Is Motivation the Energy that Drives Us?

May 19, 2016

For several months, I have felt lackluster, not excited about anything. I reluctantly was going through the motions of life. I realized that I lacked motivation--that energy that compels, pushes, excites us to act and is associated with a feeling of positive anticipation of what's to come. So from whence does motivation come, what is the source of that energy? We are motivated to achieve a desired outcome. So motivation appears to be a byproduct of desire? Desire is born of both want and need--you want the new sporty car with all the options and you need to eat. I had assume that the greater the desire, the greater the motivation. However, I came across an article -- "How to Beat Procrastination", which I published on my Dharma-Tao eZine page (!dharma-tao-e?zine/z0nb8), which purports that motivation also has other factors that affect its intensity. The article may have come as an answer to a pondersnce I put to my brother. We both carry the label of "Quitter", i.e., someone too easily willing to start an endeavor but not finish that endeavor. I posed that we might want to look toward that which we have finished in our lives and figure out why we finished those major endeavors while walking away from others. The article essentially answered the question and provided a simple equation that relates motivation to the factors affecting its intensity. Both my brother and I have a science and math background, so I eagerly shared the article with him. The article presented the following.

                                   Motivation = (Expectancy x Value) / (Impulsiveness x Delay)


Notice that 'Desire' does not appear in the equation. So how might 'Desire' fit here? I will use an embarrassing experience I had. In my 20's, I attended a carnival with my girlfriend and spent over $300 in a matter of minutes on one of the games that se obviously gear to the house to win. I was determined that I could get the three round, thin metal disks to cover the circle as the game master had demonstrated. I couldn't, but I continued trying until he took pity on me and gave me a prize and sent me on my way. I could have bought three or more of the stuffed animal I received for the money I spent. So, let's break down the experience using the equation and what part Desire played. 


I had a very high Expectancy that I could cover the circle. Impulsiveness was what brought me to the game and to some extent, kept me playing the game (I had no plan of what I would do at the carnival or how much I would spend in total or on any one experience). Impulsiveness was therefore very high at he time and is part of how I go through life. The Value was not in the potential prize, but in rising to the challenge of winning the game. I highly value challenges, especially those that I judge as difficult, but should nevertheless be able to overcome. So the Value was an intangible that was driven by the meta-value of overcoming challenges and likely how that affects my ego, although I don't believe I tend flaunt my ego or accomplishments. The satisfaction is internal. The Delay was negligible; the game took seconds to win or lose. My high Expectancy meant that I believed I could master the game in the minutes I would spend playing.

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