When it comes to success, there is one key component that may be more important than even such factors as talent, intelligence, money or connections. That elusive piece of the puzzle is motivation. After all, without motivation, nothing can be accomplished. You won’t reach your goals or meet your self-imposed deadlines without the motivation to take action toward them. Unfortunately, that motivation is often what is lacking in the fulfillment of desires. We all have lists of things we hope to accomplish. These lists contain big goals, daily tasks and everything in between. Learning how to increase your motivation will boost the likelihood of checking more items off your list. Let’s take a look at the science of motivation and the ways to harness it to your advantage.
An Improved Approach to Motivation
Author Dan Pink writes in his best-selling book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, that there are three components of motivation that compel individuals to get things done. His premise is that the traditional method of motivating ourselves and others using a carrots and sticks type of reward system is ineffective. Instead, he argues that the scientific approach to understanding the makeup of motivation provides a far better lens from which to view the subject. By understanding the factors that tangibly affect motivation, we can then develop strategies to increase it.
Three Elements of Motivation
The three elements of motivation Pink discusses in his book are autonomy, value and competence. It is these components, according to researchers, that drive people to become motivated.
Autonomy refers to the amount of control or independence one feels over a task or action. It has been shown that when you feel that you have a significant amount of input regarding that task, you are more likely to follow through to completion.
The second component of motivation, value, is the amount of personal significance or importance you place on a matter. In essence, if something matters to you on a personal level, you will feel more motivation to take it on than if you are simply given an assignment to which you feel no connection.
Competence has been found to come from an individual’s feeling of mastery as it relates to practice and hard work, not necessarily to one’s natural abilities. If you spend time developing competence toward a particular goal, it is predicted that you will be more motivated to complete said goal.
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Strategies to Increase Motivation
Now that you have an understanding of what matters most with regard to what motivates us, it’s time to consider some strategies to increase motivation.
One way to motivate yourself using autonomy is to take ownership of a chore or add some aspect of self-direction to it. When I used to host the Friday Frivolity Link Party, I sometimes struggled to create the posts when our host topic was one that did not appeal to me: hairstyles, lip sync, Donald Duck. UGH! But, when I twisted the theme to make it my own it was so much easier: Crazy Hairstyles the Princess Leia Edition, Lip Sync? Lip Dub? Man I am Old, and Ducks I Like Better than Donald Duck.
To add value to your task, you want to make it meaningful or personal. Find a way to add purpose to that item on your to-do list. This involves changing your perspective or the way you look at that item. Who likes doing dishes or cleaning toilets? anyone? anyone? But the value of a clean kitchen or bathroom is not only about appearance but health as well.
Finally, there’s competence. Feeling mastery over an act requires practice. Try to look at the job at hand as one in which you are working toward an end goal of skillfulness. One area of blogging I feel the most incompetent is photography. I know my photos are lacking, especially the food photos. But, every day I take a photo or two and try to improve. I don't always enjoy trying to get creative taking a photo of my morning coffee every day, but it is good practice for me.
Motivation is not always easy to come by. However, with this knowledge of the science behind it, you can now pursue the steps required to achieve your dreams more effectively. Soon you’ll be mastering your goals, which will fuel your motivation toward future endeavors.
Put it into Action
Choose one area of your life that you want to improve. Consider how you can use autonomy, value and competence towards making the changes needed. Feel free to share in the comments below so I can cheer you on.
The Complete Motivation Series
Here are links to the entire motivational series in case you are just joining us.
Shelbee on the Edge says
This is a really great post! Thanks so much for outlining the science behind motivation! I know for me my motivation goes through lots of up and down phases!
Audrey Humaciu says
Thanks, Shelbee. We've all been there. My motivation is great until I sit down at the keyboard sometimes.