If someone asks: “What’s in it for me?”, we tend to think they’re being selfish, and yet, in all honesty, if you don’t appreciate the benefit of doing something, the chances are you simply won’t do it.

Actors understand this. They often ask: “what’s my motivation in this scene?”. In other words: “Why would the character I’m playing do what they’re about to do? What’s the benefit?”

There is a perceived benefit to everything we choose to do in life, and it’s worth being aware of that when setting goals for yourself. If the benefit isn’t clear to you, you’re unlikely to achieve the goal.

For example you may set yourself a goal to lose weight, get a new job or earn a certain amount of money, far more than you currently do – and yet, if you’re finding it difficult to imagine how good it will feel once you’ve achieved your goal, then you won’t be motivated to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Your personal values determine the perceived benefits of realising a particular goal. Your values are the things in life which are of utmost importance to you – the things you’ll put the extra effort into, to guarantee their success.

If you place a high value on having a good family life, for example, then you will go out of your way to ensure your family is happy and secure. If one of your top values is making lots of money, you’ll come up with ways of earning money that other people wouldn’t even think of.

If you’re feeling stuck, setting yourself goals and failing to achieve them, ask yourself: “what’s in it for me, if I achieve this goal?” If you’re unable to identify a clear benefit, then take a look at whether the goal fits in with your underlying values.

If it doesn’t, ask yourself which of your values is in conflict with the goal, or whether that value is missing all together. You can then decide whether your values need to be updated to reflect what you want to achieve.

It’s also worth keeping this in mind if you’re a manager, setting goals for your team. By understanding what motivates each individual member of the team and taking into account their personal values and perceived benefits when defining specific tasks, you will increase the likelihood of the individual achieving their targets.

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