Topic Of The Week: Motivation

Read an interview with any successful person and when asked about how they “find motivation” they are almost always going to answer that motivation is not their driving force. If they waited for motivation to strike nothing would get done. Motivation is not reliable. Consistency, practice, building habits and routine and even sheer willpower are what ultimately lead to goal achievement. While I believe habits over motivation is the way to go, there are some things I have learned about motivation that are handy to have in the arsenal the next time I CBF (can’t be effed) for life.

First, motivation is something understood in popular culture as a driving force that leads to epic achievement. Think of people who are culturally known as motivating, The Rock and Arnold Schwarzenegger (I heart them both) are great examples. These are guys who get things DONE. But motivation is not defined as the desire to achieve epic ish. It is defined simply as, the cause or reason to act. What causes us to act as we do? Hunger is a physiological motivator for seeking food, safety is a motivator for seeking shelter and so on. Of course it is not as simple as all this, there are several types of motivation (physiological, social and personal) and understanding motivation isn’t as easy as X = Y. Regardless, I think for the lay person (c’est moi) taking motivation off the pedestal is very helpful. Instead of waiting for some magical inspiration to spur me into action, I can understand that ‘motivation’ isn’t what I perceive it to be (a magical force possessed by the best of the best) and understand that I have more ‘motivation’ than I think. Everyone eats right? Daz motivation right there. HA HA.

Motivation isn’t necessarily an elusive spark.

Second, scientific studies have shown three factors can impact our levels and feelings of motivation: autonomy, value and competence. Do we feel forced to do something or are we performing a task out of our own free will? This will affect levels of motivation. Do we value the task at hand or do we think it’s a waste of time? And finally, are we actually equipped (or at least feel like we are) to tackle the task in question? Our perception of these three factors can impact our motivation.

Good to know. The next time I don’t want to do something I can quickly assess whether my understanding of any of the above three factors is impacting my behaviour. For instance, if I don’t want to exercise is it because I feel like I HAVE TO? Is it because I am not seeing progress and hence don’t value the activity? Or is it because I don’t think I am competent enough to achieve the exercise planned? Say it is the third factor. Why do I feel this way? I might be super tired and feeling like an intense circuit is beyond me. OK, well can I get through a walk or a 15 minute HIIT session? Yas. Cue an inspiration to act. BOOM. MOTIVATION TWEAKED AND EXERCISE ACHIEVED. Seriously guys read this article by The Scientific American it is very informative.

Third, motivation does not always need to precede an action. Sometimes it is after taking an initial step that the desire/cause continues to develop. Almost every article I have read on this topic (there’s a lot, this one by James Clear is one of the most informative) uses Newton’s First Law Of Motion as an example. An object in motion stays in motion. I don’t know if anyone else does this (probs yes since we are all only unique snowflakes to a degree) but I sometimes psyche myself out of trying something new because I catastrophise a future scenario where I might not want to continue doing said thing but feel forced to. With this knowledge I can chill out, take it one step at a time and know that action inspires action!

So there you have. Three things I learned about motivation that are extremely useful to know. If you are keen to learn more check out the below.

Find out more

+ Motivation: The Scientific Guide On How To Get And Stay Motivated by James Clear via

+ The Two Types of Inspiration by James Clear via

Three Critical Elements Sustain Motivation by Daisy Yuhas via The Scientific American.

+ The Science Behind Motivation by Sujan Patel via Forbes.

+ Types of Motives: Biological, Social and Personal Motives by Aman Sharma via Psychology Discussion.

+ Literature Review on Theories Of Motivation by Brandon Ching PHD via Linked In.

+ Motivation VS Self-Discipline: Which Is The Key To Habit Formation? via Life Optimizer.

+ Is Motivation Useless? via Nerd Fitness.


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