Becoming (and Staying) Motivated - Part 2
Why Motivation is Necessary
I noticed a certain trend in myself years ago--that I would put off reading my textbooks for as long as possible. I caught myself making excuses during the week, such as “I only have 10 minutes left in my lunch break--it would hardly be worth it to read my textbook for such a short time. I’ll read it tonight.” When I realized my error, I developed a new rule. I began to ask myself, “What is one thing I can do now, with the time that I have?” In order to stay motivated, I decided to use those little pockets of time to my advantage.
When was the last time you struggled to find motivation? Experiencing low motivation is a feeling that everyone can relate to some degree. However, motivation is necessary in order to achieve goals and experience personal growth. Motivation helps us to meet our goals. In some circumstances, it encourages us to continue on as we are. At other times, we may be motivated by negative outcomes (perhaps poor grades) to turn around behaviors and focus on improvement. Once you learn how you are personally motivated, you’ll find that you feel more productive.. Maintaining this motivation also helps to avoid procrastination and reduces stress.
Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation
There are two kinds of motivation we often refer to: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation describes feeling inspired by the good feelings felt within. It is personally rewarding. You are able to enjoy not only the end result but the process of getting there as well. The reason for this is because you are doing something that is of value to you. You feel a sense of purpose.
Alternately, extrinsic motivation has its root in outside rewards, with receiving something good (recognition, praise, an award, prize) or avoiding something you don’t like (embarrassment, guilt, punishment.) When we experience extrinsic motivation, we often focus on the end result and tend to not enjoy the journey of getting there.
It is possible to experience both types of motivation at the same time. Each form of motivation has its benefits. Intrinsic motivation is highlighted as being the ideal goal--doing what we do because we find enjoyment in it. However, extrinsic rewards are sometimes necessary. For example, adults must work in order to provide for themselves and any family members. Most do not have the luxury of doing whatever they want, whenever they want to. However, it is becoming more important for individuals to obtain positions within companies that they share core values. Doing so satisfies intrinsic motivations while also fulfilling their extrinsic motivation. This is often the case with healthcare workers, teachers, and advisors who have a passion to help/serve/assist the community (an internal motivation) while also relying on/depending on...a paycheck (an extrinsic motivation.)
Tips on Being Self-Motivated
First, in order to have a need to be motivated, you must have something you’d like to achieve. What will be required of you to fulfill that task or goal? Is it necessary to break it down into smaller steps to make it more reasonable? Ask yourself why this certain task or goal is important to you. Why is it worth your time, energy, and resources? Make the conscious decision to get started, and have a clear path in mind to reach your destination. As you go along, recognize your achievements and strengths. Even when there is room for improvement, it is key to allow ourselves to feel pride in our accomplishments in order to continue feeling motivated, especially during extreme challenges.
Finding What Motivates You
Everyone is unique in the way they are motivated. Have you ever thought about what motivates you? I never put a lot of thought into this until about a year ago. I finally challenged myself to ponder what the motivator is behind my choices and behaviors. Here are some potential ideas were taken from Selena Rezvani, a leadership expert and author, that may help you realize what drives you. Remember, multiple descriptions can apply to you (Rezvani, 2020).
Use These Ideas To Customize Motivation To Your Needs:
Collaborators are driven by relationships and through connecting with others.
If this sounds like you: How can you get and stay motivated by connecting with others? Perhaps forming a support group or an accountability partner would suit you well.
Directors are most successful when competing & facing intense challenges.
If this sounds like you: How can you use competition and challenge to up your game? You could try visualizing your goal, framing it as a daunting task or game, or use it to appeal to your sense of competition.
Stabilizers look for steadiness. They enjoy gaining a deeper knowledge & becoming an expert on their issues.
If this sounds like you: How can you use your desire for stability and expertise to motivate you? Consider creating a plan of action, reading self-help books, or taking a class from an expert.
Innovators enjoy pondering multiple possibilities & then following through. They are inventive & creative.
If this sounds like you: How can you keep your tasks new and exciting? You may try putting a creative spin on things or prioritize keeping a good variety in your tasks.
