I once interviewed a student for an editing position at the university. I asked the typical interview questions, like “What is your major?” and “Why did you apply for this job?” Her answers didn’t inspire much confidence.
She didn’t have a major selected, and she didn’t know why she applied for the job. I tried to give her answers, asking if she liked writing. She said she didn’t know.
In fact, if I had to sum up that interview, it would be with the words “I don’t know.” While it’s okay to not know everything, you need to have something that motivates you.
I was so desperate for any answer, that if she had told me she was passionate about collecting teapots, I may have hired her.
Motivation and passion are driving forces in life. Whether you’re applying for a part-time job or interviewing for your dream job, your motivation is what will push you forward.
7 reasons why motivation is important in life
1. Motivation can help us change behavior
Motivation can help us get rid of bad habits, overcome addictions, or change our behavior. That’s why interventions are so often used to help people facing substance abuse problems.
When a person sees the damage they’re doing to those around them, they’re motivated to beat their addictions. With the right motivation, we can change our behavior.
In a less extreme case, having motivation can help a person learn the skills they need to make a change in their career. If a person has discontentment with their current job, they may be extra motivated to go back to school or take a certification test.
Motivation works powerfully to help us make the changes we need to get to where we want to go.
“Our thoughts shape how we behave.”
– Bangambiki Habyarimana
2. Motivation can move us toward our goals
Have you ever been really excited about a project you’re working on? We have a tendency to be more motivated to work on things that we actually want to work on.
Unfortunately, not everything in life can be something we’re excited about. However, we can make sure that our goals are in alignment with what motivates us. It doesn’t make sense to pour time and effort into a field you have no desire to be in.
We can push through a lot of difficulties when we keep our end goals in mind. For example, if a person is in grad school to become a certified clinical counselor, their desire to help people can help motivate them as they push through studying, exams, and hectic schedules.
“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.”
– Bill Copeland
3. Motivation can help us learn and grow
If you don’t have any motivation, you aren’t likely to go anywhere or try anything new. Let’s be honest: there are a lot of reasons to stick to the status quo. Your current life may be comfortable and you may have a routine you like.
But in order to learn and grow, we need to be motivated to go beyond our comfort levels. Our motivation to grow has to be stronger than our fear of failure. It’s easy to get wrapped up in thinking that we’ll fail. That sort of thinking keeps us from growing.
When we are motivated to become more than what we are, we are given the energy and strength to learn and grow. The motivation to evolve into a better version of ourselves is an important part of life.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
4. Motivation can keep us engaged in our work
Motivation helps us to put effort, energy, and concentration into our work. When you’re motivated to complete a task, you’re more likely to finish it.
If you gave a child the option to either clean their room or go play with their toys, they would most likely choose to play with their toys. If they had to clean their room, their only motivation would be that they had to do it.
Kids don’t hide the fact they aren’t happy about doing something. They’ll either hurry to get it done or drag their feet because they don’t want to do it. Our motivation (or lack thereof) may not be as obvious as a kid’s, but we have a tendency to bring energy to projects that we’re motivated to complete.
It can be easy to lose motivation on big projects or on things we don’t want to do. When motivation doesn’t come naturally, it may pay to remind ourselves about the reasons we’re doing a task in the first place. When we know why we’re doing or what we’re doing, we’ll be more engaged in our work.
5. Motivation can help us clarify our priorities in life
Motivation can help us clarify our priorities in life. Take a moment to think about what things really motivate you. What things don’t motivate you? If the reasons behind your current work don’t motivate you, you may need to change your priorities in life.
There was once a brilliant computer programmer who left his six figure job to teach. A lot of people would scoff at him, because who in their right mind would choose the stress and low pay related to teaching over the pay and benefits of a corporate job?
The truth is, investing in future generations was a major priority to this man. Once he realized that he was more motivated to teach than to work at a corporate job, the decision to make a change was easy.
A job with good pay and great benefits may be a major motivator for you, and that’s okay. What is important is that when you know what motivates you, you make life choices that are in alignment with that motivation.
“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”
– Stephen Covey
6. Motivation can help us build self-confidence
Motivation can help build a sense of self-confidence. The StrengthsFinder evaluation helps individuals discover what their top five strengths are so that they can leverage those strengths to find better fulfillment in their work.
One of the strengths is “Belief.” This is not a belief in a higher power, but a strong belief that a person has something they are meant to do with their life. This strong sense of self can move a person forward, even when conventional wisdom may say they’re better suited for something else.
When you’re really motivated to do something, you can find the time and resources to do it. For example, if you wanted to be a veterinarian, you would have to go to school and complete post-graduate education to prepare you for work as a veterinarian.
If neither of your parents ever went to college, college and grad school may seem like an insurmountable challenge. However, your motivation to become a veterinarian would help move you past each barrier in your path.
Motivation gives us the strength to do things we might not otherwise do. When we find ourselves on the other side of our goals, we build a strong sense of self-confidence.
If your motivation propels you toward your goals, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you can do hard things. That higher sense of self-confidence will help you reach higher goals in the future.
“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”
– Lucille Ball
7. Motivation can move us through difficult times
If you’re motivated to do something, you’ll find the willpower to do it no matter what. Doctors go through medical school because they have a strong drive and desire to be doctors.
Although their reasons vary, this motivation pushes them through the pressure involved in getting their education. Even when their training is physically and mentally demanding, they have the motivation to keep going.
Most people don’t choose to do big things on a whim. If you decide to start your education or make a career change on a whim, you won’t have the motivation to keep going when obstacles arise.
If you have a strong sense of motivation to move toward your goal, you’re more likely to tackle whatever is in your path. It’s good to remind yourself about why you’re doing and what you’re doing.
When you take time to remember the “why” behind difficult tasks, you’re more likely to stay motivated through them. When you work with your end goal in mind, it’s easier to keep you motivation up during hard times.
“We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt
Motivation is an important part of life. It pushes you toward your goals, keeps you going when things are difficult, and helps you live a life that is in alignment with your deeply held beliefs.
It’s important to evaluate which things fuel your motivation and which things drain it. When you discover those things that fuel your motivation, you can lean into them when things are hard. For many, this means knowing the “why” behind each task. For others, it means knowing what end goal is driving you.