The Reality of Motivation
Motivation comes in many forms and what motivates one individual is not necessarily the same for their team members. Therefore, it is important to understand how motivation differs among individuals and how these differences affect the overall drive and determination of a team toward a goal.
To better understand the complexities of motivation researchers over the years have developed a number of theories to try to explain why people behave in the ways that they do and to try to predict what people actually will do, based on these theories. These theories, called motivational theories are often split into two categories –content theories and process theories.
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
People will continue to make mistakes; that’s human nature (and it’s often a byproduct of trying hard things). Reacting with either heavy-handedness or permissive indifference does not help. Setting the environment for growth and trying to understand the situation from the other person’s point of view is the best course of action.
People have often portrayed the needs for autonomy and relatedness as being implicitly contradictory. You have to give up your autonomy, they say, to be related to others. But that is simply a misportrayal of the human being. Part of the confusion stems from equating autonomy and independence, which are in fact very different concepts.
How to Avoid Motivational Burnout
In activities motivated by external influences, both the nature of the motivation and the resultant performance vary greatly. The motivation of a medical student who does his homework for fear of punishment is very different from motivation to learn prompted by a sincere desire to provide patients with optimal care. Part of staying motivated is being realistic about what you can achieve within the time-frame you’ve planned.
When we work from the desire to make things better for others, obstacles seem to vanish and unpleasant tasks become more pleasant. Sharing our strengths in the spirit of contribution takes the “ego” out of the equation and becomes our unique way to contribute to the betterment of the whole. We focus only on what we want to give — it becomes a freeing and joyful experience.
Self-compassion is defined as one’s ability to offer compassion to oneself through inadequacy or hardship. And when it comes to achieving success, a certain level of self-compassion is required. In fact, in one study, researchers manipulated participants’ level of self-compassion by having them write about a personal shortcoming and dividing them into two groups.
Is There a Lack of Motivation in Your Life?
The self-compassion group wrote from a place of compassion and understanding while the latter was asked to validate their positive qualities. Following the exercise, they were then asked to rate the degree to which they thought their weakness was permanent. The self-compassion group saw weakness as more changeable than the self-esteem group. The takeaway: People who are self-compassionate are better able to see shortcomings as a challenge that can be overcome.
Mix things up. A rut will kill motivation. So mix things up. Make a competition out of a task with yourself or with someone else. When you work out vary what you do instead of going through the motions. Listen to music and podcasts that you usually don’t listen to. New input and variation tends to be a good way to keep the motivation up (or to recharge it).
Different types of goals may require different types of motivation. For example, a team might be motivated to work hard on a project for an extra couple of weeks if they are rewarded with a three or four-day weekend once it is completed; or maybe if the company has no work-related accidents for the year everyone receives an extra percentage bonus during the holiday season.
The motivational beliefs that determine expectancy of success (goals, self-concept and task difficulty) and task value (affective memories) are in turn shaped by life events, social influences (parents, teacher or peer pressure, professional values, etc.) and the environment. These shaping forces are interpreted through the learner’s personal perspectives and perceptions (i.e. cognitive processes). It is perception, and not necessarily reality, that governs motivational beliefs.
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