Motivation – What motivates YOU


To get anything done motivation is key, motivating yourself to clean your teeth every morning is pretty easy, if you don’t they’ll eventually fall out giving you a bit of pain along the way. However motivating yourself when the rewards or penalties are not as obvious can be a bit trickier.

Different people are motivated by different things, some are motivated by money, others by the things money can buy, others are motivated by how others perceive them, and some are motivated by making the world a better place and helping others along the way. Everybody is selfish, even the so called saints in this world, they help others because at the end of the day that makes them feel good inside the fact that they’ve helped others along the way is a nice added bonus.

The next question is what motivates you and this is the best way I’ve found to find out.

Find a relaxing place with no disturbances and lie down. Close your eyes and simply relax. Next fold your arms over your chest and imagine that this is you final resting point and that your life has now past you by, was it a good one?

As morbid as it sounds thinking like this can really help you visualize your priorities and once you can see what you want use as motivation to achieve it. I don’t think many people on their deathbed will be wishing that they’d managed to squeeze in one more game of Solitaire or that if they’d just drank another ten pints life would of been perfect.

I had a telephone interview last week for an upcoming book (first time I’ll have appeared in an offline publication) and one of the questions I was asked was:

If you had an extra hour every day to spend in your business what would you do with it?

I had to think before answering this and my answer was:

I’d spend the extra hour playing with my daughter.

Business motivates me, money motivates me but it’s what I can do with both and the time that they free that motivates me most. What motivates YOU?

About Al Carlton

Al quit the 9 to 5 rat race in January of 2007, before then he was a software engineer and systems architect of financial system. Nowadays Al spends the days running his various businesses and experimenting with different ideas and opportunities.
Al can be found on twitter at AlCarlton.


  1. I probably get confused between motivation and goals, for years my goal/motivation was to clear credit cards/debt and get the family finances on an even keel, that is what drove me on, now it’s waterproofing and building for the future and paying the mortgage off in the next few years. Ultimately I’d just have to agree with you, it’s all about having the freedom & time with my family and no money worries that really motivates me and hence that in itself set out certain goals that had to be reached along the way.

    • I know what you mean about getting the two confused. To me the goal is what you want to achieve whilst the motivation is the reason why. I think that makes sense.

  2. Motivation is a tricky thing. As I do freelance web development for a number of clients, one project may be a lot more interesting than another so there is motivation to learn something new, and I find it harder to carry on doing the same old boring stuff over and over (no, it can’t be automated ;-p ), so the motivation to do the boring stuff is purely financial.
    My ultimate goal is to first, like Scott, pay off debts, but then it’s to have enough passive (me not having to do anything other than initial setup) income from websites and stock photography (which I am just getting going with) to be comfortable financially and to be able to pick only the interesting stuff to work on and pursue photography more.
    Working from home, on my own, is not easy sometimes and I am easily distracted when I’m doing the boring work.
    I wouldn’t say I am highly motivated generally though.

    • Like you Garry I think of myself as highly motivated but there can be many distractions working from home so being motivated in that enviroment is really important to be really successful IMO.

      • hehe you better reread what I put; “I wouldn’t say I am highly motivated generally though”. I don’t think I’m really that motivated by much at the moment… it’s mainly just to pay the bills.

  3. One of the most powerful motivators for mew was from Steve Jobs 2005 Commencement speech at Stanford University. The entire speech was great, but the line that really hit home was:

    “I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

    Full speech here:

    • That’s a great speach, thanks for sharing. On a similar theme I like the saying:
      “If today was a test how did you do”, asking your self that eacg day before going to sleep can really make you think.

  4. LS Online says:

    I like John Maxwell’s thoughts on motivation:

    “The whole idea of motivation is a trap. Forget
    motivation. Just do it. Exercise, lose weight, test
    your blood sugar, or whatever. Do it without
    motivation. And then, guess what? After you start
    doing the thing, that’s when the motivation comes and makes it easy for you to keep on doing it.”

    “As you begin changing your thinking, start
    immediately to change your behavior. Begin to act the part of the person you would like to become. Take action on your behavior. Too many people want to feel, then take action. This never works.”

    As a results I’ve become addicted to action and getting things done. I can’t begin to tell you how further along I am in my business.

  5. One of the most powerful source of motivation for me is Steve Jobs 2005 Commencement Speech at Stanford University. The entire speech was great, but the one sentence that most motivated me to change my actions echoes Al’s post:

    “I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

    Full text here:

  6. What motivates me? To be honest it varies from day to day depending on how I feel. But looking in the rear mirror I believe that one of the greatest driving forces for me is to constantly improve. I like to do things that can be measured because that is a way for me to see that I have become more.

    Money definitely isn’t everything but they sure are an easy way to measure progress. I am a firm believer that in order to make more money you need to provide more value to others. So if I earn more I have created more value for others as well.

    So what about the soft parts like feelings, love and passion? They are also very important to me but it is harder for me to measure and because of that they do not have the same motivating factor that money has. But they do play a huge part because if I’m not feeling good it’s hard for me to bring the best possible value to others.

  7. I’m one of those selfish people who finds happiness by helping others. I presented a talk entitled “What Motivates You” about a year ago and the one point I thought was important was the fact that a person is only going to go as far as the thing that motivates them.
    Your motivation is a concrete slab and your goal is what is built on that slab. If the foudation is shakey them the goal will eventually crumble. Its like when people make New Year’s resolutions that they never keep. Chances are the reason they can’t keep the resolution is because they made it because they were suppose to, not because they were ready to change and be better. They were motivated by the coming year and not by the result of their resolution. Your post gets people thinking. Great job!

  8. Similar to lying on your death bed is to imagine the same days of your life for the next 20 years. Or imagine the same boss and the same people that you don’t like around you for the next 20 years.

    What motivates me is freedom and making the best of my talents to serve other people.

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