Tony Robbins is extraordinarily skilled with words. He has an extraordinary ability to pierce right to the heart of your pain, frustrations, and desires to get to the real core of who you are and what you NEED to move forward. Tony Robbins understands people and what they want. This, he says, tells him EXACTLY why they do what they do, good or bad.

In this TEDTalk, Tony breaks down what he believes are the 6 things we all need that motivate us in everything we do. Each need affects us differently and, depending on which need is strongest, will define and shape the way you focus, make decisions, and act. When you understand your needs, you can change your focus and significantly boost your motivation to change your behavior and work toward eliminating the frustration and anger that stem from not achieving what you truly desire.

There are literally hundreds of psychological studies and theories on what motivates human behavior; from the more well-known theories such as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to lesser known but equally valid theories that have been put into practice in everything from motivating employees to helping children learn more effectively. Whichever theory you subscribe to, each one agrees that we act in respond to need, and that if we can identify and understand that need, we can consciously shape our behavior.

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So how is this helpful?

Figuring out what you need is the key to creating a successful change in your behavior. Take starting a new exercise program as an example – ask yourself what need will this fulfil for you? Is it the need to have more energy, so that you can play with the kids without feeling exhausted? Is it the need for approval from the opposite sex? Is it the need for achievement and recognition from others? Is it the need for power and control over your life? Take a few moments to sift through and really get to the WHY – why do you want to do this? What NEED do you have that this will meet? If you can identify that, you have unlocked the source of your motivation and can direct your focus towards those things that with increase your motivation, not damage it.

Recommended book: Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of your Mental, Emotional, Physical, and Financial Destiny by Tony Robbins

In our example, let’s say your need is for more energy to play with the kids. How can you use this to motivate you to do the exercise? The exercise itself is not intrinsically motivating for you – that is, you are not motivated by sheer enjoyment or pleasure of doing the exercise itself. You need an extrinsic motivator – something external to yourself that will motivate you to do it. You now know your kids are that motivator, so make them your focus when you think about the exercise program! Use whatever tools will work for you to remind you of your WHY. Put pictures of them where you exercise, call them on the phone afterwards to tell them how it went, or get them involved and exercise together! By linking your need directly to the activity, your motivation will soar and your chances of success will increase exponentially.

This process can also work in reverse, and help you identify the changes you need to make in situations that make you unhappy. The source of your unhappiness will be an unmet need, which once identified can help you distinguish what you need to do instead to better meet this need and feel happier.

I invite you to watch the Tony Robbins TEDTalk and see if you can identify any of the six core needs he speaks of as affecting your emotions or behavior right now. Which needs do you have that are not being met? What actions do you need to take, and what motivators can you link to them from your WHY? Leave us some feedback below – I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article and on Tony’s TEDTalk!

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