The difficulty with motivation, especially intrinsic, is that it often resembles more of a rollercoaster ride than anything remotely constant. We all have times we can remember being incredibly excited about that project, assignment, or responsibility. Unfortunately we also remember those times (we often cannot seem to break free from) when we become overwhelmed, distracted, or lazy. Therein lies the issue for everyone. How do we motivate ourselves on a more continuous basis that leads to improved performance at either school or work?
Self-motivation boils down to three major factors: starting, attitude, and self-awareness.
No one has ever finished who did not start. All too often we attempt to begin new endeavors with the idea that there will be huge gains immediately. Think about it. How else would the magic diet pill, bodybuilding supplement, online essay, or any other quick fix industry even exist? The fact of the matter is that those who start any task with the manageable aspects enjoy small (usually easy to attain) victories. This in turn boosts self-confidence while increasing the drive (or motivation) to continue. There may be many factors that motivate us to start, but it is the lasting mark of that which is generated within ourselves that get us to finish.
AttitudeNegative obstacles are one of the major reasons continued self-motivation is so difficult. How we handle them is the difference between success and failure. If we motivate ourselves to accomplish something, we must prepare for the many obstacles that will block the path. Personally, I call these distractions and excuses. The good news is that they can all be overcome. First, do not make excuses. Find out the real reason you experienced a setback, confront it by admitting the problem, and fix it. Then start again. Do this by prioritizing. All too often we get distracted from what we really want to accomplish and take an easier path. With the right attitude (positive and determined) a person can ignore the distractions by focusing on what is important and understanding that long term success does not come easy. Rather, it is the dogged determination of individuals who pull the advantages (positive) out of disadvantages (negative) that arise.
We need to know who we are, what we want, and why to increase the consistency of our motivation. We will lose sight of what keeps us going without these understandings. Intrinsic motivation by definition comes from within. Therefore, it is what is important to us that causes us to move in any direction. Being mentally and emotionally invested in our goals provides powerful motivation. Essentially, no one can force us to believe what is important. We must come to that realization ourselves. In the end it is about what is a priority for us. This is not easy and the road to sustained motivation is fraught with negatives. Only through an understanding of ourselves and what motivates us will we achieved sustained self-motivation and success.
Where do we start?
“If you have the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed.” - David Viscott
· Do not just identify, but begin by identifying with others who do what you want to do.
· Complete as many homework assignments as possible each week.
· Stay after for extra help one night this week.
· Improve your study habits before your next test.
How to we sustain setbacks?
“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of Hell, a hell of Heaven.” - John Milton
· Be and stay positive.
· Do not make excuses. Address the real issue.
· Be sure to know what is important and make choices accordingly.
· Avoid distractions by staying focused.
Why are we doing this?
“One of the most courageous things you can do is identify yourself, know who you are, what you believe in and where you want to go.” - Sheila Murray Bethel
· Know who you are and what you want.
· Set goals you are invested in and work to achieve them.
· Work to understand why you need to be self-motivated.
In the end, our success or failure largely depends on what we do for ourselves. To succeed, we must be motivated and the most powerful form of that is intrinsic. We are all students of life and just as those of us in education attempt to motivate students, we must identify and use that inner drive to truly be successful; no matter the field in which we work, play, or live. In the words of Henry David Thoreau; “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”