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.