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What powers you? Have you stopped to consider? What moves you through your day? Why did you make the last decision you made, and what was your intent? Are you aligning your choices with where you want to go?
I created the Desire Engine model to bring focus to questions like those above and more. It offers a new perspective on just what inspires and motivates us forward in life—both individually and collectively. It can serve as a practical tool for bringing more presence and awareness to our choices, and as a way to help align these options with our goals and dreams. It helps us understand our internal framework when deciding on our direction and focus.

A rule of thumb for testing our alignment with our desire? Answer this question (honestly): Is this desire or preference in my highest interest over time?

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Desire Engine Graphic © 2011 Mark Petruzzi/Success Waypoint LLC

Purpose vs. Inspiration and Desire

These days there is a lot of attention given to the importance of "discovering one's purpose" and living a purposeful life. But by considering first what inspires us, we benefit from a powerful way of aligning with our mission for three reasons:

First, the answer to what inspires us is as near as an earnest listen to what's going on within us at any given moment. When we regularly ask what inspires, or creates a desire within us, we focus on making the choices that matter for living life now. Desire is what pulls us forward.

Next, Aligning our lives with what inspires us will almost always mean that we will soon choose thoughts and experiences that are more in tune with who we are and where we want to go. As a result, we'll find ourselves happier, and delivering more value to both ourselves, and to others.

Lastly, aligning with what inspires us will quite often lead us to fulfill our life's purpose, and on the way, we will have had great fun and will have contributed much more than if we'd only taken on someone else's idea of success or worth.

Not feeling motivated or inspired? Are you living according to someone else's equation? It's not a problem once you come to understand that you can only begin from where you are now. The decision made now to make more choices according to what inspires you will provide you the energy and courage to make small changes. These modest revisions will add up quickly to deliver the big changes you're seeking, and it will all happen from the inside out.

Can you think of a situation wherein acting powerfully on what inspired you was not the same as living purposefully? It is we who bring the meaning to our lives and actions. Our desire is what moves us. Our purpose is about delivering our value once desire attracts us to where we can best deliver it.

There are levels of motivation and levels of purpose. By working with some of the key desire engines operating in our lives, we can begin to shift our awareness. We turn our attention from our more externally influenced motivations (those we do for the approval of others) to our more internal ones (those we do because they connect with who we are, and our personal preferences, regardless of what others think or believe). When we succeed in this endeavor, our entire perspective shifts.

So, what is the Desire Engine?

The Desire Engine (DE) is a model that we can use to examine important “inner-life cycles” and see how these can influence our emotional and physical reality. We have multiple engines in play at all times. These internal cycles could last only the blink of an eye, or span a lifetime... or anything in between. Consciously working with these cycles can help us understand the difference between what motivates us from the inside out, and what is simply “going through the motions.”

The Desire Engine traces our natural progression in an internal cycle from "Perception," through "Desire" and "Creation," and back to "Experience" and "Evaluation." This progression powers our lives. The DE model further describes how we may use deliberate, conscious choice to give us a greater sense of engagement and empowerment as we move through the world.

The cycle is happening in our thought processes all the time—whether we are paying attention or not—yet, small, conscious changes to the Desire Engine cycle could mean significant changes in how we choose, create and experience our lives. Consciously using the knowledge of the Desire Engine is a choice we can make towards greater opportunity for productivity, expansion, and joy.

The more we work with the Desire Engine, the more aware we are of where our strengths and weaknesses are in making choices within the cycle. Even better, once we understand the cycle, we will have a powerful tool to help us make decisions and remove the obstacles and glitches that slow our forward motion.

It is helpful to recognize that behind all other desires and choices, is the goal to feel better. Once we recognize this, we can shift perspective to see if our current surface desires, intentions, attentions, and action choices, are lining us up with this core want.

The Basics

What gets us out of bed in the morning? What is the psychic energy that pulls us forward? Before going on, just think about it...
Well? Is it a breakfast meeting? A special project? Work that we love? Perhaps we feel that we must get out of bed, and so we do so to appease a belief, a person, or a principle.

No matter what reason we would give for getting out of bed in the morning, it's the emotional energy of desire that drives the action.

In other words, everything we do, we do because we want to do it. Period.

Desire is behind every choice each of us makes, and every action each of us takes — even if that goal is only to appease another or find relief from the tyranny of the superego.
Yes, every day, every moment, every decision we make is driven by desire. Would you like to eliminate desire? Can't do it. You see, the desire to remove desire is still a desire.

In the Desire Engine model, then, "Desire" is meant as both an emotional objective, and the energy driving to that goal.

When considering desire, many confuse inspiration with motivation, and both of those with desire. The Desire Engine model is now updated to include "Inspiration," so that we can see where it fits relative to "Desire": it comes just before it. For the Desire Engine model, we define the "Inspiration" stage as "The process during which desire is born of a perception. The moment between perception, and identifying a preference." Inspiration begets desire; desire motivates.

In other words, before you want something, you are inspired to want it. The perception of a gap between how you feel and how you would like to feel inspires you. Whether you then decide your new “like to have” is getting out of bed, a chocolate bar, or a workshop, it doesn’t matter. Your new want the thing that you believe will improve how you feel when you get it.

Your “like to have” can also include keeping something. In other words, avoidance of creating a gap. An extreme example: fear of losing your life is born of a desire to keep it, which was in turn inspired by a perceived threat.

Perhaps your mental model of inspiration does not include the mundane but is reserved for those moments in life that are only extraordinary enough to move you to tears, kick that habit you’ve wanted to kick for so long or shift your perspective enough to see things anew. In the Desire Engine, we'll ask you to assume that "Inspiration" is anything that sufficiently helps you identify the emotional difference between where you are now, and where you want to go, and then what you believe will get you there.

