The following is an example of what it is like to be in my writing group, or to be my daughter when I am critiquing written work.  It is also what it is like to be my friend.  I can be quite pedantic…

The following definitions are brought to you by

Will- the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action

want-have a desire to possess or do

motivation- the reason one has for acting or behaving in a particular way

My friend SF and I recently got into an argument  discussion about the above mentioned words.  The specific topic was how you treat your partner:

  1. Are you WILLING to do something for your partner
  2. Do you WANT to do something for your partner
  3. Are you MOTIVATED to do something for your partner.

SF thinks that these are all saying the same thing.  I said the only one that matters is WANT.  Here’s my rationale:

To be willing to do something, or have the will means that you might act in a specific manner because you know that it is something your partner wants you to do.  You would not do this thing for any other reason than your partner desires it, and you might not be 100% on board with this idea.

To be motivated, or have motivation means it’s a quid quo pro sort of deal.  You are motivated to act in a certain way because you know that you will get something in return.

To want means you have absolutely no qualms about doing this for your partner, it is something you are 100% on board for, and you don’t expect anything in return.

Does anyone understand what I’m saying besides me?

I want you to think about relationships that you are in- they don’t have to be romantic.  Family or friendship works as well.  When you do something for someone else- what propels you to act in the way that you do?

Let’s give some examples.  I love all genres of film except gory horror,

  1. My husband is willing to go to the Quad Cinema with me and see an art house film because there is a good Italian restaurant across the street
  2. My Husband is motivated to go to the Upper West Side really good IMAX movie theater (hard to get to by mass transit from my apartment) because he knows there’s a good French dip place
  3. My Husband wants to see the new Avengers movie no matter where it’s playing because food is a non issue.

My Husband is all about the food- he begins his day by asking “What’s for breakfast” followed by “what’s for lunch” ending with “what’s for dinner”.  He is willing to do something or motivated to do something if there is a carrot (literally and figuratively) dangled in front of his nose.  Willing and motivated are conditional: you will not do them unless there is strong reason for you to do so.

Wanting is unconditional.  Wanting requires nothing in return. Wanting to do something comes from deep inside of you.  You want to do something because you love someone and the only thing you want is for them to be happy. And sure- you loving them is sort of a reward, but you shouldn’t need a reward to love or be loved.  Love is unconditional.

See- wanting and love are both unconditional.

So what’s the point? Words matter.  What you say, how you say it – it all matters. Think about the words you use when talking about the people in your life.  Are they unconditional words?  If they’re not unconditional, ask yourself why you are putting conditions on the people that you care about.

So- what do you think?  Are all these words the same, or are their subtle differences ad nuances?  Do you think the words that you choose matter?




38 thoughts on “Will, Want, Motivated

  1. I totally get it…when you want something you are going to do it no matter what…when you are willing it’s more of a ‘sure I guess I could do that’…words are extremely important especially in relationships!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Mostly I agree about the nuanced differences between these three words. But, I am not convinced that motivation must be about getting something in return for your action. Can’t a person have selfless motives?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The way I interpret motivation is that there needs to be a catalyst…even selfless things, like I only have one roll, I’m going to give it my my child not so much out of selflessness, but desire to feed your child because you want them to be healthy…but see, that what I love about words….hearing how others interpret them and their meaning.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You provide excellent food for thought. I agree with you that words matter. But after much thought I must say that I fall into SF’s category. You are correct in your thinking that wanting, willing and motivation are separate words and actions, but what also comes into play is personality. For instance, it is in my nature to always “want” to please others before I put myself first, so my motivation would be an act of service of loving, not doing something unconditionally. I want a response, I want them to be happy, and that becomes my motivation. I have discovered that I connect all three dynamics together. Which is what I suppose SF is doing as well. With that being said, I have also discovered over the last few years, that in doing so, I have lost myself. Pleasing others has opened me up to much heartache. Because my needs, wants and willingness to do for others has all been tied up in the same bundle, I have had to learn the difference between willing to do for others, wanting to do for others vs wanting my needs met and being motivated for the right reasons. You see, when you constantly seek to please others, you sometimes learn to “manipulate” them to get your needs met, which is motivation for the wrong reason. Human nature sometimes gets lost in the three aspects. Good for you that you have a handle on your wants, willingness and motivation. I have learned a great lesson from you today which I think will help me to be more AUTHENTIC! CG

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Words matter. I have a friend having trouble at work because someone else took what he said differently than he meant them. My children are very literal. I never realized that ‘going to bed’s and ‘going to sleep’s are 2 different things until I had a debate with an 8 year old at 1am! I still debate with that child and he’s 25 now. And that saying about sticks and stones lies! Words hurt way worse that sticks and stone ever could.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great perspective on the power of words and the messages they convey. Much conflict and unhappiness can result from the wrong choice of words and some might not even recognize this. We really do have to work on communication and have respect for the words we choose 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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