What exactly is this ephemeral, intangible concept or construct we call "motivation"? We cannot "touch" it, or easily "measure" it in the standard sense of physical or psychological measurement. I don't even think we can "judge" it based on actions we see (or don't see). I think only the person with the motivation can "measure" it, or know how and how much they are motivated. But we can identify it and nourish it (or poison it). It exists in a person’s "mind" and "heart" (wherever those are!).
(Teachers often talk about students being "motivated" or not, but I disagree that we can always actually see that. We can see behaviors that we label as motivation or lack thereof. But I think we use the terms "motivated" or "unmotivated" more often to describe the degree to which a student is doing what we want them to, which is not their motivation but their cooperation with someone else’s agenda... and that is governed by a lot of factors that may or may not be related to a person’s motivation.)
Maslow (Toward a Psychology of Being, 1968, pp. 21-43) differentiates between “deficiency motivation” and “growth motivation.” The former concerns a reestablishment of homeostasis, or balance in an organism when basic needs (hunger, thirst, sex…) are satisfied). The latter concerns not satiation or relief of a need but the ecstasy one experiences when one experiences growth or forward movement (e.g., creative process). In both cases tension is a positive force for action, albeit with different ends. In the former case, the action leads to disappearing the tension, at least for a time until it builds up again (e.g., hunger disappears when we eat). In the latter, the “end” is the continuance of the action, maintenance of the tension. The former has to do with end points, the latter with the journey.
Learning is, I believe, in the latter category… more about means (the journey) than ends (e.g., test scores). So what happens when there are roadblocks in the journey?
If motivation is ephemeral and hard to define, roadblocks are real (physical or psychic) “things”... it is life happening to our desires and plans. It is a “test” of our motivation to do something and it matters a lot if we say we “would like to…,” “want to….,” or are “committed to” something. The more we are committed to (think/do/feel) something, the higher the probability that we will overcome, circumvent, and/or ignore any roadblock that appears.
Of course “roadblocks” are not always personal. They can also come from outside the person in the form of a lack of “resources” or “affordances.” Personal roadblocks are within the power of a committed person to overcome/circumvent/ignore. “Lack of resources/affordances” may not be. Lack can be due to physical scarcity, or to the workings of hegemony and power structures in communities (e.g., as regularly happens in classrooms). A person may be 100% committed to a goal and committed to doing whatever it takes to overcome roadblocks. However, there may be lack of resources/affordances such that any amount of effort will not budge. If I am thirsty and there is no water for 50 miles, no amount of creativity will allow me to slake that thirst. (Although there are often unlimited possibilities for being subversive (in a positive sense) and circumventing the block.) The challenge is to identify which is which and what I can/want to do about it.