Provision #240: Trip Over Your Dreams

Laser Provision


People are motivated by many factors. Goals, needs, and values are three of the most important. I call them the “want to do’s,” the “have to do’s,” and the “ought to do’s.” When you’re having trouble getting around to something you want to do, why not rearrange your environment to support your dream? It can make for effortless success.

LifeTrek Provision

What motivates you? At the risk of oversimplifying a complex phenomenon and well-researched field, I would suggest that most people are motivated by three things: what they want to do, have to do, and ought to do. How those fit together determine our success and fulfillment in life. They’re really that important.

— “Want To Do’s.” This may seem obvious. If motivation is anything, it’s doing what we want to do. And what we want to do usually arises from the gap between where we are now and some desired future state. We may want to do something in the future that we cannot do now; we may want to understand or feel something; or we may want to be somebody. Running a marathon, solving a problem, releasing a fear, and holding a position of leadership are all examples of such want-to-do motivation.

This kind of motivation has been called intrinsic motivation. It comes from within. It is based upon our interests, curiosity, and urges. Who can explain where these come from? Why does one person want to play golf while another wants to weave tapestries? Why does one person want to solve a math problem while another wants to understand human nature? Why does one person want to feel aroused while another at peace? Why does person one want to be a leader while another wants to be a follower?

Fortunately, we don’t have to explain where our interests, curiosity, and urges come from. Is it nature or nurture? Who cares! Everyone has things they want to do • motivation is getting up the gumption and the energy to do them.

One simple technique for mustering your want-to-do motivation is to trip over your dreams. I first learned this technique from a client, who wanted to start riding his bike on a daily basis. He wanted to get in shape and compete in local bike races. This was a clear “want to do.” But even though he wanted to do it and even though he had done it in years past, weeks went by with only an occasional ride. What would you coach this person to do?

Our conversation produced the following, simple idea: bring the bike up from the basement and park it in the front hall of his elegant home, along with the necessary helmet and shoes. Suddenly and effortlessly my client found the motivation to ride. Instead of having to remember his dream, which was sitting down in the basement, he was tripping over his dream • to the point of having to explain it to his family and friends. “Why do you have a bike in the front hall?” “Because I love to go riding, I’m getting in shape, and I’m training for a race.” It became self-reinforcing. It did not require a lot of daily discipline and willpower. It just required a one-time reorganization of his environment in order to support his dream.

This technique has been applied successfully, over and over again, by many LifeTrek clients. How do people get and stay motivated to do what they want to do? They set things up so they cannot help but stay on track.

One woman, who wanted to lose weight, donated all of the food in her house to a food pantry. She then started over, buying only the quantity and quality of food that she desired. Through home decalorization, this woman made losing weight an effortless project. She couldn’t eat what wasn’t there. Another woman, who wanted to write her first book, wrote out the questions she wanted to address in each chapter. She then used an automatic email utility to send herself one question every two days. As the questions arrived, she would reply to herself with the answer. Soon, without knowing it, the book was written and off to the publisher.

How can you modify your environment to bolster your motivation for achieving the things you want? Whatever you do, make sure you don’t have to work real hard in order to keep the modification going. It should support you, not the other way around.

— “Have To Do’s.” If the “Want To Do’s” reflect our goals, the “Have To Do’s” reflect our needs. As Abraham Maslow pointed out more than three decades ago, there’s a hierarchy to these needs as well as to the motivation to meet these needs. Most people do not have trouble getting motivated to meet their physiological needs (hunger, thirst, sex, taste, smell, touch, and sleep). The next two levels are equally ubiquitous: safety/security and belonging/love/social needs. Most people do not require a pep talk to go after these.

Maslow’s final two levels, Esteem and Self-Actualization/Fulfillment, are more like “Want To Do’s” than “Have To Do’s.” They may constitute the essence of human life, but they are not essential for human life. Many people languish all their lives, for example, in oppressive jobs with dictatorial “Have-To-Do” mandates that work against both Esteem and Self-Actualization/Fulfillment. If you’re in such a position, it may be time to make a change.

— “Ought To Do’s.” Values represent the final source of human motivation. When values are clear and firmly held, they can do much to guide behavior and generate satisfaction. Whenever I have a conflict between two courses of action — like wanting to be in two places at one time • I default to my values in order to choose the course to take. We’ll spend a lot more time here before this series is over. Suffice it say, contrary to some coaches, I believe “should” has its place in a successful and fulfilled life.

What motivates you? Goals, needs, and values are all part of the equation. And one simple way to stay on top of your goals is to trip over them • day after day • until they’ve become second nature. It may seem weird to put a bike in the front hall of an elegant home, but it’s better than never riding at all.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


I just read your provision #197: Incorporate Yourself and I have a few questions. I have been considering starting an S-Corp for quite some time but is this a good idea when my brother is involved in the business? (Ed. Note: S Corporations are certainly not limited to nuclear family units. Contact a tax accountant and/or attorney for detailed advice.)


I love receiving your e-newsletter…it’s so inspiring! I noticed that you’re doing a weight loss coaching group and wondered if you’d mind sharing a little info with me if you have time. I, too, am starting to work with clients who want to lose weight and develop a healthier lifestyle…so I’m a little curious as to how you’re doing your group, what you focus on, etc. (Ed. Note: Weight loss coaching is a frequent request. The group is forming now if you want to participate in order to learn more.)


Thanks for reminding me of the importance of stretching! I ran across a book for women that is very helpful with this issue and with building strength, toning, achieve balance and ending fatigue. The book is “The Core Program” by Peggy W. Brill. (See below to order from Amazon.) The fitness program was designed by a physical therapist for women but I know there are benefits for men too!


I am an Eye Doctor at Salem, Tamil Nadu, India. At the age of 45, I have started a project, my very own Eye Care Center. While I am confident of my performance, the motivation seems to be ebbing. The competition is intense and the pressures of the day to day life are very stressful. I am a Hindu by religion and it is said that, “When the Pupil is read the Master will always appear!” I have found this to be true. Whenever there was a need and I was asking for help Somebody has always appeared and helped me. I request you to kindly help me find ways and means of team building, allowing my people to grow, more compassion and generally become a more useful citizen.



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

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