Nerdy Thoughts That May Be Of Limited Interest

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.

anigif_enhanced-buzz-8574-1339605907-10 (source)

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.

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  1. I think mine are loyalty, integrity, legacy and love
    I am motivated by all of these the most. And they impact my choices and decisions in my home with my Chris and our kids, and even the friends / extended family that I will be close to …

    Wish we could chat about it face to face my friend! Love and prayers, Holly

  2. I think my motivations are justice and respect. If your respect and honor someone, you are showing them all the great qualities like love, peacekeeping, encouragement, etc. Justice is something I like to attain to, as there is so much unfairness in the world and if I can help someone to attain some justice or uphold justice – I’m in. Sort of a grace/mercy thing.

  3. Boy, this was a timely post. I’d love to say that all of my motivators are from that positive list you mentioned. But, as I sit here this morning, I’m definitely having regrets over a situation that will face me at work today. I, unknowingly, shared too much information with someone regarding a confidential matter that has come back to bite me (and my boss) in a big way. I’ve been worried sick about it all night. I do tend to over share as I feel comfortable with people. As I’ve thought about this overnight, I realize that I often do things out of an attempt to prove myself. That generally doesn’t end well. I really need to focus on my motivation before I speak or act. Maybe I won’t be up worrying all night if I do that.

  4. Honesty, trust, and contentment in where I am and in what I have been blessed with right now in my life.

  5. Peace and freedom!! We are about to start foster parenting and I have NO IDEA how any measure of peace and freedom will weave itself into that! I’d love any ideas!

  6. It’s interesting that you bring this up. Our Sunday School class is currently reading Counterfeit Gods and last week was the “money” chapter. And the word we used to ask what drives was motivation. I’m not quite sure what my words are, but I think hospitality and contentment are pretty high up there.

  7. Honesty, integrity and sincerity are big for me. I also agree with peace and contentment.

  8. I’m not sure I’m quite self-aware enough to answer this. My first thought was security, but that was followed closely by the possibility that “greed” is the more accurate answer. I’m mostly a saver. Money in the bank gives me a feeling of security (albeit false security) that I can take on life’s problems and catastrophes. But I’m pretty sure the flip side of that is that need for a comfortable bank account prevents me from giving away as much as I could or should. It’s awfully early in the morning for a look into this dark mirror.

  9. Creativity, purpose and relationship. Though when 15 years ago when I had the Miss Important Pants job I would have said structure, consistency, and vision. I guess the biggest difference is relationship. Having kids and realizing that your family are the important ones will do that to you!

  10. Elizabeth says:

    I feel like i’m motivated by God in terms of knowing that he expects me to DO with what he has given me. To whom much is given…

  11. Mine have to be Peace, Love, and Kindness.
    Thanks for this post because it made me have to think about what motivates me and, I needed that!
    P.S. I love hearing your thought processes. ;)

  12. This is interesting stuff, Sophie! I’ll have to think on mine a spell… Although one of them is for sure peace/security because, well, I am most women. Also, I am obsessed with finding out the ending of stories I don’t know. I can’t stand not knowing how something all turned out. If it’s bad, it’s ok. At least I know and I can find peace there. (Ding!) Like, what happened to Ree’s jack russell? I have scoured the internet, comments on her blog, her facebook page…nothing. It haunts me. Or why did someone I really admire get divorced? Not bc I’m nosey, but be, well, learn me something!!! I’m a newlywed! Help me! What do you have to say about how this could NOT happen to me. Clearly, I have no boundaries or respect for oh, say, grieving and what jot. I JUST WANT TO KNOW. My friend Lindsay says it’s the story-teller in me. She may be right. But I still wanna know.

    • Sherri Len says:

      I was trying to think what one word would describe your “need to know” and because I am the same way ( I often say at the end of a movie: “I wonder what happened to so-and-so in that movie – they never really finished that story line”) and that word is CLOSURE. What do you think, Marti?

  13. Security, Relationship/Friendship, and Calm.

    That was a thinker!

