also the gym? One’s Focus won’t be altered?