Whichever description(s) reflect your motivation, use those strengths to your benefit. If you are feeling overwhelmed, pause, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, “What is one thing that I could start right now?” While we can’t realistically expect ourselves to accomplish everything in one day, we can find something that we can do now, and commit to doing it. Those who accomplish their goals begin first by making the decision to get started. When we ask ourselves, “What can I do right now?” we avoid falling into the procrastination pit, which also helps to lessen stress. Just like the textbook rule I mentioned earlier, simple techniques can help to stay motivated. Focus on something you can do now.
Understanding a Lack of Motivation
A lack of motivation can stem from exhaustion or feeling overwhelmed. It is important to take care of ourselves and our own needs in order to have the capacity to put forth our best efforts in other areas of our lives. Do not attempt to run on empty, but keep that tank filled (even half a tank is a start). Another aspect of keeping our tanks full is creating clear boundaries to prevent excessive stress. A boundary I have set for myself is to take at least one day off a week from homework. During this time off, I concentrate on hobbies, re-establish friendships, and let go of stress. I always give myself at least one day off a week but schedule more time to decompress when needed. This helps me to refocus when the “brain break” is done. It enables me to continue to do my genuine best and submit quality work.
It can also help us to stay motivated when we have set realistic goals. If our goals are not specific enough, or if we are not aware of what our goals truly are, we may also experience a lack of motivation because we lack direction. Taking a step back and planning how to reach those goals can trigger motivation to return.
Reframing our Mindset
Personally, I realized a connection between feeling especially demotivated and specific tasks that I did not enjoy performing. Recognizing the activities that I was motivated to perform helped me to understand why I was not motivated to do others. I enjoyed doing activities I was confident in and knew I was good at because I received positive affirmations, either from myself or from others. Conversely, I did not enjoy the activities that I doubted myself in or did not feel like I was successful in.
This was the case with math for several years. Math has never been one of my strengths. I struggled with it in high school and during my first semester of college. During that time, I thought of math as the cause for late nights, excessive stress, and a ton of frustration targeted toward me. Then I met a friend who loved math. My friend helped me to look past my negative attitude towards math. This new mindset allowed me to notice patterns and connections within math that I hadn’t seen previously. She helped me to reframe the way I thought about math. I was able to effectively change my perspective surrounding math, and in the process, I was also able to focus on the intrinsic rewards rather than just the extrinsic rewards. I acknowledged my areas of improvement and knew I was capable of succeeding in math. While math is not my favorite subject, I don’t harbor negative feelings or resent it like I used to.
Years ago, I was merely interested in receiving a “good enough” grade on my assignments and exams (extrinsic reward). Now I place a greater emphasis on the sense of accomplishment I feel (intrinsic reward) when I complete a difficult assignment, am able to effectively teach someone else the concepts or when I experience a lightbulb moment. I am able to find the intrinsic value by refocusing the way I think about challenging subjects. This process of reframing has been empowering as I have been able to apply it to other challenges I’ve faced since then.
Success is in Your Future
While everyone can relate to the difficulty in becoming or staying motivated, you’ll be much more successful once you learn what motivates you personally. If you notice certain tasks that you struggle to find the motivation to perform, try reframing the activity in a way that you’ll find some level of enjoyment or fulfillment while accomplishing it. Take just a few moments to consider what motivates you and categorize those motivators as being extrinsic or intrinsic. To better focus on intrinsic rewards, recall experiences when you have felt that intrinsic motivation. Remember that feeling often! Then, move forward in ways to seek more of those good fuzzy feelings. Keep in mind, each form of motivation is necessary and beneficial.
As you maintain high levels of motivation you will reach your goals and welcome opportunities for personal growth. Likewise, the amount of stress you feel and any temptation to procrastinate will decrease. Lastly, remember that it is crucial to take care of your own well-being in order to put forth your best effort in your various responsibilities as a student. Take time out for yourself to relax, recharge and recognize your successes. You got this!
As coaches, we are here for YOU. We’d love to hear what you’ve learned along your journey. We are also more than happy to help you find or recapture motivation. You can reach out to us through email at email@example.com or learn more about who we are, what we do, and why we do it on our webpage here. We can’t wait to hear from you!
Rezvani, S. (2020, May 20). Mastering Self-Motivation. LinkedIn Learning. linkedin.com/learning/mastering-self-motivation/self-motivation-your-driving-force?u=2289946
About The Author
Rachel is a senior pursuing her degree in communication here at Weber State University.
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