Lots of theories have been developed with the purpose of explaining what motivates people to change. Some theories provided a good insight on the methods that can be used to motivate people while many others gave a very superficial explanation of motivation dynamics.
For example, one of the famous theories that explain how to motivate employees at work stated that people would be motivated if they were allowed to earn more money as a result of their work. While money can motivate lots of us still giving 1 million dollar to a billionaire for doing something that he doesnt want to do will never motivate him to do it.
The problem with the question What motivates people to change is that its asked in the wrong way. People are different and each one of them have his own needs, wants and triggers. The right way to ask that question would be “what motivates a certain person to change”.
if there is a need there is a motivation
If someone is truly in need of money then surely money can motivate him but if he has piles of it then it will never have the same effect on him. Everyone of us has grown up without meeting some of his needs.
Some people failed to become successful and so would do anything to find success, others failed to collect money and so will become motivated whenever they get paid and a third group failed to become recognized and so will do anything to acquire fame.
If you want to motivate someone to change or to do something then you must first understand his needs, wants then tie the change to these needs.
Motivating someone to quit a bad habit must be done on the basis of his unmet needs. If the person has financial problems then explaining to him how smoking wastes his money can be a good method to change him while if he has health concerns then talking about money will never do any good.
Lots of people do the mistake of trying to motivate people with disregard to their needs, for example the health warnings that appear on cigarette packs only motivates those who are obsessed about their health and no one else!!
Motivation is like happiness
Just as happiness is one of the most understood concept to the majority of people, motivation is the same. What makes Sam happy is never the same thing that will make Sarah happy nor its by any means the thing that will make Mark happy.
It all depends about their unmet needs which are rarely unique among groups of people.
How to motivate a group of people to change?
If you want to motivate few people to change then digging into their unmet needs and understanding what motivates them will be the best way but what if you want to motivate a big group of people?
What if you want to motivate hundreds to like you, thousands to visit your blog or millions to accept your new Tax policy? We all have different unmet needs but when a big group of people experience some common life events they tend to become motivated by the same triggers.
For example if a whole country is living under the rule of a tyrant king then surely they will all be motivated to vote for someone else or at least to change the situation to the better. The reason 2knowmyself gets over 400,000 visits each month is that there are a certain group of people who have been raised to understand the importance of healing themselves and thats why they all are motivated to visit my site each month.
So you can motivate a whole group of people by understanding the common drive that they are all having then motivate them to achieve their need using that drive.
Positive and negative motivation
people can either be motivated to avoid pain or to gain rewards. both pain avoidance and the desire for a reward should be tied to the unmet needs the person has. For example when a parent wants to motivate his child to change he must understand what the child needs and what he doesnt need.
If the child doesnt care about money then surely telling him that he would not be given any money if he didnt do the homework wont do any good.
To summarize this all, we are all different and in order to motivate someone to change you must understand his unmet needs first then use them to motivate him.