Motivation – White Paper


Motivation is literally the desire to do things. It’s the difference between waking up before dawn and getting productive and lazing around the house all day. It’s a crucial element in setting and attaining goals.

In other words, motivation is the inner power that pushes us toward taking action and toward achievement. Sometimes, we might have the desire to get something done, or to achieve a certain goal, but if the desire and ambition are not strong enough, we lack the push, the initiative and the willingness to take the necessary action. In these cases, we can say that we lack motivation or inner drive.

According to Sigmund Freud, we are born with a pleasure principle, that we will seek immediate gratification of needs, for which our bodies reward us with feelings of pleasure. The reverse is also true, and the pain principle says that, whilst seeking pleasure people will also seek to avoid pain.

This pleasure-pain principle was originated by Sigmund Freud in modern psychoanalysis, although Aristotle mentioned a similar idea in his ‘Rhetoric’, more than 300 years BC. Nowadays, this principle has been further researched and is studied in the field of neuro-linguistic programming as one of the meta programs – the motivation direction.

Meta programs are advanced patterns of thinking that control what we perceive, or in other words, they are mental processes which manage, guide and direct other mental processes.

A computer’s software programs can be a good way to describe how meta programs work. It is often the case in computer programming that one program controls the execution of a number of other programs, selecting which ones will run at which times, and sending them the information they need in order to function properly. This happens much in the same way with people, and the way we get motivated is a part of our higher mental processes which affect some of our other patterns of thinking.


Motivation: Towards

People who are motivated towards what they want find it easy to stay focused on their goals. They think in terms of goals to be achieved and are often motivated to have, get, achieve, attain, etc.

Because of their concentration on goals to be accomplished, they tend to be good at managing priorities and they are naturally energized by their objectives.

People with a strong toward pattern often have trouble either identifying problems or recognizing what should be avoided. At the extreme, they could be perceived by others as being naïve because they often do not take potential obstacles into account.

Sentence Structure:

–     Talks about what they can get, achieve, gain, have, etc.
–     Inclusion.
–     What they want, goals, objectives.

Body language:

–     Pointing towards something, head nodding, gestures of inclusion.


Motivation: Away From

People who are motivated by staying away from what they don’t want find it easy to notice what should be avoided, gotten rid of and they always keep in mind what should not happen. Their motivation is triggered when there is a problem to be solved or when there is something to move away from, and they are naturally energized by threats.  A clear example of this would be a salesperson saying:

“If I don’t get out there and sell, I won’t be able to pay my bills at the end of the month.”

Deadlines can be a great way to get this type of people into action.

Generally speaking, people who are motivated away from what they don’t want are usually good at trouble-shooting, solving problems and at recognizing possible challenges during planning because they automatically notice what is or can go wrong.

However, this category of people could find it hard to maintain focus on their goals because they are easily distracted and are compelled to respond to negative situations. They are the type of people who will drop everything to fix something. At the extreme, they forget what their priorities are and instead concentrate on treating crisis situations.

Away from people encounter difficulties when managing priorities because whatever is wrong will immediately attract most of their attention. They are also often perceived by others as being cynical, particularly by people who are motivated towards something.

Sentence Structure:

–     Will mention situations to be avoided, gotten rid of.
–     Exclusion of unwanted situations, things.
–     Problems and challenges.

Body language:

–     Gestures of exclusion, shaking head, arms indicating that something is to be avoided or gotten rid of.



Examples of IntenCheck text analysis results for motivation


Our system can detect the motivation direction expressed throughout a text by analyzing the types of words used in the sentence structures. In the following examples we have chosen to analyze two personal mission statements and show how the motivation direction differs.


Text 1 (Personal Mission – Olpin):

Strive to provide for you the tools that can help you manage stress more effectively and thereby, live more satisfying and rewarding lives. I believe that personal health and wellness means being able to do whatever you want to do at the level you want to do it. Health is not an end but a means to accomplishing everything else you want to do in life. Combined with proper nutrition and appropriate exercise, managing stress will allow you to accomplish your goals and desires joyfully and with an abundance of energy.

Motivation Type Value Range Value
Away  therm-normal 0.580966
Towards  therm-very-high 0.963422

The text above contains language that resonates well with people who are motivated by what they want to achieve. The text focuses on the desired outcome and uses words such as ‘accomplish’ , ‘goals’, ‘rewarding’ which help communicate the message, while creating a feeling of motivation driven by the desire to achieve.


Text 2 (Personal Mission – Char):

My purpose for being on this earth is to help others recognize, develop, and use their God-given intuitive abilities to ease suffering and grow in goodness, love, compassion, and wisdom. My mission is to help take away fear–the fear of death, by proving that we don’t die and will see our loved ones again, and the fear of living, by showing how we can tap in to our wisest selves and make our lives much happier and easier. My desire is to help each of us connect to the love that is eternal, that is the reason for our existence.

Motivation Type Value Range Value
Away  therm-high 0.87916
Towards  therm-normal 0.608011

The paragraph above contains language that works especially well with people who are motivated by moving away from what they don’t want. In this example, the author of the text focuses primarily on solving problems (‘take away fear’, ‘ease suffering’) and the words chosen easily reflect the ‘Away’ motivation type expressed throughout the text. A high number of words with negative connotation (‘death’, ‘fear’, ‘die’, ‘suffering’) are also used to get the reader to take action by thinking of what they need to avoid.



  1. Charvet, Shelle R. (1997). Words that change minds: Mastering the language of influence (2nd Revised edition). Hushion House.