The search for meaning is the key to inherent motivation and personal satisfaction. When we set a goal and identify what is most meaningful to us, it creates a path that guides us daily so that we do not get lost.
This is the only way we can bring passion and strength to our work and create a fence to block those who dare to try to get us off our own path.
It is common for psychologists to ask their patients three questions: “What defines you?”, “What are your values?” and “What does life mean to you?”. We have inherited these principles from Victor Frankl and his work in logotherapy, which helps us bring our motivations to light.
Today, there are many experts who point out that the search for meaning is one of society’s most basic needs. We are currently experiencing an uncomfortable feeling of emptiness. A few decades ago, we used religion and spirituality to fill that void, but today we need more.
One could say that we have moved away from the need to understand our origin and cosmic position. Science has given us valuable answers and we have lots of information within reach. But amid all the amazing technological advances, other concerns arise.
“Why am I here?” or “What do I expect from myself?” are questions people often ask themselves. Instead of asking ourselves about the meaning of life, we now question our relationship to life and ourselves.
Inherent motivation: A commitment to yourself
There are two types of motivation: external and inherent. External motivation stems from the need to behave in a certain way so that one can receive an external reward.
Inherent motivation is when a person does certain things simply for the pleasure of doing so without the need for outside incentives.
A study by Strathfield College shows that inherent motivation is regulated by a number of concrete processes. Thus, important qualities such as creativity, curiosity, reflection, a critical mind and initiative work together to create inherent motivation.
But having said that, we have been brought up under the parameters of outside motivation for most of our lives: “If you do this, I will give you good grades”, “Behave properly, and then I will buy that toy for you” , “You may be allowed to travel if you pass your exams”.
Furthermore, society also manipulates our behavior by applying a reward system, punishment, and positive reinforcements. Essentially, we have become so aware of external gratification that we can feel completely lost without it.
When we are dependent on the outside world, the inner void creates and blocks initiative as well as the courage to look for our own rewards.
The Search for Meaning: A Personal Commitment
The search for meaning shapes our inherent motivation. When we discover a fundamental purpose or passion that will guide our values and determination, everything changes. But how do we do that? We are so overwhelmed with obligations, limitations, and distractions that it is difficult to find our purpose.
But there is one thing we must not ignore: Humans are wise and courageous. We can perform our search for meaning in any scenario and situation:
- When we talk to someone else and we let ourselves see their views.
- When we travel.
- When we read a book.
- When we learn something new.
- When we open our minds up to new taste experiences.
- When we are at a conference.
- When we play sports.
- When we meet new people.
Inherent motivation: A promise to yourself
Searching for meaning means giving yourself a promise. For example, this may mean that you will no longer neglect your own needs. It can also mean that you want to spend quality time with yourself, nurture yourself or find new opportunities to experience something new.
Be curious, give yourself challenges, be innovative
Sometimes we have to start all over again with learning. We have been limited by outside motivation and the need to be affirmed for so long that we have forgotten how exciting it is to escape that circle and challenge the world.
We must dare to think differently, be creative and innovative. Courage leads to discovery, and the search for meaning enables us to do new things and escape from routines.
Finding a vital purpose is a personal commitment we should all work towards. We can fill our void with experiences and opportunities. Often, life reveals many meanings that we should focus our motivation on.