Inner motivation is the mystery you’ve been looking for

By Jared Kirkwood

We have all heard it said it’s what’s on the inside that really counts. But is that true?

When I think of our culture, we do a great job rewarding those who have accomplished a lot. We tend to envy people who have new cars or big houses. We gawk over people’s vacations on social media. Even promotions are given to those who outwardly perform the best in their companies. If what matters most is what’s on the inside, our world isn’t doing a great job reinforcing that.

The truth about those accomplishments is they don’t fulfill us unless the outward success is congruent with our internal desires and motivation.

It’s the internal drivers that influence our outward actions. If we gain a grasp of our inner self, which we call our “why,” then we can begin to shape our external habits and accomplishments in a way that is deeply fulfilling.

One of my guiding motivations in life is the desire to see potential in people beyond what people see in themselves. If that’s “why” I’m here, “how” I interact with people everyday drastically changes. I begin to look at people with an optimistic lens, I call out the good in people when I see it, I challenge the inconsistencies, and I dream alongside people as they consider what their future could look like. The best part is my outward actions are rooted in my internal motivations. Knowing my “why” allows me to live with integrity and integration.

How do you discover your inner motivation? Here are a few prompts that you can try today:

  • Write down all the significant things you did yesterday, why did you choose to spend your time that way?
  • When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up? Why did that job seem appealing to you? Are those “whys" still true today?
  • What pisses you off? Make a list of all the things that frustrate you, but make sure to counter that list with another about the things that bring you great joy.

Knowing your inner self unlocks things that may have been a mystery to you for your entire life.

For some this could be a difficult exercise. Does it really matter why you do what you do? It does if you want to experience the fulfillment that comes from having your internal motivations expressed in your actions, habits, and success. Consciously considering your “why” will profoundly impact your “how."

What if you moved through life unclear why you believed what you believe? Or why you do the things you do? Or why you are in the job, relationship, or place you are now? You’d be in danger of having a disconnected inner and outer self.

What mystery could you unlock today that could give you the driving force you’ve been looking for?

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