What Is Your Driver?
What helps you enjoy things and how can you use it?
I’m the weak duckling in my friend group. Most of my friends are sportsy, outdoorsy types who thrive on adrenaline and performance. Me? Everybody’s last pick in PE in high school. Despite this, I actually enjoy exercise and I know it’s good for me. So a few months ago, I asked one of my most sportsy friends if she could recommend me something I’d truly enjoy. She gave it some thought and said: “Well, that depends. What is your motivation when doing sports?” When I tried to explain I just wanted to have fun, she clarified – sure, we all want to have fun, but for each of us, fun is created by something else. For instance, she immensely enjoyed being off the ground, the higher the better. A different friend of ours can exercise forever just to keep getting better. So what was it that made a particular activity fun for me?
This was an eye-opener. So far, I was only familiar with Gretchen Rubin’s 4 tendencies (a motivation framework focusing on whether you want to meet or resist your own and others’ expectations). Although I don’t doubt this framework has it’s uses, it focuses on ‘external’ motivations – you’re not doing something because you enjoy it, but to meet (or resist) what someone (even if it’s you) is expecting of you. Wouldn’t it be more exciting if you could do something just because you genuinely enjoy doing it? How could we do that? That’s what I want to talk about today!
6 enjoyment drivers
First of all, I’d like you to imagine a situation where you’re not depending on anyone else or the consequences of your actions. Whatever you choose to do – imagine nobody will judge you for it one way or the other. Not even you yourself. The only thing that matters is that whatever it is you choose, is something you enjoy on an emotional level. What would you end up doing? And what makes this particular activity fun for you?
Sensations and beauty
The first important driver I see in a lot of people is sensations. Now if your house is a giant mess and you don’t put any effort into choosing an outfit – that’s okay. While beauty can certainly be visual, it doesn’t have to. In fact, it doesn’t have to be sensory at all.
When it comes to drivers, there are two types of beauty. One is aesthetical. If that’s your driver, you enjoy making things look / sound / feel / taste / smell good (whatever your definition of good is in that moment). You’re probably sensitive for sensitive stimuli, too.
There’s also a different kind of beauty, and it’s about order. You like things to make sense. It’s the beauty one might find in solving certain puzzles or mathematics. Either way, if your main driver is beauty, you care about improving things – making them better, more beautiful, more right.
One of my personal main drivers is novelty. If you’re like me, you’ll try a lot of things at least once, and often as long as they keep offering you something new. Activities you’ll enjoy most (and stick with longest) offer a lot of new information and experiences.
A friend of mine is driven by performance – she continuously challenges herself to grow and get better at whatever she does. If this is your driver, too, setting goals and reaching them really helps you enjoy something.
Yet another driver is competition. If this one is yours, you can easily be motivated to do pretty much anything, as long as there’s someone else of a similar level doing it too. You live for the thrill of winning.
If your main driver is community, you care about the people who do the same activity. This doesn’t mean you have to be on the same team – it just means you want to be surrounded by likeminded spirits. You’ll likely seek out activities with people you get along with.
Being driven by community doesn’t mean you’re an extravert, nor is it incompatible with social anxiety. Your community can be physically there or spread over the earth. Sometimes, you won’t even know others in your community face to face, but their existence is enough to motivate you.
If you care about impact, you are driven by the impact your results have on others and/or the world. You don’t necessarily care about others’ gratitude or even recognition – it’s enough for you to know you’re making a difference.
Use your drivers to fuel you
Knowing your inner drivers – whether it’s just one or multiple – can help you pick hobbies and activities you’ll actually enjoy, making it easier to stick with them for a longer time. For me, novelty and community are the most important, so I’ve spent years playing chess, learning photography, pole dancing, doing improvisation theatre. My friend who enjoys heights, cares about sensations and beauty (I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn she’s an artist, too).
But that’s not all. Knowing what drives you, can also help you enjoy activities you wouldn’t enjoy naturally. Even household chores can become fun if you find kindred spirits to share your tips and tricks with (if your driver is community), or set goals and find ways to improve your cleaning skills (if you care about performance).
What driver(s) do you relate to most?