With such treacherous terrains to maneuver through in life, we have to stay fueled from the right source in order to maintain a balance of motivation. And just as every car manufacturer recommends a certain grade of octane in order to properly power an engine; we have to properly power our motivational level with the right type of fuel. If the recommendation is premium grade, but a lower quality is used overtime, the engine will eventually breakdown. Fuel for motivation works the same way.

The Motivation for this Article

In recent weeks I’ve received a number of emails asking me for tips on maintaining a high level motivation. I find this question challenging to answer because I believe our motivation is driven by personal factors; what is important to me may not be important to someone else.

While I’ve battled with this, I’ve still kept the question fresh in mind to understand how I really feel about it. I take it seriously when someone asks me such a ‘high-stakes’ question. I figure that I’m being asked specifically for a reason, so I feel some responsibility in providing an answer. I was motivated to create this post as my answer to maintaining a higher level of motivation.

To be motivated is to be driven. To drive (be driven), you have to have fuel. It’s all about the fuel!

Synthetic Motivation: Low Grade Fuel

Synthetic motivation is the most common. There’s an abundant supply all around us and it’s cheap. It certainly wins in the area of quantity but lacks severely in the area of quality. But still, this type of motivation gives us a boost in energy and enthusiasm.

We get synthetic motivation from books and phrases like: “just do it”. We get it from watching ‘rah rah’ motivational speakers that raise our energy, although its lasting effects are minimal. Being falsely optimistic and faking positive thinking are symptoms of low grade fuel. It motivates us but it has no weight; causing it to evaporate shortly after it magically appears.

We sike ourselves out to feel ready for whatever even when we’re not…and temporarily it works. You know when you don’t really feel like doing something – but you push through it anyway? That’s synthetic. Nothing bad, in fact that’s the synthetic stuff at its best.

As a result of its temporary properties and it being the main source of fuel within many of us – most people experience a roller-coaster-like effect of motivation; it constantly fluctuates up and down. This is the most common type of motivation that drives most people. I imagine that everyone uses this stuff; some more than others.

Organic Motivation: Premium Grade Fuel

Organic motivation comes from a source of inspiration that lights a fire in us to change forever, not just for the moment. This type of fuel might not make us throw our hands in the air and holler “yahoo”, but it certainly affects our heart; giving us what we need to drive to wherever we want to go without any “rah rah” festivities.

But here are the challenges: this stuff ain’t cheap, it doesn’t have the same instant gratification-like properties, and its source is far less understood. Organic motivation takes time to set in; it has to marinate before we can feel its effectiveness.

And this is why we gravitate to synthetic forms of motivation…again, because it provides quick (although not lasting) results. In a society where microwaves have become too slow, internet connections are never fast enough and poor cell phone signals make our blood boil – we’re too distracted to have the patience to fully capture what organic motivation has to offer.

We get organic motivation from the things in life that we have an unwavering appreciation for. Things like spirituality, family, love, life goals, serving others, and other life shaping events and realities are the types things that matter most in life. When we keep these types of things at the forefront of our thoughts, we develop a drive fueled from within; from a premium grade fuel source that can last forever.

Get an Octane Boost

The difference between organic and synthetic motivation is like comparing hormone infused cows with free range grass fed cows. Both give us burgers and steaks in the immediate; but we all know which is better for us in the long run.

We’re the culprits that don’t allow organic motivation to flow. Yes, we are to blame for now having a high level of motivation. We find more things to complain about than to praise. We rarely celebrate our wins. We allow the worries of the world to take over our thoughts and interests. These things clog the premium grade fuel line. It can’t pump efficiently when our mindset is in a poor place.

When we honor what matters most to us and live within perspective of our life priorities – not does that give us the power to squeeze the handle of the premium grade fuel, but the auto flow lever engages allowing it to flow on its own.