If you mow the lawn, I’ll give you twenty bucks. How about for five dollars, or even two bucks—would you do it? Would you mow the neighbor’s lawn for free out of the goodness of your heart, or only if Mom told you to do it? Okay, now think about this: if you memorize a list of fifteen countries, you’re guaranteed to get 100% on your next history quiz. Will you memorize that list? If you finish your homework by 8 p.m., you can watch TV . . . but it can only be the news. Do you care enough to complete your studies by then? If you pass driver’s education, you can get a learner’s permit to drive. Will you show up for class? If you arrive to class on time, you don’t get marked tardy. Are you on time, even after lunch is over? If you eat broccoli, even though you hate the taste, you’ll get lots of nutrients in your body. Do you eat that vegetable? If you drink milk, your bones will be stronger. Do you drink milk or instead have a soda pop? If you buy rollerblades, you won’t have money to buy your sister a birthday gift. Do you make the purchase for yourself or save your pennies for her?
Why do you do the things you do?
What motivates you? You are faced with situations every day where you have to make choices, and there is a deep reason that compels you to do so. Some choices are just matter-of-fact, such as showing up to school. It’s the law. Being motivated to go to school could simply come from the desire to not have a visit from the truancy officer, or it could be that your family really values learning. But other choices—like what you wear or how you talk—have motivating influences. Do you want to talk cool or be popular, so you use slang? Do you do a good job on your English essay because you want a good grade, or do you simply love to write and you enjoy putting effort into your hobby? There are so many motivating forces: acceptance, respect, and competency (being able to do a good job), to name a few. Some people are motivated by having power, influence, or control.
Your task is to take some time to reflect on the questions presented below and write responses to each question. Place all of your responses in one paper, and you can number the questions on your paper along the way. By the time you finish writing your responses, you should have a better idea of what motivates you to do and act certain ways. This knowledge is useful if you decide you ever want to change your reason for doing something or the attitude behind it.
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