  14. Natalie says:

    What motivates me….learning, legacy, competition, love, loyalty, and lots of other things. I am motivated when I see people compliment my work, when I discover something about my family history that I didn’t know before, when I read the Gettysburg address (weird, but it works), when I am in the middle of a big project and get a new spurt of energy – different things :) BTW in response to the Myers-Briggs post I’m an INTJ :)

    • Natalie says:

      Idiot moment – just realized that the Meyers-Briggs post was like two weeks ago. Ignore that last little bit of comment please :/

  15. Nancy D says:

    Commitment. We have an upcoming event at church that a certain group, of which I am a part, was invited to participate in. We met a couple of times in preparation, but then as things evolved it turns out that our group’s services aren’t needed. The event is still happening and is intended for the entire church and community. After we learned that our group wouldn’t be doing our thing, many decided it just wasn’t worth the time to even attend the event at all. I know people are busy and have other more important things to do, I get that. But this just kinda hit me as nothing but pure old selfishness. Like they were saying, “Well, if I’m not on the program then it’s just not worth showing up for.” For whatever reason, I just can’t do that. Which gets me back to my motivation — commitment. I’m hanging in there. I’ll do the best I can to do whatever I said I would do, even when it turns out that the something I said I would do is something different. It is my greatest strength and my greatest weakness. I’m hanging in there, baby. But sometimes I hang in there way beyond the time when I should have just let it go.

  16. Contentment and peace. Just about all of my decisions are based on those two things. My childhood was the stuff of nightmares, my first marriage wasn’t any better, and now I’m blessed with a wonderful husband, and together, we strive for peace in all things. A lot has happened in our 17 years together, and we’ve been through the wringer, but we’ve come out on the other side able to laugh about most things (there was a lot of sad in there.) and be content with each other’s company and our lot in life. We’re stronger and more happily married b/c of it all.

    Good post today, thanks!

  17. Integrity and compassion for me

  18. security, peace, kindness

  19. joy (laughter), friendship,Kindness, security, faithfulness

  20. I think mine would be stability, joy, and peace.

    But I predict that my husband would say something like spontaneity, fun, relaxation.

    We’re quite a pair! Haha!

  21. Kimberly/OKC says:

    Hmmm. This post is really giving me thoughts. And questions. I see in your comments that some people seem to have an immediate answer and some are thinking about it…I’m thinking! I want to think I have a better way to make commitment decisions than, “yeah, I’m free” but too often I commit to things that way. Ugh. My last commitment was cooking and decorating for a rehearsal dinner and a wedding. I comforted myself with the thought that I am DONE with events like this for maybe a year or more. I’m just so tired and stressed and SICK of being in a hurry and not having time with my family!! So, THANK YOU because I think you have helped me…new way to make decisions…I DO have motivations! Peace and family relationships (with God first).

  22. Amy in ATL says:

    Terrible to admit, but responsibility (or common courtesy maybe) and contentment. I am a check list type of girl, so if it needs to be checked off, I can not be content until it is done. It causes me a lot of stress sometimes and that needs to change.

    Thank you for motivating me to think about what motivates me!

  23. Lynn Osborne says:

    Sophie, you might be interested in learning about the Enneagram. It is a personality model that includes 9 types of motivations that influence how we deal with life. It is a very powerful tool to understand ourselves and our loved ones or co-workers better. I work on staff at a church and we use it to improve teambuilding. Very powerful.

  24. Lisa D. says:

    Oh, the conversation this post has started in my home! My motivators sound like I’m a Miss America contestant…..but quite honestly they are God, peace and love. My husband’s are polar opposite from mine! We have just laughed and remembered why it is that God paired us together. He is so good!

  25. My motivation is at an all time low…….I was blessed to leave a job I loved when I got remarried 18 years ago….after working 27 years in broadcasting…….I was able to provide childcare to our two oldest grandchildren at that time…….their mom is a wonderful teacher and advocate for special needs children……they are now 16 and 18 and no longer need my care. The good part of spending lots of time alone is you have lots of time to think……the bad part is you have lots of time to think. I appreciate that I spend much time in prayer and helping disabled friends……etc but it is hard for me to be motivated day to day. I really enjoy your blog……your honesty and your faith……God Bless

  26. Natalie N. says:

    Thank you for sharing about the South. It just makes me smile. Every. Time.
    …and Yes! California does hate air conditioning?!? I work on the campus of a UC, and just yesterday, I found out that a few of our buildings DO NOT have air conditioning! It seems that it’s either functional windows or AC, but not both. Now, mind you, we can see the ocean from much of campus, so there is a good breeze. But these poor dears are on the THIRD FLOOR…with NO AC! What?!?

  27. Mine are justice, compassion and humor. Because when you get all riled up about injustice, it helps to have some mercy and laughter to balance things out.

  28. Kindness and Courage
    Great post Sophie!

  29. Loved this post!
    Mine are loyalty and peace.
    Just reading this post kinda made me reframe being an over analyzer.
    Maybe it isn’t the handicap I have always believed it to be:)