Fishing in the Wishing Well of Motivation

Here is a common example of a start point for a participant on our Strive & Thrive in Private Practice, when listing the areas of their concern as a new and recent graduate:

The Strive & Thrive in Private Practice 8-week course looks at all these concerns, but I wanted to focus this piece on the subject of motivation.

When we interact with our clients there are two aspects of motivation to consider. One is the clinician's and the other is the client's. A motivated clinician is one who is looking forward to their day ahead, the clinical challenges, the paperwork and the chance to help their client's move forward along their pathway of optimal living. Is that you? The second aspect of motivation is a client willingness to put in the effort to move along their pathway to optimal health. Sound like your normal client?

Both of these topics are in fact huge areas of discussion, in which books, PhDs and more have been created, so we are going to drill down into the clinician's motivation, our motivation.

Personal Motivation

On the surface, personal motivation you might say comes from setting goals, because goal orientated people seem to achieve more. Right? But what about the;

  • Person who gets out of bed at 5.00am to exercise?
  • Parent that stays awake at night waiting for their child to phone requesting a lift home?
  • A neighbor who unasked mows your front verge?
  • Or a bystander that runs after you when they noted you dropped some money?

These actions were not goal orientated, with a finite end point as goals are. What motivated these people to commit to these actions?

Is it their genetics, their parental education or the environment in which they grew up? Is it as simple as the cafe scene in 'When Harry met Sally' - I want whatever she's having!


What we are actually talking about here, what is providing the motivation and desire to set the goals in the first place are values. We really need to understand values, because values provide the motivation to make changes. If you don't recognize the value in doing something or changing something, then you will procrastinate.

Presently you are reading and thinking about this material. Imagine if all the air around you was suddenly sucked out of your room. What you previously took for incidental (breathing) suddenly becomes critical. You will stop reading this and have a strong motivation to seek air. Previously you placed no value on the air around you because you had what you needed. Take the air away and your value system recalibrate precipitating a strong motivating force to seek an appropriate solution.

Simply put "Satisfied needs create no motivating force"

In the previous examples values displayed were;

  • Respect for the human body
  • Caring for the family
  • Contribution to community
  • Honesty

Values are core beliefs that direct and guide a person's every decision. Values vary from person to person, with no right or wrong value and they cover many aspects (domains) of life. For example;

  • Family
  • Job
  • Community
  • Spirituality
  • Environment
  • Personal health
  • Friendships

Core Values

Values vary from person to person, and in different degrees of importance, it is important at this point is to recognize what are your core values. Why? Well from these values flows your motivation and subsequent behavior. If you value having a fit and healthy body, then you will align your goals (short, medium and long term) to achieve what you consider fit.

If you value the importance of community and social structures, you will happily look for and contribute to community groups, service organisations and volunteer positions in your community. To go to work every day as a physiotherapist and care for another person or persons, then as a core value I need to have as a core value caring and willingness to give. If I didn't have this as a core value, I will experience a lack of motivation.

How do you find out what are your core values?

You could ask yourself, 'What do I honestly, really want from life?'

Some people may say that I want;

  • to be famous
  • to find the partner of my dreams
  • to have confidence
  • to be wealthy
  • to be happy
  • to secure a great job

However these are feelings or goals and as such, they are transient.

Values however, are ever present, constant and a guiding force for all decisions.

Living not Working

In the Strive & Thrive in Private Practice course, we have participants under take 3 separate exercises. The first one enables participants to identify their most fundamental core values. Once identified, the second exercise shows them how to rank their values in order of personal priority (we are all different and there is essentially no right or wrong value). In the final exercise participants identify inconsistencies between what their identified core values are, and how they currently live their life.

The key here is that when you are not true to your core beliefs, you lack motivation. When you are in tune and living in accordance with your core beliefs, you are not working, you are living.

As always, love to hear your thoughts on what provides you with the personal motivation to continue turning up to work each day.