Successful goal achievement depends on a lot of thing, including alignment of goals and values, will-power, discipline, availability of resources and possessing the right skills. One big factor is motivation.

If you’ve ever coached or mentored someone, you know the amazing feeling of watching that person get motivated to push through obstacles. Likewise, if you’ve ever personally struggled with reaching a goal or tried to help someone climb that achievement hill, you also know how hard it is when motivation is scarce.

For each of us, what motivates or drives us to behave or act a certain way is very personal. Our “reasons why” can be dependent on our experiences, our values and even our fears. We are each driven by different motivators and typically take action on those things that feed our primary motivators. Yes, we can try to meet expectations and goals set by other, but if we don’t find a way to connect that goal to what drives us, we won’t do our best.

Stephen Covey said it quite poetically: “Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.”

So What are Motivators?

Eduard Spranger was a German philosopher and psychologist who evaluated personalities and identified six primary motivators of human behavior. The six motivators represents value attitudes that can be used to explain the WHY behind your behaviors and actions.

The six motivators are:

  1. The Theoretical motivator drives one to seek knowledge and information. The person driven by the Theoretical motivator has a strong desire to discover the truth. If one of your primary motivators is the Theoretical motivator, you value systems and analyzing data. You’re likely an information junkie who loves books with a thirst for continuous learning.
    At work, you are known as a problem solver and are sought to help analyze a problem.
  2. The Utilitarian (originally called the Economic) motivator, focuses on maximizing time and resources. A person driven by this motivator is interested in things that are useful. If your primary motivator is the Utilitarian motivator, you are known for finding a good deal. You have a passion for getting a good return on your investment and can calculate the impact of downtime faster than anyone.
    At work, you make sure that the organization’s resources are well utilized.
  3. The Aesthetic motivator seeks balance and harmony both in their environment and relationships. If you are driven by the Aesthetic motivator, you like to focus on the experience rather than the ROI. You are on the journey to self-actualization and realizing the full potential of your surroundings and relationships.
    At work, your desire for harmony helps you to build and sustain healthy relationships.
  4. The Social motivator reflects a desire to help others. A person with the Social motivator is driven by causes. You are passionate about investing your personal time and energy into helping and supporting others. It’s not just about being with other people. You truly care about improving the life of others.
    At work, you are called to coach, mentor and develop others.
  5. The Individualistic (originally called Political) motivator represents someone who seeks to power and authority. A person with the Individualistic motivator often catches a ‘bad rap.” You seek authority and power, so you can affect and influence others. It doesn’t mean that you are only out for self, it’s that you aren’t afraid to lead.
    At work, this translates to a skill at leading others to accomplish the mission and organizational goals.
  6. The Traditional (originally called Religious) motivator seeks an established system of living. This individual values unity and seeks a higher meaning in life. If this is your motivator, you desire a system for living and prefer things to be orderly and logical.
    At work, you prefer to follow proven policies and procedures rather than re-inventing the wheel.


Understand Your Highs and Lows

It can be easy to get caught up in the labels of these motivators and miss out on the lesson that the presence or absence of a motivator can bring. As with many continuums, being high or low in a particular style tells a story. If you can interpret that story, it can help you understand why it’s easier for you to work on some goals, and why others are so challenging.

Theoretically motivated people are in constant learning mode, while others who are “low” in this motivator aren’t bothered if they don’t have all the answers. Folks who have a high Utilitarian motivator are constantly looking for ways to make things more efficient, while others don’t worry about the cost if the experience is “worth it.”

Aesthetically motivated people are stressed when people don’t get along or if their environment is chaotic, while others thrive in conflict. Socially motivated people think first about how decisions impact others, and those who aren’t will sometimes choose what’s best for them.

Individualistically motivated people are comfortable in the seat of authority and strategize on ways to continue growing, while some just don’t care if there’s no room for advancement. Finally, those who are Traditionally motivated have a stronger desire for order and conformity, while those who aren’t prefer to be flexible and independent.

When you are clear on your motivators, it becomes easier for you to choose where you invest your energy. You’ll be able to decide on what things get your attention. You’ll also understand why you feel dissatisfied or unhappy in certain situations.

Plug Your Goals into Your Motivators

I hope the lightbulb has gone off for you.

If you’re feeling stuck somewhere in your life or feeling de-motivated it’s probably you’re in a situation that doesn’t support your primary motivators and forces to work out of your preference.

Consider what your primary motivators and ask these questions:

  • Does your current work environment give you an opportunity to fulfill your motivator?
  • If you can’t fulfill your motivator at work, can you find something in your personal life, like a volunteer opportunity to satisfy it?
  • Do your current goals answer or satisfy your motivators?
  • If you’re struggling with a goal
    • is created in an area where you are not driven?
    • do you have an option about working on that goal?
    • would reframing your goal to align with one of your primary motivators help you achieve it?

Magic happens when you can tap into the power of your motivator to give you the push you need to accomplish your goals.

Need help figuring out your motivators and how to pick the right goals for them? Let’s connect and I’ll help get you pointed in the right direction! 

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