It’s cold here. The wind sends chills right through my bones. Normally, I enjoy walking, I try to walk to places whenever I can, but on a day like this, I would not venture outside but for my two dogs that need to be walked. The dogs don’t care about the weather, they want their walks, so it must be done. This brings me to a question I have for you today: What would it take for you to move a task from the “may-be” category to the “must-be-done” category? If the syllabus says you have to read Chapter 8 by tomorrow, does it make it a must? What about a gut feeling that you may be called on in class? Or do you have enough self-discipline so that if you decide that something is important, you will do it no matter what?
When I walk the dogs on a nice day, I am motivated by pleasure. I truly enjoy the process: I like the outdoors, my eyes appreciate the beauty and variety in nature, I have time to think without interruptions. This is an example of intrinsic motivation. On the other hand, when it is too cold to enjoy the outdoors, my motivation becomes extrinsic, and it’s not as much fun anymore. Understanding the interaction between your extrinsic and intrinsic motivation is important if you want to develop good habits and achieve results. Intrinsic motivation is usually more powerful because it is driven by your goals, desires, personality. Here are a few steps that can help you create intrinsic motivation:
- Set goals and rewards that are meaningful to you.
- Understand how a particular task contributes to a valuable outcome.
- Engage your imagination and emotions when you think about what you want to accomplish. Re-create the image of success in your mind every time you need extra motivation to do a task.
- Approach each task with curiosity and the beginner’s mind. Look for new things to learn even when you engage in a familiar activity.
- Try changing a perspective if you feel bored. Ask the question: “What would _______ think or do about it?” Insert a person, organization, profession in the blank.
- If you have a role model, ask yourself how your role model would approach the situation you are in. Get into their mind.
- Embrace the uncertainty. Do you ever wonder how people can spend hours pulling a lever of a slot machine? It is the uncertainty of the outcome that keeps them interested. The uncertainty increases the production of the neuromodulator dopamine, which is responsible for a focused attention and more pleasurable experience. Imagine what would happen if you were to get a regular salary for pulling the same lever but no chance of a random win. You’d be bored to death very soon. Uncertainty keeps the excitement alive.
To find out more about different types of motivation, check out What’s the Motivation by Daily PlanIt.
And I am off walking the dogs.
What is your motivation direction?