What Motivates You? How Checking Your Motives Can Improve Your Life

Have you ever heard the idea that there are four states of motivation? Different sources say slightly different things, but the idea that really sticks with me is that we are all motivated by:

  1. Fear
  2. Reward
  3. Duty or
  4. Love

I can see how, in my life, I am motivated by all four of these depending on the situation. For example, I’ve been motivated by the fear of missing out SO many times. There will be something I don’t really want to do, but then I suddenly feel a burst of fear thinking about how I will miss out on something amazing if I choose not to do it. I am motivated by fear.

I workout not because I sincerely love exercising itself, I workout because I love the reward I get from exercising! I feel better mentally, physically and emotionally after I get a workout in. As I think on this feeling I know I will get afterward, I am motivated to get up and do it! I am motivated by reward.

Everyone has daily or weekly responsibilities that they continue to follow through with because it is their duty to do so. For example, I have committed to participate in a weekly activity with the young women (ages 12-18) from my church. I love spending time with these girls and I always leave happier than I came, but there are some weeks when I’m so tired from chasing my toddlers around, I don’t feel like doing anything (like putting pants on some days haha). But I made a commitment and I choose to stick with it. I am motivated by duty.

And finally, let’s talk about being motivated by love. What are things you do simply because you love doing them, no strings attached? Some weeks I will have a super entertaining audiobook I cannot wait to listen to because I genuinely love it. Whenever l have a date planned with my cute husband, I’m counting down the hours because I love him and I love spending time with him. I’m motivated by love.

When I first heard about this idea, my initial thought was “I want to always be motivated by love in all that I do!!” I quickly realized this is pretty much impossible for anyone, except for Jesus Christ. We are human and honestly there is no shame in being motivated by any of these states of motivation. Most situations in life fall into multiple states, which is great and perfectly normal.

However, let’s seriously talk about Jesus Christ. His motives are so pure and so filled with love, it is inspiring to me. He died and was resurrected because of His love for us. He didn’t do it out of obligation, fear, or reward. Jesus was and is motivated by love.

With this in mind, I have really tried to do the same back for Him, but it is SO HARD. There was a time of my life when I studied my scriptures because I was truly motivated by love. Let me tell you, I have never been as close to my Savior as I was then. I genuinely thought to involve Him in all aspects of my life. I’m striving to get back to that, and He is so patient and loving as He helps me become closer to Him. Right now I feel like I am often motivated by duty and reward when it comes to spiritual matters. This is good and I am trying my best. He loves and accepts my offering with open arms and I feel so many blessings because of that. However, why not shoot for a “better” or “best” on the “good, better, best” scale of knowing Jesus Christ and involving him in my life? My goal is to strive to be motivated by love more often, especially when it comes to improving my relationship with Jesus Christ and increasing my ability to Hear Him in my life.

I invite you to think a bit deeper this week about what motivates you. If you can find small ways to be a bit more motivated by love, I promise you will find more joy, peace, and fulfillment in your life.

Remember that God is aware of you and He is so incredibly motivated by His love for you.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

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