Understanding Your Motivations

As I’ve discussed in a previous post, Intentional Identity is the clear, unapologetic view of yourself. It’s living authentically, understanding where you’ve come from, where you are today, and where you want to be in the future. I firmly believe that the foundation for your path to success is defining your Intentional Identity and using it to drive your future vision and actions.

In order to truly discover your Intentional Identity, I’ve outlined the following five step process:

This post is about motivation…why you do what you do. The thoughts and feelings you have, the actions that you take, the dreams you aspire to, and everything in between start with your Core Values. Those philosophies and principles that define what’s most important to you also define your motivation in any situation. Whether you realize it or not, they are the components you will use to make decisions.

Core values are those deeply held, intrinsic motivations that drive each decision we make and how we prioritize our lives. For many of us, we have never stopped to think about what we value and why.

I remember the first time I did this exercise about 6 years ago. We were encouraged in a team meeting to review a list of values and select the 5-10 that were most important to us. It was eye opening for me to see how different the answers were for the 10 people in the room. I guess I had never really given much thought to the realization that we are all driven by different values and motivations.

One of the most interesting debates during the exercise was a conversation about family. Several people had selected family in the top list and a few others had not. This spurred a debate, and essentially a criticism of those who had not. Family should be the most important thing to EVERYONE, they argued. While those in the other camp debated that values like honesty, acceptance and love were more important, because we should not value family members who deceive us, do not accept us, or do not show love.

While this was an interesting debate, the truth is, it doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks your values should be. It matters what you know that they are.

Values are, and should be, different for everyone. It is highly unlikely that you will ever find someone that has exactly the same core values as you. You may find similarities, since your core values are exactly what attracts you to the people around you and continues to draw you together. But, we are each unique in how we see the world. Our upbringing, experiences, lifestyle, geography, and every other factor in our life, affect how we see the world and decide what is most valuable to us.

If we are to live in authenticity, and be true to ourselves, understanding these core values is critical. They help drive every decision we make, every relationship we have, and every conflict we encounter. If we are living a life that is incongruent with our core values, we will feel unbalanced. This is where stress and anxiety will enter our lives and cause ongoing conflict.

However, once we identify our core values, our motivation in any given situation becomes more clear…we realize why a relationship is not working, we walk away from activities that are disruptive, we begin to intentionally chose those activities, people, and situations that support our core values and our lives come into balance and harmony.

So, how do we uncover our core values? As with most things, it’s fairly simple once you make up your mind to do it. I recommend the following steps:

This exercise should provide you with a compass to lead your way forward. Your intentional identity is built around these core values. They should be a guide for how to motivate yourself in a given situation, tying it to these values. You should also be able to use this list to help you make decisions regarding certain activities or actions.

Reflect on this list when you are feeling conflicted or frustrated, consider whether your values are in alignment with your actions. If you’re having a difficult time procrastinating, consider whether the task you have to do, or the related outcomes, are in alignment with your values.

Now you not only know why you do what you do, but you know how to do it on purpose…your Intentional Identity is even more in focus.

My core values include fun, adventure, learning, respect, and achievement. I would love to hear your final core values in the comments below and any comments or questions on this process.

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