At this point, it's helpful to know that not all desires are created equal. There are "weak desires" and "strong desires." Weak desires are born of a perceived need for compliance with outside rules or consensus approval. Strong desires are those born of our essential nature, including those based on what's most important to us, and those that are inspired as we relate to who we truly are within our life, work and the world.

So while you'll notice that "Desire" in the Desire Engine is the first motivating step, you'll also see that "Inspiration" comes before it, and before "Inspiration," comes "Experience" and "Evaluation." Inside the model, we collectively hold these last two within the process of "Perception."

And since we are all perceptive beings, we'll start our discussion of the Desire Engine with "Perception" and "Experience."

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Desire Engine Graphic © 2011 Mark Petruzzi/Success Waypoint LLC

We are all perceivers. Once more, every experience is a perception, and every perception is an experience. Each time we take in information with our five senses, it's both an perception and an experience. Every event and relationship is based on our perception.

We cannot perceive relationship without contrast. Contrast shows us differences, so that we can make relative assessments that lead to our perception of relationship.

But we don't stop there. We are evaluators. We can't stop evaluating.

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Desire Engine Graphic © 2011 Mark Petruzzi/Success Waypoint LLC

In fact, we use our perception to compare our experiences with our previous expectations, or to assess where we can improve beyond where we're currently at, and the result, is "Inspiration."

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Desire Engine Graphic © 2011 Mark Petruzzi/Success Waypoint LLC

"Inspiration" is where the next desire is generated. We perceive an opportunity for enhancement or improvement, and we generate a desire from there. This desire is usually based on what we perceive as an opportunity to feel better. In fact, that emotional energy is at the core of every desire. It is an internal question: how might I feel better? "Inspiration" is the process of forming the answer. It breathes form into the space that a question creates.
Once a new desire forms, the engine springs into action. Desire is the force that drives the cycle. When a desire is based on an internal driver like love or joy, it can literally feel as though the whole being is energized with emotion (symbolized by the spiral moving to the center of the engine below). By contrast, compliance-based desires (based on meeting external approvals or rules) lack the power to truly energize the system, unless sufficient fear of loss supplies the push to compensate for lack the lack of pull that a true affinity would give the engine.

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Desire Engine Graphic © 2011 Mark Petruzzi/Success Waypoint LLC

After we identify a new desire, we usually make a decision regarding what we're going to do about it. This may include modifying it, shelving it for something of higher interest, fully engaging it—or something else. Regardless, we are going to intend and make a choice. We call this stage in the cycle "Intent."

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Desire Engine Graphic © 2011 Mark Petruzzi/Success Waypoint LLC

If our intent is to make our desire happen, we're doing to take some sort of action, wether internal or external, and so the next stage in the cycle is "Create."

The "Create" step includes any thought, choice or action that contributes to fulfilling our desire. Period. This can mean buying something, or making an agreement or building something from scratch. It is any means we use to make our desire a reality.

And at this stage, "Desire" and "Intent" continue to power any creation, whether it is a good business meeting, or an artistic masterpiece, or peace of mind. Things don't always turn out exactly as we intend, but intent is part of turning desire into something real.

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Desire Engine Graphic © 2011 Mark Petruzzi/Success Waypoint LLC

We've come full circle…

The "Evaluate" stage is where we both evaluate what we've created in experience or material, and begin forming our next desire (as we move through inspiration). What did we like about this experience? What didn't we like? What do we want next?

But before we can evaluate, we need to experience, so "Experience"—how things become real to us—is between "Create," and "Evaluate." "Experience" is where we engage our creation.

If we dislike our creation (even if our creation is only an action or an idea), we will most likely find ourselves desiring something new very soon. But even if we appreciate what we have created, it is in our nature to eventually seek more improvement or novelty, and so we'll move again to form a new desire.

Sometimes, we want to keep the status quo a bit while we evaluate further, but eventually, no matter what, a question forms, an emotional charge builds up, inspiration happens, and a new desire is born. We may heed this desire, we may find a reason to dismiss it, or we may wish to suppress it. Regardless of what we decide, as long as we are alive, the Desire Engine cycle begins again.

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Desire Engine Graphic © 2011 Mark Petruzzi/Success Waypoint LLC

But wait, there's more...

What would happen if we introduced careful, conscious choice into the Desire Engine with greater frequency? Sure, some of us do this quite naturally at various times in our lives. Often our more important desires serve to focus us on making deliberate, even heartfelt choices. By far, however, most of us spin through our desire cycles on a kind of auto-pilot, barely-conscious of the true drivers to our choices. Below you'll note some examples of "Power Questions" that we may ask ourselves during key points of the cycle. We can use questions like these to bring more focus to our process.

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Desire Engine Graphic © 2011 Mark Petruzzi/Success Waypoint LLC

So how practical is it to make conscious choice more a part of our daily lives?

While we can't slow our lives to a crawl to get conscious about every choice we make, we can easily see the benefit of working with our knowledge of the Desire Engine in those areas of our lives where we're seeking improvement.
Individuals who work with the Desire Engine for the first time often reveal that they don't often consciously ask questions along the lines of those in the above graphic—even when things aren't going well for them. Once more, they don't ask these important, revealing questions at the critical points in the cycle (as shown). Some explain that, by itself, the realization that this approach is valid and available, brings a sense of hope, and a helpful change in perspective on how they can move through life.

It's true that just thinking about asking certain questions at key points in the cycle can influence us to acknowledge another level of awareness that is often just underneath our automatic routine—giving us a feeling of greater power and choice. Imagine how centered and empowered we could feel with regular practice—especially in the areas of our lives where we're seeking improvement.