We all have made ”to do” lists, set goals, have dreams, or have motives for the things we want to see happen. How come some accomplish more? What makes them tick? There are theories out there for why some make a plan to lose 20 lbs and do it and why others set a goal to reach a position at work and never quite get there. So what’s the secret?
Well, the first part of motivation is understanding ourselves. If you understand your achievement motives or why you want something, then you can recognize obstacles and distractions that may hinder your plan. Figure out why you’re going after something. This can make the picture more clear and easier to attain. You might be able to think of someone who is like this, or you may be able to relate yourself.
What goes into being motivated? First, you have people that hope for success. They might anticipate pride afterwards or really feel they need a sense of achievement. For example, you want to try out for a team to be involved, have a sense of accomplishment that you made it, and feel part of a group.
Next, you have the fear of failure. These people want to avoid failure. They’re anticipating shame or humiliation for failing. So this same person may not try out or go for the next level simply because he is afraid of what he’ll feel like if he doesn’t make it.
To really understand each motive, look at what is more important: the outcome or the process? and what do you value? You are evaluating yourself and your worth. With these ideas in mind, you should be able to ask yourself: “Last time I achieved…. it was because I wanted to outperform others or win.” or “It was because I didn’t want to lose or be outperformed by anyone else.” or “It was to better myself and my performance.” or “I train so I don’t get worse.” Obviously plugging in your own example makes it relevant to you, and anything can fill in the blanks. So I exercise because… I compete in triathlons because…. I don’t workout because… I enter so many races a year because…. I haven’t applied for a new job because…. I run because…
Take some time to sit down and make a list of what you’re motivated to do and not do. There will be a “I’m proud” list and a “I can throw this away” list. That’s okay, putting it down on paper really makes you aware of why you’re making the decisions you make on a daily basis. If it doesn’t bother you, then it must not have value. If you value an area then you can find a way to be motivated to do something about it. However, the first step is being aware of what makes you motivated.
We want to move along the continuum. So paying attention to why we’re not doing something (amotivated) to ultimately doing it for ourselves (intrinsically motivated). Are you just satisfying others? That won’t last. You have to have competence and autonomy to be motivated for the right reasons. For example, you want to lose weight for a wedding to look good in pictures, but then you find it really hard to stick to the plan so far out. Then you decide this time you want to lose weight to be healthier and please people around you, again it’s tough to maintain once the goal is met possibly. You attempt to lose weight again, but this time you are doing it to make you happy and change your quality of life.
You’ve probably heard you can’t make someone change who doesn’t want to, well motivation is very similar. If you want to meet goals, YOU have to want them. We have a human tendency to reach our development. We want more. We crave autonomy, peace within, and self actualization. This is often never reached when we try to live up to what others want for us.
Take a look at your goals. How do they change throughout the game of life or even throughout an actual game. Notice how they change and what you want to get out of the big picture. Keep in mind motives and goals are different. Goals are dynamic and constantly need to be updated and changed. Motives can change over time, but require a longer time frame. Figure out what you want, make that list, select a goal to promote, develop steps to achieve it, and make it happen.