Posts Tagged ‘Motivatation’
I’m going to stick with the theme of motivation for another article; simply because it’s been on my mind lately as I continue to spend the time developing new products and services. This isn’t easy for me to do; I struggle with motivation at times just like the rest of us.
To make things as easy on myself as possible I’ve been going back through the materials I’ve collected over the years; to refresh my memory about what motivation is, and how to grab onto it, if only for a short while. Here’s a piece of research I came across that serves as a good reminder about the importance of clarifying why we’re doing what we’re doing, and what we want to get out of life:
Years ago Edward Deci conducted an experiment in his search for discovering why people do what they do. He asked each of the participants in his study to complete a puzzle: half were given a dollar for working on the puzzle, and the other half were offered nothing. At the end of the time allotted, Deci left the room and instructed the participants that they could continue working on the puzzle if they wished (or read a magazine, or do nothing). The participants who received no reward continue do work, while the ones given money ceased to work on the puzzle.
The point of this outcome is that our interest in a task fades when we’re being governed by external forces; even if it’s something we’d enjoy doing otherwise.
I often talk about building in reward structures if you need that extra boost to finish a task (i.e., work for two hours then treat yourself to a latte). This is still a good strategy, but just make sure the latte isn’t the primary reward: the research results above show us that external rewards don’t maintain behavior.
Let the latte be the driver of your behavior if that’s what it takes; but when you’ve reached the goal always go back to the reasons you engaged in the task in the first place. Focus not the immediate reasons: “because I’ll miss the deadline if it doesn’t get done”, etc., but on the big reasons: “because this task leads to this, which leads to this, which leads to the realization of my ultimate goals and purpose”.
So enjoy the latte that helped drive you to the goal. But do so with the conscious acknowledgment that you wholly deserve it. Acknowledge your ability to set and achieve goals, and how hard you’re working to realize your dreams and become more of who you want to be!
Getting Motivated is a tricky thing. Sometimes we experience it, often times we don’t. And when we do get it, it doesn’t seem to stick around for very long.
I talk with my clients about ways to increase motivation, such as making the task worthwhile and keeping your eye on the prize, only committing to bite-sized chunks and building in rewards and consequences, and staying healthy and taking regular breaks. There are many more strategies; some more effective than others.
(There are also a couple of newer books out there on the topic of motivation; which are apparently quite good. I look forward to reading them to see if there’s anything missing in my understanding of the subject).
But more importantly, I think, is something that struck me recently: I think we often use the elusiveness of motivation as an excuse to not get things done.
The funny thing about motivation is that we tend to see it as this “thing” that we can get – and that as soon as we acquire it things will be smooth-sailing. And as long as we don’t “have it”, we’re not really pressured to accomplish: we can easily blame our inaction on the fact that we just haven’t tapped into it yet.
But the truth is that it’s not impossible to act if we’re not feeling motivated. We get caught up in the idea that we can’t move forward unless we’re “feeling it” – but this just simply isn’t true. It might not feel great to take action without possessing this magical thing called motivation – but we’re all capable of doing it anyway.
A saying I quite like is “action precedes motivation”. In other words, like so many other things in life, when you stop looking it will appear. We just need to get started. So put it to the test – or as Nike would say, “Just do it”. Just do it regardless of how you feel, and stop reaching for the magic formula – you’ll be glad you did!
Thomas Edison once said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up”.
Think about the meaning of that statement for a moment. Really.
Imagine pouring hours upon hours of effort and hope into something important to you – then giving it all up when you hit that certain level of discouragement.
Imagine what sort of stories of denial and rationalization you might create in order to explain the whole effort away to yourself and others: to minimize its weight in order to save you from embarrassment. Or of the dreadful feelings of precious time wasted. Or of the realization that you were wrong – that you were not as competent as you had hoped. Or of the feelings of frustration, depression, and loss…
Or maybe you’ve already done this. The truth is that people do it all the time.
But what if we were destined to reach our goal the very next day after we decided to quit? It’s impossible to ever know, of course, but it is a very real possibility.
We all know the story of Thomas Edison’s failures, perseverance, and ultimate successes – but, unfortunately, stories like these often tend to inspire us for the moment but have no real lasting impact (or worse yet, we become desensitized to them so that they carry no real impact for us at all anymore).
So, again, think seriously about this quote for a moment. What could it mean for your life and your journey? What do you really want? When have you quit and (falsely) rationalized the whole effort away? Where do sometimes feel like just throwing in the towel? Or where do you keep justifying your decision to not get started on that one special thing?
The good news is that we can avoid the pain of failure by never ceasing to try.
And even if we were to die trying, then at least we’d have died on a path to success. And isn’t that better than looking back at the end of it all and saying, “what if”?