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Why your WHY is important (and how to find it!)

Updated: Sep 16, 2022

If you're struggling to find the motivation to learn English, it could be because you haven't yet uncovered the real reason why you want to learn English. So often, we think we know why we are doing something - for more money, for a better degree or to create more spare time, for example - but in fact these reasons are often superficial and don't provide us with a strong enough desire to pursue our dreams when we are faced with obstacles. In this post, I'm going to explain how you can find your deeper WHY and therefore untap reserves of motivation you didn't know you had! But first, let's look at the two main kinds of motivation:

Intrinsic Motivation

This is the kind of motivation that comes from you. It means that you do something because you truly want to, not because someone else wants you to.

Extrinsic Motivation

This motivation comes from outside of you. Examples include wanting to win a prize or competition, desiring praise from someone or even doing what your teacher says!

Which kind of motivation do you think is stronger? If you guessed intrinsic motivation, you guessed correctly. Anything that we create for ourselves is far stronger than something that is imposed on us from the outside.

Here's a real-life example: A while ago, I met Omid on Instagram. Omid learns IELTS for his own personal pleasure. Not many people do this as IELTS is hard; most people do it to go to university abroad or to emigrate to an English-speaking country. Not Omid! With no external reason, Omid has taught himself and has gone from a Band 4 to a Band 7 which is an incredible achievement. And he's been able to do this because he is highly motivated to succeed. Why is he so motivated? Because he has a genuine love of the IELTS exam!

The truth is that the deeper the motivation, the easier it becomes to motivate yourself, even when faced with big obstacles that might cause other people to quit. Deep motivation allows you to push through challenges and to come up with clever solutions to problems. More than this, deep motivation can facilitate an actual enjoyment of the challenges because you are so interested in solving them.

So, how can you uncover this deeper WHY? It's actually pretty easy....... Look at this example:

I want to pass IELTS so I can go to university in the UK.

That's fine, but is the reason really strong enough? After all, there are good universities all over the world and the UK is very expensive! So, you need to ask yourself why you want to go to university in the UK.

I want to go to university in the UK so that I can get a more useful degree.

Ok, and why do you want this?

I want to get a useful degree so I can get a better-paid job.

Ok, and why do you want a better-paid job?

Well, my parents don't have a lot of money and if I get a well-paid job, I'll be able to support them as they get older.

Ah, now that's a great reason!

By asking yourself a series of 'why' questions, you will be able to uncover the deepest reason for the thing you want. This deepest reason should feel very emotional and it's this emotional response that tells you when you have truly uncovered the deepest reason you have. It's the emotional response that is capable of driving you forwards and keeping you going through the tough times when a more superficial reason might run out of power. In fact, this emotional response to the deepest reason can literally be transformational. I've been working on a project for two years but have only just discovered my deepest reason. As soon as I found it, I magically increased my motivation and willingness to work, because my WHY was more important than many other things, such as watching TV!

One thing to watch out for is "should":

I should go to an English university because it will make my parents proud.

This reason is extrinsic, it is not driven by you and your dreams. By uncovering your WHY and not doing what other people want, you can tap into deeper levels of motivation and go further than you ever thought possible. Try it.

You can find Omid on his Instagram channel Saint_IELTS

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