The Science of Motivation

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When it comes to success, one key component may be more critical than even such factors as talent, intelligence, money, or connections. That elusive piece of the puzzle is motivation. After all, without cause, nothing can be accomplished. You won’t reach your goals or meet your self-imposed deadlines without a reason to take action toward them. Unfortunately, that motivation is often what is lacking in the fulfillment of desires. We all have lists of things we hope to accomplish. These lists contain big goals, daily tasks, and everything in between. Increasing your motivation will boost the likelihood of checking more items off your list. Let’s look at the science of motivation and how to harness it to your advantage.

An Improved Approach to Motivation

Author Dan Pink writes in his best-selling book, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” that the three components of motivation compel individuals to get things done. His premise is that the traditional method of motivating ourselves and others using a carrots and sticks reward system is ineffective. Instead, he argues that the scientific approach to understanding the makeup of motivation provides a far better lens from which to view the subject. By understanding the factors that tangibly affect motivation, we can develop strategies to increase it.

Three Elements of Motivation

Pink discusses three motivational elements in his book: autonomy, value and competence. It is these components, according to researchers, that drive people to become motivated. Autonomy refers to the control or independence one feels over a task or action. It has been shown that when you think you have a significant amount of input regarding that task, you are more likely to follow through to completion. The second component of motivation, value, is the amount of personal significance or importance you place on a matter. If something matters to you personally, you will feel more motivated to take it on than if you are given an assignment to which you feel no connection. Competence has been found to come from an individual’s feeling of mastery as it relates to practice and hard work, not necessarily to one’s natural abilities. If you spend time developing competence toward a particular goal, it is predicted that you will be more motivated to complete said goal.

Strategies to Increase Motivation

Now that you understand what matters most about what motivates us, it’s time to consider some strategies to increase motivation. Using the concept of autonomy as a guide, let’s consider ways to add a sense of control or involvement to activities that need to be completed. One way to do this is to take ownership of a chore or add some self-direction

If you are having difficulty starting a project, such as submitting a paper for review, it may help to think of all the ways doing so will set you apart as an expert in your field. In doing so, you’ll see that turning in the paper is necessary for sharing your unique views with your colleagues. To add value to your task, you want to make it meaningful or personal.

Find a way to add purpose to that item on your to-do list. It involves changing your perspective or the way you look at that item. Completing your taxes is a dreaded chore for most of us, but you can add purpose to it by focusing on the work you’ve done that comprises the numbers on the page or the contribution you’ve made to your job and community through your efforts.

Paying taxes is a symbol of good citizenry. Finally, there’s competence. Feeling mastery over an act requires practice. Try to look at the job as one in which you are working toward an end goal of skillfulness. For instance, you’ll soon see the treadmill as less of an adversary the more workout sessions you endure. So, along with the ultimate goal of getting fit, you’ll quickly know each session becomes more accessible, leading to a feeling of accomplishment.

Motivation is not always easy to come by. However, with this knowledge of the science behind it, you can pursue the steps required to achieve your dreams more effectively. Soon you’ll be mastering your goals, fueling your motivation toward future endeavors.

We have a three-day holiday starting tomorrow, so I will post quotes or quick tips. Enjoy the time with your family and friends. Remember to stay safe and keep the faith.

2 thoughts on “The Science of Motivation

  1. There will always be times when your motivation is ebbing away. These are the times when persistence is what you need.
    The stubbornness that says, “I will put my running shoes on an go for a 5 minute run”, or “I’ll just get this blog post started and finish it tomorrow”. Whatever it takes to start moving in the right direction. It’s amazing how often starting out will get you completing the task instead of copping out like you wanted to do when the motivation slipped.

    • Persistence and determination work for me. It’s what keeps me posting every day even when I have trouble thinking of what to write or I am extremely tired.
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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