We all know how important motivation is to fueling our activity in pursuit of our goals. Putting a finger on this driving force can be confusing though. It’s common to wonder how it might be possible to turn away from distractions, fend off procrastination, and feel propelled through the series of daily tasks with which we can realize our potential. To move forward, it helps to figure out which motivational strategies are worth implementing.
Insight into the nature of the wellspring of motivation is found in a study that was conducted on West Point cadets. Beyond what we can glean from that research, we will look at five specific steps you can take for lasting follow-through to achieve your goals.
Cadet study on the 2 types of motivation
People often think in terms of how much motivation a person has – looking at drive in terms of quantity. However, a West Point study released in 2014 reveals that motivation isn’t about how much of it you have but the type of it that you’re using.
To understand the basis for the study, it helps to know the two types of motivation:
- internal motivation – the desire to meet an objective as its own reward (because you love the work); and
- external motivation – the desire to meet an objective for unrelated reasons (because you want a raise or to impress your friends).
The psychologists who authored the study were curious about what motivational patterns were common to West Point successes (those who graduated and eventually received early military promotions). The only type of drive impacting whether a person would stay motivated to become a military officer was internal. In terms of graduation rate from West Point, it was 20% higher among cadets who were motivated internally.
The takeaway is that it is smart to cultivate internal motivation, to make sure that we are driving ourselves from the inside – rather than relying on outside sources.
4 more motivational strategies to help you achieve your goals
Beyond internalizing our objectives, here are four more proven tactics you can use to stay motivated to achieve goals, both for yourself and your business:
#1. Shift your focus – By looking at a situation from a different perspective, you can find inspiration. Change your focus to reimagine the path to your goals.
#2. Accept distractions – Some amount of distraction is natural and unavoidable. The reason we get distracted is because we feel we are being forced to do something, and procrastination is an expression of our desire for autonomy. Once we accept some degree of distraction and understand why it occurs, we regain our control.
#3. Embrace discomfort. It feels uncomfortable to step forward, especially at new tasks, because we sense all the challenges and extensive effort ahead. Plus, when there is significant thinking to do, we might experience what Karla Cook calls intellectual discomfort. Cook notes that “it is possible to train yourself to become more comfortable with the discomfort of intellectually demanding work.”
#4. Leverage a failure. Like motivation (internal/external), it helps to look at pride as taking two very different forms: hubristic pride and authentic pride. The first type relates to egoism and overconfidence, while the second is based on genuine accomplishment. A University of British Columbia study found that students whose authentic pride is lowered when they get a poor test score are likelier to study harder for the next test.
Are you motivated to utilize your authentic pride to achieve your goals?
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