Is Pleasure or Pain Motivating You?

Motivation tends to fall in one of two categories, either you’re moving towards something that will bring us pleasure or we’re moving away from something that causes us pain.

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For instance, someone who tends to move towards pleasure will plan and save for a great beach holiday with the anticipated pleasure of being able to relax and unwind in the sun. Someone who tends to move away from pain will stick to a workout programme because their doctor has told them they’ve got high blood pressure and need to lose some weight.

In human nature, pain drives most goals and we’re more likely to “move away” from something than to “move towards” something! And there’s a really good reason for that, running away from a Sabre-toothed tiger to save your life was a tad more important than finding a bush with nice juicy berries for your next meal so we’re “wired” to want to get away from pain.

So if we’re going to succeed it’s helpful to know what the pain of NOT achieving our goals is going to be. You might think you can’t run a mile but if a loved one were tied to a railway line and you had to get there as fast as you can to save them, I guarantee you’d be able to run a mile, the pain of not doing so would be too great to contemplate so your motivation will be really high.

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On the same note however, there may be some pain in achieving your goal. For instance, your best friend or spouse starts to feel a bit insecure around your fit new body and increased confidence and starts trying to steer you off track which causes friction or you’ve got the hassle of going out and buying new clothes. Alternatively, there could be pleasure in NOT achieving your goal, for instance, you get to carry on eating Hagen Daz Salted Caramel Ice-cream by the bucket load or you get to go out and buy some new clothes! One person’s pleasure can be another’s pain which is why motivation is so individual.

To help you understand your motivation better and to be aware of any pleasure or pain that could derail you take a few moments answer these questions:

What pleasure will you get if you DO reach your goal? (i.e. what good will come from reaching your goal?)

What pain will you get if you DON’T reach your goal? (i.e. what will be pants if you don’t reach your goal?)

What pleasure will you get if you DON’T reach your goal? (Are there any benefits to staying the same? You get the picture!)

What pain will you get if you DO reach your goal?  (Is reaching your goal likely to cause problems/issues anywhere?)