True Motivation



I first heard of Dan Pink when browsing through some of the more popular talks on the TED website. Dan Pink has written books on career and businesses. In his latest book, he has taken a great interest in researching and publicizing what it is that motivates people. This content is what fueled his TED talk in July of 2009 and, more recently, another video that he put together. The general premise of these new ideas in motivation, as Philip Brewer puts it:

Paying more for excellent performance is not only a poor way to motivate people, it is actually counterproductive. When a large bonus depends on doing outstanding work, work quality declines. – Philip Brewer

The video does a great job of going into details of how motivation impacts businesses and the people running them. At about 5:16 in the video, Pink mentions that research shows that there are three factors that truly motivates people:

  1. Autonomy
  2. Mastery
  3. Purpose

I will go as far as to say that not only do the above factors motivate people to do excellent work, these are the same factors that make people happy in any organization. So, if science tells us that this is how people are motivated for work would the same motivation apply for independent travel?

Let’s take a look. Looking through independent travel websites or reading books on the subject “personal independence” is always marked as one of the top reasons why people set out and travel in the first place! Independent travelers plan where they are going, where they are staying, who they will meet, or how they are going to do it all. They have no immediate responsibility beyond themselves. Autonomy: check!

Mastery is a bit trickier, and I am sure this one is different for every individual, but one thing is for certain is that travel is like everything else. The more you travel the better you get at it. For those who might not know exactly what I mean, just think of your first vacation you planned with your family and the most recent. Assuming they are not the same, I would be willing to bet that your stress or anxiety levels of the two trips differ. This is because you have gotten better at traveling! You know more of what to expect, you know what to pack, you know of things that could go wrong. You are wiser and more experienced. Mastery: checked!

We hit the existential question of purpose. Once again, this one is likely to change from person to person. Most independent travelers that I have come across find a greater bond to humanity through their travels. As Mark Twain said “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness”.

Looking into the research, we can see that independent travel feeds great internal motivator for many. Of course, we already knew that. Now we just have some science to back that up!

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