Motivation: Your Three Big Needs In A Cool Little Package

Hey there!

Just as our body needs basic food groups, air, and water to survive, we also have three very big and very basic needs when it comes to motivation.

If we want to change our behavior, shedding an old one, accepting a new one, or adjusting one we’re going to keep, these three needs must be met or the change just won’t stick.

Here are those needs and what to do about them.

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Hope this helps!


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hey there it’s David H Lawrence the 17th
and have you ever wondered why sometimes
when you try to change a behavior or get
better at something or just make an
adjustment yeah it sticks it works you
know you’re able to do it and sometimes
it is a bear it’s just horrible well
researchers I’ve read recently have
found out that or determined I don’t
know they found it out they just serves
is a theory and I really like it I think
it’s really great
it’s called the self-determination
theory and what it talks about is why
we’re motivated to change things and
what makes those changes actually last
and it turns out that according to this
theory this self-determination theory
there are three things that we need to
make sure that what we attempt to do
what we attempt to adjust for the better
get rid of add etc requires these three
things and if we have these three things
well then everything’s awesome if we
don’t it’s a real struggle so the first
one is competence first one’s competence
and competence is this idea that we need
to experience mastery over our destiny
right so we need to know that we have
some say in what’s gonna happen in our
future and that we are competent enough
to do the things that we need to do and
not do the things that would stop our
future from being what we want it to be
and so competence is the first of the
three things really really really
important the second one is autonomy and
it’s kind of like competence but it’s a
little different so competence is
mastery of our destiny mastery of our
future even if we don’t really have
mastery of our future we need to feel
like we do so with autonomy we need to
know that we have a sense of control
over what we do specifics the you would
think this would be competence but it’s
actually the
anything that we are doing things well
and that we’re doing things that really
show who we are that we’re not being
somebody that we’re not that we are us
that we are who we want to be and that
autonomy really helps power the idea
that we’re on the right track yep we’re
doing what we’re doing and performers
who performers have this in spades
because they’re constantly saying things
like I’m different I’m an artist I
marched to a different drummer I’m Who I
am please accept me for who I am which
is great and then the third one is
relatedness and relatedness is kind of
connected to autonomy but in the reverse
we need to be ourselves we need to know
that we can do what we want to do and be
who we want to be but we don’t want to
be isolated from everybody else
so relatedness is the idea that we are
part of a bigger community that we are
part of the world that we are part of
the tribe and if we don’t have any one
of those three competence autonomy and
relatedness it makes it really hard for
us to be motivated to change something
to be motivated to do something and when
we do have all three it makes it so much
easier so competence sort of the control
feeling of the control of it and this is
the thing I’m gonna list all three of
them in just a second but this is the
thing we don’t even have to have them
actually we don’t actually have to have
competence we don’t actually have to
have autonomy we don’t actually have to
have relatedness we just need to feel
like we do so if we feel like we’re
competent and we feel like we have
control over us being ourselves and we
feel related to the rest of the larger
community it’s all it takes the mind
does crazy things doesn’t it so
autonomy and relatedness this is all
part of what these researchers called
the self-determination theory and I
think it’s just great I think that if
you have all three of these if you can
generate the feelings of all three of
these you’re gonna be so much better off
I wonder if this hits home with you you
know when you started hearing me run
down that list where you like going oh
yeah yeah no let me know in the comments
below let me know if there’s something
you need to work on if there’s something
that when you heard this you’re like ah
that makes all kinds of sense yeah let
me know that let me know any questions
you might have in the comments below if
you’d like to subscribe to my youtube
channel you can go ahead and click on my
head over there if there’s no head then
there’s a subscribe button somewhere on
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video to go go calm if you want to see
the latest episode I did go ahead and
click on that to frame there and YouTube
will play it for you I’m David H
Lawrence the seventeenth I thank you so
much for watching and I will talk to you



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  1. A problem is those without competence lack the ability to perceive the lack and tend to overestimate their ability, while competent people with the ability recognize their limits tend to underestimate themselves. (Dunning-Kruger)

    While I agree with the premise that it is only necessary to believe to achieve, that only goes so far. A balance must be struck—not only among the three, but to the level of belief vs. reality. If the latter gets too far out of whack it can lead to isolation and self destruction.

    So of the three, I would say the most important would be Relatedness. Rely on it to keep the other two in check.

    1. Relatedness does seem like the top suggestion to be on the right track. It helps in the journey. Thanks for your observation.

  2. So “Whistle a Happy Tune” …. aka make believe your brave and you may discover you’re actually as brave as you think you are. 🙂

  3. I thought this was really interesting because it reminded me of a theory I heard about why people get tattoos. I wish I remembered where I read this but someone was proposing the theory that all tattoos, from the beginning of time to today, are the product of three very human needs: 1. survival, 2. individuality, and 3.belonging. Survival refers to tattoos are done to honor someone who has passed. By keeping their memory alive, on our bodies, we in some way allow ourselves to believe that we live beyond our death and somehow negate our own mortality. Individuality refers to tattoos that attempt to separate us from the pack, and make us feel unique and special. Yet, even tattoos that mark us as individuals, also simultaneously group us with likeminded individuals, allowing us to feel a part of a community (belonging). It’s interesting that those three basic human needs seem so strong that they can motivate us alter our bodies and lifestyles, wether through tattoos or through personal goals for change.

  4. Really hits home — Three words and a rule is how my life goes on — they are: Attitude, Perception, Curiosity and the “Golden Rule”. Your description fits right into my way of seeing and living in this wonderful world.