Motivation

Motivation is literally the desire to act and move toward a goal. It's the difference between waking up before dawn to pound the pavement and lazing around the house all day. It's the crucial element in setting and attaining one's objectives—and research shows you can influence your own levels of motivation and self-control. Motivation is what drives you towards a goal, gets you up in the morning, and keeps you working through a task, determined to succeed when things get tough. But motivation can be both positive and negative:

  • Positive motivations focus on the positive things that will happen when you take action. For example: ‘Finishing this assignment means I’m only a step away from being qualified.'

  • Negative motivations focus on the negative backlash that will occur if you don’t take action. For example: ‘If I don’t finish this assignment in the next few hours, I’ll fail my course.'

Negative and positive motivations can both be effective in different circumstances. However, it’s much easier to do something because you actually want to, rather than because you want to avoid a particular outcome if you don’t do it. If you don’t have a positive plan of action, using negative motivation can make you feel helpless and may even reduce your motivation.

How to become (and stay) motivated:

  • Set goals. When you set a goal, you make a decision to act in a way that will help you achieve what you want. Goals give you a direction to focus on – one that’s measurable and has an endpoint. This can help you to stay motivated.

  • Choose goals that interest you. You’re much more likely to stay motivated if you’re working towards something that you genuinely want to do or achieve, rather than what other people want for you.

  • Find things that interest you within goals that don’t. Sometimes other people set goals or tasks for us that we don’t find interesting or want to do. So, try and find something within that task that does motivate you. For example: ‘I hate maths, but it’s going to help me become a builder, which I want more than anything.’

  • Make your goal public. If you tell someone – or write down – your goal, you’ve essentially made a promise to keep your word.

  • Plot your progress. When you’re working towards something, it can be really motivating if you can see evidence that you’re making progress. Draw or create a visual representation of how you’re coming closer to achieving the goal you’ve set yourself.

  • Break up your goal. Start with easier tasks and work your way up to bigger challenges. Breaking up a task in your mind into achievable chunks helps build confidence.

  • Use rewards. Promise yourself some sort of reward each time you complete a step/task.

  • Don’t do it alone. Join a class, or find a teacher or someone you can share the experience with. Other people’s encouragement to keep going can be a big boost to your motivation, particularly when you’re doing it tough.

Matthew Clarke