Three D’s for Motivation – Direction, Decision, and Dedication


Three Ds for Motivation

“Really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain

Motivation is your drive and it’s a skill you can build.  When it comes to your performance, motivation is one of the most important things you control. One of my favorite places to look for motivation practices is sports.  After all, athletes depend on motivation to perform their best.

In the article The Power of Prime, Jim Taylor, Ph.D. outlines the three D’s of what he calls prime motivation:

  • Direction – Consider three potential directions: stop, continue your level, or become your best.
  • Decision – Decide on your direction (stop, continue your level, or improve.)  This tells you how much time and effort to put in, based on how good you want to become.
  • Dedication – Dedicate yourself to your direction and decision.  It’s your level of dedication that will limit or enable your results.

It’s a simple frame, but I like how it lays out your options and puts it in black and white.  It also helps you troubleshoot your thinking.  For example, if you want to become your best, but you’re not putting in your time and effort, then there’s a mismatch.  In an opposite example, you might not want to improve at something, in which case, you might trim down the time and energy you spend on it, so you can invest it somewhere else.

Photo by Iqbal Saggu.


  1. I find it interesting what isn’t in here, a “why.” I suppose it is an implicit part of the decision part in determining how to make that decision, but it is a noticeable absence to my mind.

    I also find it odd how there isn’t a reflection spot here. It ends with a sort of “Just go!” which somehow doesn’t totally sit well with me. I like to consider afterwards how did things go so that I can know if I do need to do a lot of work or if I think it isn’t that worthwhile to do. For example, is it worthwhile to spend 100 hours trying to get bettter at a random number guessin game? I don’t it is, but that’s me. Heck, even at the start there isn’t really much thought to thinking about at where one is, is there?

    At times I can wonder how much does emotion play into motivation. Does that feeling of being the hero add more drive to a situation? How about the feeling of thanks and appreciation? Just something to ponder.

  2. Having been sentenced to sit still and be calm to heal my body has been excruciating for me. I have to keep reminding myself of my motivation: to be well and pain free…I am so happy to have a wee bit of a walk added to my day. I have to admit though it is healing faster this year, when I do just sit and work or being relaxed and open – watching comedies on the computer is also grand – have to be careful about laughing out loud!!!

    Being able to breath without pain is priceless 🙂

  3. It’s funny you mentioned that you get your motivation from sports. I have realized in recent months that I get my motivation from music. The trick is to remember to listen to the right music when I need an extra push!

  4. Nice article J.D. I enjoy these alliterations that open us to different ideas for helping our well-being. It makes them easier to remember. I read another article on the three F’s we should overcome in life in order to reach success, and those are frustration, fear, and failure.

  5. I appreciate the simplicity of that. I also love how as I’m writing this comment and thinking about what it means to me, in your “Tags” box, the word EFFECTIVENESS is practically jumping off the page at me! Subtle… but EFFECTIVE!

    Have a great week!

  6. There are too many times that I decide to continue my present direction without consciously doing it. Because I’m not actively making the choice to stay with my direction I’m floundering. I like the idea of stopping, staying course, or deciding to become amazing. I know that I have greatness in me, but I have to let that fear go and decide to become awesome. As always great food for thought.

  7. @ JB

    I think in the context of the original article it’s about turning your motivation into a driving force to be your best … your prime motivation. With that in mind, it’s a very different scenario than putting one foot in the water.

    I agree — reflecting and knowing your why help fuel the fire and correct course.

    @ Patricia

    There’s a lot to be said for the power of comedy. I Love Lucy is, Two and a 1/2 Men, and Family Guy are some of my reliable remedies.

    @ Melissa

    Music and movies are some of my favorite sources of motivation. Vision Quest is one of those movies that does it for me.

    @ Hulbert

    Thank you!

    I can see how Frustration, Fear, and Failure are obstacles to success and I like the frame.

    @ Megan

    I didn’t realize how much EFFECTIVENESS is popping out, but I like that. It’s definitely an empowering word, and you’re right, that’s motivating.

    @ Karl

    I like the bold way you frame it, and deciding to become amazing at something is very empowering.

  8. Hi JD .. when the picture first appeared in the reader and I could see the title – Direction, Decision and Dedication .. I thought they were ice dancers – didn’t last long! Lovely photo though.

    Your points are well made – it is getting on that path and then you’re off. The ice skater, who has just lost her mother, .. is a case in point – she has done her direction, made her decision, dedicated herself to being the best and at the Olympics, then her mother suddenly dies – but she can continue (with difficulty I’m sure) because those years of training and dedication kick in automatically.

    As you mention – it’s the mismatches that can hold us back .. it’s settling down and going forward, being aware of what you’re doing –so you can adjust if necessary – but putting in your three Ds.

    Thanks JD

  9. @ Hilary

    When I found the photo, it wasn’t what I had in mind, but it was just too good on multiple levels, so I ran with it.

    Mismatches really can get in the way and hacking away at the mismatch is both energizing and freeing.

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