We are born with everything we need to lead fulfilling lives. All 24 character strengths can be found in all human beings across the globe. Some of us are born into environments that cloud our access to that inner wisdom, but even in the worst of circumstances, people defy odds and rise above their surroundings.
People from every culture attest to an innate sense of direction expressed in their strengths, an inner compass of sorts that guides them. This is the source of our motivation. So what’s yours?
Understanding What Motivates You
To figure out what motivates you, ask yourself the following questions. They seem simple enough, but they require introspection and the courage to shape your own future by designing your life instead of passively letting it be determined for you. It's not always easy, but the result of this work will be a powerful sense of meaning and purpose. Ask yourself:
- What are your deepest values?
- What is your vision, your unique legacy?
- How can you empower it with your strengths?
Understanding what motivates you and recognizing sustainable versus unsustainable sources of motivation can be a game changer. Using your strengths can also lead to authentic, lasting motivation that gets you the most effective results. It’s motivating because people enjoy using their gifts. Once you connect to your strengths, you are fueled to live your values and embrace your vision and purpose.
From Motivation to Action
Once you have a handle on your motivation, you are primed to set goals powered by your strengths. But why are goals so elusive to so many people? Millions set New Year’s resolutions each January, yet experts tell us most resolutions don’t work, with 80% of people giving up within six months.
A reason resolutions fail is because they don’t make us happy while we’re trying to achieve them. Research reveals that true happiness is rooted in a life of meaning and purpose, so attaching a goal to something bigger than ourselves empowers the goal. A goal will have a much greater chance of success if it helps others or supports causes we care about. Working towards something rather than denying ourselves by staying away from something makes all the difference.
When we work from the desire to make things better for others, obstacles seem to vanish, and unpleasant tasks become more pleasant. Sharing our strengths in the spirit of contribution takes our ego out of the equation and gives us the opportunity to contribute to the betterment of the whole. Focus on what you want to (and can) give, and achieving goals can be a freeing and joyful experience.