Becoming and Staying Motivated

I was motivated to climb these temple stairs and I did it!
I was motivated to climb these temple stairs and I did it!

This week I had to find the motivation to do research on motivation. What worked to keep me going was that I wanted to provide useful information to my group members. During the process, I realized that there are a plenitude of factors that keep people working towards their goals and it doesn’t always have to be the desire to actually reach the goal.

Of course, it is beneficial if there is genuine want to accomplish the goal, but sometimes the momentum is kept up because someone does not want to look bad, or they don’t want to inconvenience other people who may be relying on them, or they are driven by monetary rewards along the way, etc. If someone knows what drives them, they can use that knowledge to set up the steps to reach a goal. People don’t have to base the goals on genuine interests. An example of this could be a young adult that is working to become a doctor because their parents want them to. The young adult wants to make their parents happy so they work very hard studying and dedicating their time to get a Ph.d.  I suppose the unspoken goal for the young adult is to make their parents happy, and the goal for the parents is to have their child be a doctor.

It does help dramatically if someone has a vested interest either in the end goal or in the baby steps that keep them going. If someone has a set a goal to lose weight, but only because they feel societal pressure to look a certain way, they may be less likely to be motivated. But if they were instead driven by wanting to be more comfortable, have less health issues, or feel more confident about their looks, keeping committed to the work it takes to lose weight will be more meaningful and the person would hold on tight to that feeling of accomplishment.

Another lesson I learned was how important it is for someone to acknowledge when they are making progress. Those moments of pride help build confidence and give fuel to the fire that the goal can be reached. Making note of accomplishments also helps to keep people appreciative and living in the moment.

The most amazing part to me is how the brain fights and aides making goals. Because the brain is constantly looking for threats, sometimes new situations can be seen with fear because they are unknown and the outcome is unknown. Many people’s brains will become defensive when change is coming, thus making the motivation more about staying the same than to make change. But on the flip side when people acknowledge their hard work and are proud of themselves the brain releases dopamine, creating a feeling of pleasure in the brain, increasing the likelihood of someone staying the course.

The view from the top of the stairs.
The view from the top of the stairs.

In the end I was motivated by the response my worksheet had on the group, as well as by the additional information I learned along the way. I completed the goal of creating the handout and then created a goal to write a post about the process. Look at me go with all this motivation!

 

What do you find works to keep you motivated and progressing?

Resources

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dont-delay/200902/self-regulation-failure-part-1-goal-setting-and-monitoring

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201104/why-goal-setting-doesnt-work

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200307/the-goals-guide-us

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