So one thing people might not necessarily assume about me – especially in light of my preoccupations with fried chicken and SEC sports and Bravo – is that I really like trying to figure out what makes people tick. I’m not exactly sure when I realized this about myself, but I feel like it’s directly tied to taking one too many quizzes in Seventeen magazine when I was a teenager. It may also be because I apparently have a sticker on my forehead that says “TELL ME YOUR PROBLEMS,” but don’t think for one minute that I’m complaining. Sometimes I even think about going back to school and getting my degree in counseling, but when I try to imagine adding classes to an already full schedule, I pretty much just picture me looking like this all the time.
So I think it’s safe to say that I’ve crossed “go back to school” off my long-term to-do list.
Anyway, lately (NERD ALERT) I’ve been thinking a lot about what motivates people. I’m sure I had some class in college where we talked about primary motivators and whatnot, and my guess is I memorized whatever I needed to for a test and then said, “GET THEE GONE” to that particular subset of information. But the older I get, the more I’m aware that I am absolutely motivated by two main factors when I’m making decisions or prioritizing commitments or analyzing a situation that’s driving me crazy. For me those two things are contentment / peace and loyalty. They’re what I value most in my marriage, in our home, in my work / writing, and in my relationships.
And for a variety of reasons, I’ve been thinking about all of this for the better part of three days.
Yesterday our flight back to Birmingham was delayed by a couple of hours, and while we were sitting at beautiful gate 31 (it wasn’t really beautiful) (I don’t even know why I used that adjective), I explained my train of thought to D and asked what motivates him most in the day-to-day. His are fairness, consistency, and stability. I wasn’t surprised even a little bit because 1) we have been married for A LOT OF YEARS, so I know how he thinks, and 2) if there are three qualities that mark his life and his character – well, THESE.
So then I asked Alex. He said fairness, consistency, and adventure. And then he sang a song about toots, so clearly he was very interested in my question.
Obviously there are a bunch of different motivators, and I’ve been mostly focusing on the healthy ones instead of stuff like insecurity, jealousy, greed, etc. Some of the ones I’ve thought about are fun, adventure, tranquility, excellence, power, integrity, passion, well-being, freedom, achievement, ambition, service, legacy, and love. There are two or three in that bunch that might affect my decisions in a very specific set of circumstances, but by and large – in the big stuff and the little stuff – contentment / peace and loyalty are my go-tos. If I take action in a situation without those things in mind, I’m gonna feel some pangs of regret later on.
So I guess I have now shared way more information about my thought life than anyone ever really needed to know. I do apologize. And if you are a real-life counselor / psychologist / psychiatrist, I hope you aren’t horrified by my terminology. I don’t really know the fancy (much less professional) ways to explain myself.
However, if any of you other over-analyzers want to chime in with what most motivates you, I’d love to know, mainly because I’m endlessly curious about this type of thing.
And, well, I’m also a little bit nosy.