What’s Your Motivation To Keep Moving?
This is a Guest Post by Gregg Swanson, a mental strength and peak performance expert. You can find more about what he does by visiting his blog warriormindcoach.com/blog
Motivation is essential to achieve any type of success weather it’s in business, health and fitness, relationships or even a simply hobby. Without motivation nothing happens.
“the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action;” and “the reason for the action.”
Normally when we think about motivation we think about being excited about doing something or not. Well, if you’re going to want to reach your goals on a regular basis, you’re going to have to comprehend and use the power of motivation.
Motivation relates to the internal processes that “move, impel, induce, or incite,” people to do the things they do. It is “the call to action” that stimulates us to initiate behaviors in the world around us.
“Needs, drives, and desires” are typically cited as internal motives of our behaviors. “Incentives, rewards and reinforcement” are considered motivations derived from external sources.
One of the earliest theories of motivation was proposed by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. Aristotle suggested that motivation was the result of an “appetitive” function, which always operated relative to some result or end. According to Aristotle, this “end” was provided or created by the thought processes of ongoing perception, memory or imagination.
Modern cognitive theories of motivation also mirror Aristotle’s model, proposing that motivation is primarily resulting from internal maps or “expectations” of the potential consequences of specific actions. So, expectations relating to the projected outcomes of one’s behavior can be seen as a primary source of motivation.
From this view, how people feel, and what they do, depends on the value that they attach, and the causes they attribute to, anticipated consequences. Strong “positive” expectations, for instance, can push people to put out extra effort in hope of reaching some desired outcome. Expected consequences that are perceived as “negative,” on the other hand, will lead to either avoidance or apathy.
Many people experience problems around the process of motivating themselves or others. This is often because, as Aristotle pointed out:
“Appetites run counter to one another, which happens when a principle of reason and desire are contrary and is possible only in beings with a sense of time (for while mind bids us hold back because of what is future, desire is influenced by what is just at hand: a pleasant object which is just at hand presents itself as both pleasant and good, without condition in either case, because want of foresight into what is farther away in.”
The Four Questions of Motivation
An initial question that is applicable for motivation is what can we do to be productive, efficient, effective and happy?
Basically, what can we do be able to reach our goals and feel good about it?
Our lives are filled with a never-ending variety of things to do and experience. To the greater extend we create these choices of experiences. So the question is, how can we, through our motivated behavior, create experiences that are happy, fulfilling, and productive as possible?
There are four aspects associated with motivation: the whether, what, why, and how of motivation.
1. To what degree are you motivated to act, expend effort, or other resources in pursuit of a goal? Decide whether or not you are motivated.
2. What is it you are motivated to pursue? What is your goal or desired outcome?
3. Why are you pursuing this goal?
4. How will you achieve your goal?
Understanding the “Why” and “What” of Motivation
Self-determination theory (“SDT”) is concerned with the motivation behind the choices that people make without any external influence and interference. SDT focuses on the degree to which an individual’s behavior is self-motivated and self-determined.
The SDT approach to motivation, pioneered by psychologists Ed Deci and Rich Ryan, is centrally about the “what” and “why” of motivation, supplying powerful concepts founder standing positive (and not-so-positive) motivation.
Two Types of “Positive” Motivation
The concept of intrinsic motivation is the desire to do something just for the experience itself. Intrinsic motivation is everywhere – it is seen when people are doing a jigsaw puzzle, when they are making love, when they are trying to master the art of flower gardening, and when they are absorbed in a fascinating work project.
Intrinsic motivation is present in babies just learning about the world, and provides the impetus for much of people’s cognitive development thereafter; from the teen years through old age.
When we are intrinsically motivated we are fully engaged, pushing the limits of our current abilities, and often experiencing states of “flow,” or being the “zone” in which we are totally absorbed by optimal challenges (such as learning a new piano piece, mastering a new computer program, or striving for victory in a hard-fought tennis match). Intrinsic motivation is a big part of what makes life worth living!
You can’t lose what you never had — so maybe you didn’t lose your intrinsic motivation because you never had any in the first place!
Maybe nothing could ever induce you to enjoy opera, ballet, or watching foreign films. Even so, might you at least have come to see the topic’s importance, even if you still didn’t enjoy it?
For example, the ballet you originally hated, maybe you began to see the athleticism in it and you started to find how they trained and then incorporated some of their training into your routine.
Maybe you did come to realize that there were aspects of watching ballet that were useful, and found these motivating, even if you never rose to that intrinsic level where the class was inherently fun.
This subtle difference represents a whole different type of motivation.
The Dark Sides of Motivation
To keep a “balance” if there are two “positive” types of motivation there are also two “non positive” types as well.
External motivation is easy to understand: these are the activities you are forced to do, for which you see little value, and are not particularly fun (this should not be confused with external goals which will be disused later). Redundant paperwork, some required trainings at work, attending regular meetings where nothing is ever accomplished – these are just a few of these often aggravating activities that are the products of external motivation.
Introjected motivation is similar, only in this case it is you, yourself, who is doing the requiring, pushing, and guilt-tripping. You can probably call to mind activities that you thought were neither enjoyable nor very valuable, and yet felt you “ought” to do them, or “should” do them.
Chances are you dragged yourself off to complete them just the same as if there had been a supervisor, military sergeant, or concerned mother looking over your shoulder.
Both of these types of motivation involve some sense of unwillingness, of being controlled by forces one does not fully own and endorse. Introjected motivation is not as problematic as external motivation, because at least we have begun to internalize the motivation into our sense of self.
In Part 2 we’ll look at motivation continuum and how meaning can help and hurt your motivation.