25 Jan As a teenager the challenges you face can be tough so how do you know what makes you tick? [Part 1]
Have you ever wondered why you like a certain activity or thought about what draws you to a particular television show or computer game? What about the subjects you choose to do at school or the subjects you perform best in? Why do you think that you’re drawn to them?
Would it surprise you if I said that what makes us tick, what motivates and drives us actually has a science behind it? Well, it does and it’s pretty cool once you know the how and the why.
“There are two great days in a person’s life—the day we are born and the day we discover why.”
Find your inspiration
Welcome to the next installment of the Spark to your Success blog. This blog is dedicated to helping you and all teenagers deal with the challenges of today’s society, to show you ways to find your spark and to embrace life as it should be. The Spark to Success is designed to give you a little bit of inspiration and motivation and to encourage positive thinking to make you a stronger, more confident individual and to overcome any obstacles you face.
Why do certain activities or interests energise you?
Let’s get straight into what makes you tick so that you have an understanding of where your own thoughts come from and the thoughts of those around you. I’ve studied a lot in the UK and the US about personal development and neuroscience. In particular, I’ve learnt a lot from Tony Robbins who is a personal development and motivational guru from the States. If personal development was a religion he would be like the high priest. If he was a mountain he would be Everest or if he were a planet he would be Jupiter. He’s one of the very best at what he does and has the ability to take complicated concepts and break them down into smaller yet powerful parts that can be shared easily and implemented within your daily life. Imagine if you could understand what makes you tick in such an easy way that it could impact your life for the better and enable you to learn and grow as a person. Well, Tony Robbins came up with the six human needs that everyone, including you, has to have in order to function in life.
Over years of research and presenting material to many thousands of people, Tony noticed that it didn’t matter what country people grew up in, what their culture was, what language they spoke, whether they were male or female, or what career paths they had chosen. What he did notice was that despite these differences, every single person had the same needs. And it’s the understanding six needs that will help you to twig with what makes you, and those around you, tick.
“There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live.”
The six essential human needs
Now this is going to sound a little dramatic but I want you to think about this next section, as I introduce the six needs, seriously.
You have to meet all six needs or you will die.
As I said, it sounds dramatic but these needs are all driving forces that determine how you behave and they are a force to be reckoned with for a darn good reason.
Grab a pen and paper or open a fresh document on your computer, tablet or phone to make notes about each of the six needs. Question each of them and jot down bullet points about what each need means to you as you think about situations you’ve been in. We’ll summarise at the end of the six needs.
1. The need for certainty and uncertainty
‘Certainty’ gives you a sense of safety, peace of mind, a feeling that you are in control of your world both inside and out. Certainty is all about knowing what to expect today, tomorrow, next week, and what’s coming up in your future life. But think about it from a different point of view … have you seen the movie Groundhog Day? The one where the guy wakes up every morning and repeats the same activities over and over. But that’s not true to life is it? Plus it would be a pretty boring life too, who wants to do the same thing over and over and over again?
So, with that in mind, you also have a need for ‘uncertainty’ or shall I say ‘variety’. You need a certain amount of excitement in your life, a sense of anticipation and something to look forward to. How do you feel about nice surprises or a new positive challenge? They feel good right? But at the same time, if all things were uncertain you would probably freak out, start to feel anxious and get stressed.
It’s a bit like sitting a maths test, which is followed by the inevitable period of waiting for the results. That little voice, your internal dialogue inside, starts talking about the ‘what if you fail’ and maybe you should have answered this or that … it’s nerve-racking!
Ultimately you need both certainty and uncertainty in your life but you have to have them in a balance that’s ideal for you at that time.
Exercise – think back to the last time you were completely certain that you knew what the outcome of a situation was going to be. Were you going somewhere, meeting someone, sitting a science test or attending a family event? Why were you certain? Make a note of this and also write down the last situation where you felt out of your depth and unsure about what was going to happen.
2. The need for love and significance
Born as a human you were never meant to be alone. You are wired for ‘connection’ and a need to be around other people. A solitary live is rarely a happy life. It has even been shown that not having people and things around you that make you feel happy can really affect your mood. In extreme cases, it’s been know to result in death – it’s called ‘failure to thrive’.
Sometimes, people can be hurt in love, either family love or a romantic relationship and the outcome is to put up a wall for protection, to cut all ties and not want to go there again. And yet you still have to connect with people. These connections can be with friends, family, teachers, role models or work colleagues. They will be people who you share common likes and interests with, but there will also come a point when you feel as though you need some space – some time for you as an individual.
You are unique and not like everyone else so there will be times when you enjoy your own company and need to take a step back. You have your own purpose and ‘significance’ in life and you need to be free to explore this. But if you step back too far away from people then it’s difficult to connect again. Loneliness and phobias around social interaction and leaving the house can lead to anxiety and depression, which is a place you need to avoid at all costs.
Again, a balance is required between the connection and love and freedom and significance. Tipping the scales too far either way is problematic.
Exercise – make a note of the community groups and social media groups you are part of. Why does this interest you and how do you connect with the people involved? Also, think about the last time you felt as though you needed to pull away from a situation or person and be by yourself? What caused you to feel this way?
3. The need to learn and grow, and contribute
If you don’t like being at school or enjoy the subjects you’re studying you may find this hard to believe but you have a need to ‘learn’. This is why you have curiosity about certain topics (they may not be national curriculum related) and choose to read books, listen to podcasts, seek out website and interest groups. This is how you grow as a person and gain new knowledge and skills. If you do not learn and grow then you are just vegetating and dying. Once again I’ve been extreme in my choice of language but the point is important.
Equally, you have a built-in need to ‘contribute’. To do something outside yourself in time, money, effort or skills that leave a little ding in the universe before you’re gone. This could be volunteering at the local dog rescue centre, helping the elderly with house chores or donating a monthly amount to your favourite charity.
You cannot take too much or give too much without upsetting the balance.
Exercise – What was the last thing you enjoyed learning about? Write down each element that you found interesting and try to think why that was. At the same time, list everything that you contribute to that you don’t either get paid for or that you have to do (such as the washing up for your parents). If you can’t think of anything that you contribute to at the moment, is there anything that you would really want to do should you have the time and ability? An example could be volunteering at a monkey sanctuary, helping out at food bank or donating to a community charity event.
I want to stress again the importance of having a balance of all your needs. Too much of one can cause upset, emotional turmoil and this will affect how you enjoy life. I’m going to end this blog here but in the next one I’ll go in to more detail about the negative behaviours that can arise from your needs not being met positively. It happens and it’s OK as long as you are able to recognise why and to alter the way you meet your needs.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Choose the life you want to lead
Until next time, focus on being you and enjoying the uniqueness that makes you so special and an inspiration to others around you.
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