Motivation is the desire to do things.
It's been given the credit for making or breaking success. We used to think it struck like lightning when we had epic ideas or wanted to achieve something cool.
We blame motivation for our lack of doing, as if Motivation is a person who was legally bound to do our bidding for us. As if we are not responsible, but Motivation is. Without motivation, we seem to plod along, without desire to change our bad habits or unhealthy lifestyle. And without motivation we manifest the same cycles of living as we currently experience because the desire to do is non-existent...
But what is motivation really? How do we make it? Where does it come from? Is it external or is it always within us?
How do we harness it?
There is more to it than whether you have it or not.. there is more to motivation because it is always created internally and it is therefore always a choice.
So lets go into how Motivation works and try to make the lightning strike a little more often, hey... But before we go much further, here's a task for you.
Write down at least 1 thing you want to achieve over the next 3, 6 and 12 month periods - think performance, health, personal life, work life. If you struggle with this, attach those dates to special occasions or work events to place some reality around them, ie Christmas, a family reunion, your best friend’s birthday, a wedding or work trip.
Types of Motivation:
Extrinsic Motivation & Intrinsic Motivation
Extrinsic motivation is where something external sparks the desire to do. What does that look like in real life, when something outside sparks your drive to do? There are 3 areas:
- Truly valuing the activity and doing it but not doing out of enjoyment;
- Engaging in a behaviour to uphold expectations or avoid guilt; or
- Engaging in a behaviour because it means avoiding punishment or gaining a reward.
Intrinsic motivation involves "engaging in opportunities because they are seen as enjoyable, valuable or relevant to meeting one's core needs" (Augustyniak et al, 2016). In recent research, intrinsic motivation has been highly correlated to high levels of effort and task performance. And importantly, higher intrinsic motivation is linked with higher persistence (Augustyniak et al, 2016; Sturges et al, 2016).
Therefore intrinsic motivation is the more powerful tool, and responsible for longer lasting persistence and results, as opposed to extrinsic or reward based motivation.
In my research, there was also two different classifications that may help you understand motivation a little differently...
- Push motivation drives you away from pain. The idea of maintaining where you are or what you're experiencing drives you away from your current state. It can be a strong motivator, moving away from a state of health or feeling you dislike. But once the pain is gone, the motivation is also gone...
- Pull motivation requires you to tap into something you want to achieve. The achievement 'pulls' you towards it, and in coming closer to that activity or meaningful pursuit action is inspired. Pull motivation drivers can be long-term with intermittent benchmarks, that fulfill our need for constant reinforcement!
Whichever of the four resonates with you and your aforementioned goals - extrinsic, intrinsic, push or pull - there is no denying that pull and intrinsic motivation are the most powerful and change-inducing forms of motivation. It can be hard to tap into the emotive power of a pull motivation driver, so we've compiled a sequence of questions that can help you harness a strong motivator to bring you closer to your goal. Without a goal that resonates with things you like, enjoy or spark your interest, the feeling of motivation is short-lived. The then overarching feeling of failure or disappointment of underachieving can be a detriment to future endeavours - memories and emotions are strongly attached, don't let that attach to the word or exercise of a 'goal'!
So how do we harness this emotive power and attach it to our goal?
STEP 1: was your goals at the start of this blog, that one is complete.
STEP 2: Now, go back and number each goal in each segment in order of importance. For example, out of your 3 Month Goals, consistency with diet and less processed food may be #1, with #2 being to move your body in some way daily, and #3 to lose 4kg.
STEP 3: This requires you to delve into your experiences and imagination. What happens if you don’t achieve these? Does it matter in the long term? If you continue with the habits you currently have and don’t make these changes, will you achieve your 12 Month Goals?
What will you health, appearance or performance be like without making these changes?
And can you afford to take the risk of not changing these habits right now?
Write this down next to each goal in a different colour pen…
STEP 4: We know that intrinsic motivation sparks via interests and curiosity. If that's the case, what elements of what you enjoy can you include in the plan to reach these goals?
For some it might be walking daily, or listening to an audio book as you go because you love learning. Others it might involve lifting weights often, doing sprint training, or doing your training outside on a regular basis to boost your enjoyment factor. This is where things become personalised because not everyone likes the same things, nor are they motivated by the same things.
From here, the rest is up to you..
Formulate a plan to get to that goal based on your likes, dislikes, goal and internal drivers. If you're a visual person, get some colour pencils and a big blank page. If you're a logical person, mindmap that shit! This is about you and creating something for you to spark the reward centres of your brain. And if that's daunting, contact someone you trust and know will support you - I cannot tell you how many times I've pulled out some butchers paper and several pens and say with a client as they drew a windy map of enjoyable elements of their life and connected it all together...