Values Drive Motivation


Lack of motivation is an issue can be dealt with on two different levels. One aspect of it can be addressed by tactical "tips & tricks." This is what you work on when your reasons for doing something are pretty clear, but for whatever reason you're having trouble getting over some specific hurdles.

The other aspect is much more broad and, I'd argue, more important. A lack of motivation is usually a situation where your values and the actual work you have to do are at some sort of disconnect. If you know what your values are and you can't see how doing a specific project supports them at all, then you're likely to not have any motivation. More commonly, people don't even really know what their values are. They have a vague sense of what they might be but haven't actually sat down and thought about them enough to really make them clear. When you have crystal clear values it's much easier to tie your everyday tasks into them and thus eliminate most motivation issues.


With that in mind, the first step to address any motivation problem is to first work on your underlying values. Come up with a list of values by thinking about the people you admire, how you view yourself, and what you consider to be the "ideal you." It can be helpful to look at a list of possible values if you're really feeling stuck. Once you have a large list of values (of varying importance to you) it's time to figure out which are the 3 or 4 that really drive you. One way to figure out which ones you really care about the most is just to start writing about them. Write about why it's so important to you, how you manifest it in your life, and how you want to improve on it in the future. If you have trouble explaining in writing why a value is so important to you, I'd argue that it's not that important. You should feel passionate about these values to the point where you can easily and clearly explain why they're so vital.

Once you have your list of 3 to 4 values that you've written about and clarified in your own mind, you need to make sure they stay visible. These need to become like second nature to you. Everything you do should be tied to these values as much as possible. Minimizing the number of things you have to do that don't support your values at all is the ultimate goal.


You've got a list of values and you've got a list of current projects. Now it's time to tie these two separate concepts together. Some of them might be very easy to correlate -- others, not so much. It's up to you to figure out what the connections are and how strong those connections need to be. I'm sure some of your projects are only on your list because you need to earn money -- but why do you need money? How does money tie to your values? Does it allow you to take more trips or do nice things for your wife or give you the freedom to pursue a hobby? Figure out the connection, tie it to your project, and write it down.

I know that you probably have some projects and tasks that you only do because they're expected of a responsible adult like yourself. Sure, "paying bills" may seem like a valueless/mindless task, but I'll bet you can reframe it in a way that supports your values. How about, providing for your family? Or creating a calm and stable home environment? Or responsibility and reliability? You can reframe almost anything in a way that will excite your mind more than what it might at face value.

When values are clearly tied to projects, it should be easier to build motivation to do them. You aren't just designing a website, your learning a new skill, earning money to support a passionate hobby, or challenging yourself with a difficult task. You need to make a connection between the task and your value in order to root it in something greater than your immediate situation. Tying values and tasks together allows you to transcend your current level of energy, emotions, and thoughts (to a certain extent) which in turn makes your motivation much, much clearer.


What do you think? Do you find yourself battling through motivation issues when your projects are clearly tied to and supporting your values? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.