Things we want and desire that we work towards; or those things we find on some level painful we want to move away from.
These are often classified as 'towards' motivation and 'away from' motivation, or pleasure and pain.
It seems logical and simple doesn't it?
However people are complex things and often motivation towards a positive result is simply masking movement away from a deeper rooted pain.
As it's name suggests, towards motivation is all about moving toward a goal.
If you are predominantly a towards motivated person you will do things for the reward at the end of the task.
Towards motivated people tend to strive to be the best and crave recognition. They are motivated by competition and love targets and league tables.
Away motivation is linked to pain, which is one of the greatest motivators.
Now we're not talking necessarily about physical pain, it can be physical or have elements of physical discomfort but it might also be emotional or physiological discomfort.
Generally away motivated individuals do things out of fear of what might happen. It often takes an extreme measure to prompt an an away motivated individual into action. Also, once a little action is taken and the situation instantly becomes less threatening that motivation quickly evaporates.
This is characterised by just doing enough to get by.
The classic example used to illustrate towards and away from motivation is smoking.
For the towards motivated person they quit because they want the health benefits and lifestyle of a non-smoker.
For the away from motivated person they are worried about the health consequences of smoking and so stop out of fear.
Many people tend to use one system more frequently than the other, but this does not mean that you should discard your less dominant motivational system. You should make effective use of both systems to ensure that you are harnessing your full motivational potential.
Another example (courtesy of www.uncommonforum.com)
Away from motivation
The first man had grown up in poverty, never knew what Christmas presents were, never guaranteed that there was food on the table, constantly hearing his parents argue about money. This man had it set in his mind that once he grew up he would not be poor, he would not have his children live in the environment he did when growing up. To him he linked extreme pain to being poor and did everything he could to move away from it. He was a classic case of away from motivation, yet he had great success at what he did. He has successfully implemented this strategy in other aspects of his life as well. During hard times he would catch changes that were happening because for him it was an anticipation of pain. So he took action before it got to that point.Towards motivation
The other man had a very different mindset. He grew up in a middle class family, had plenty to eat, got nice presents at Christmas and lived what a lot of us would call a good life. He was very much into sports and loved going to school. When he was about 16 years old he made up his mind that he wanted to make his first million by the age of 30, he had a very clear picture in his head of what it would look like, feel like, what it would sound like. The only thing he wasn´t sure about at that point was how he was going to do it. He applied the same technique to this as when he played sports, when he was on the field he knew exactly what it would feel like to score, what it sounded like with the crowd cheering and had a clear image as his fellow team mates gathered around him. He knew the technique behind towards motivation and used it in other aspects of his life as well. He was always looking for now opportunities and did his best at utilizing every chance he got.Peace