There has been much research relating to motivation. How to be more motivated, why people are not so motivated. What is stopping you from being more motivated?
How motivated you are and whether you are internally (intrinsically) motivated, or externally (extrinsically) motivated can depend on how you were rewarded as children and also the motivation levels of your teachers. A paper here is loaded full of studies looking at internal or external motivation. There is also a recent study which looks at students and their teachers in 2020. This showed that there is a dynamic relationship between how motivated the teachers are and their students. The more motivated the teacher, the more motivated the students!
Incentive theory states that certain behaviour is primarily motivated by external reward afterward (extrinsic). This needs to be investigated along with intrinsically (internally) motivated behaviours which result because of the internal satisfaction which people gain from them.
So which one are you? Do you need external praise, a reward or some candy/ money to carry out a task, or do you simply do it because you feel an internal satisfaction?
More recently there has been much research into Self Determination Theory (SDT). This is the theory of human motivation and personality that looks at a person’s motivation behind choices which they make without external influences. What makes a behaviour satisfying in itself?
Studies have shown that students and children who have been extensively externally rewarded for behaviours, especially when they are already good at them and are already intrinsically motivated, become dependent on this reward. Then their internal motivation becomes less over time. This undermines the autonomy part of SDT which is needed in order to become more self motivated.
A study by Deci stated that if you give unexpected positive feedback during a task that this can increase self motivation. Is this a way in which you can help others?
So if you are a person who needs external motivation and you want to change, how can you do this? Here are some ideas to help you move forward towards being more self motivated.
Small Wins and Self Reward
Giving yourself a small, completely achievable task to carry out and then give yourself an internal reward is a great start. This helps your brain remember what it feels like to do something good. Even if it is something very small, set yourself this goal, remember the outcome and do it. Breaking a larger task into bite sized chunks really helps what can seem like a mountain to climb, turn into a number of small hills. Remember how this feeling feels. Take notice to enjoy what it means to complete a task you set yourself and how proud you feel. This will help you next time you have a task to carry out! Remember you did this yourself! You can be awesome!
Changing Self Talk
I hear many times when I am coaching “I always do this. This is just how I am”. This is an internal narrative you are running yourself. Remember, what you pay attention to in that moment is your reality. If you pay attention to possibility then this becomes your reality. Equally interesting is the saying “practice makes permanent”. If you practice changing an internal story (and this is what you are running internally, it is a story!) then you can change this story. How about instead of saying “I am always like this” change this to “I can be a different way”? When you catch that internal voice telling you, “you can’t” or “this is how it will be”, can you dismiss it? Change it? Can you talk to it and say “No this is now me? Yes, I am going to change this! I am going to move toward the positive outcome I have always dreamed of!”. Practice noticing when your negative story starts running and changing this to move towards what you really want. Remember your positive outcome.
For some people closing your eyes and visualising their outcome positively works really well. If you have a task you want to achieve, close your eyes, see it, feel it, smell it and be within that positive outcome reality. That thing you want to achieve. Notice how good it feels and remember what you can be. Repeating this every day for 10 minutes can help reinforce your motivation to move towards your goal. If you are struggling with your motivation today, close your eyes and think about how you feel when you are in that place when you have achieved that outcome and move towards it. Again practice makes permanent.
All of the practices above will help you move forward towards your goal of being more self motivated. Remember, noticing all of these behaviours and moving towards change is important. Then creating an action plan to take a step towards your positive target, goal and outcome will help. Above all, remember practice makes permanent!
Caroline Langston is the Founder of Successful Consultants Ltd, an Executive, Personal and Career Development Coaching company in Hong Kong and New York. She is also the Founder of recruitersgiveback.org a nonprofit providing free information and coaching to people who are unemployed. Caroline is dedicated to coaching people for success and happiness in their careers and lives. She is degree qualified with a Certificate in Professional Coaching from the ICF, Certificate in Team Coaching from the EMCC. Also further certifications in Neuro Linguistic Programming at Master Practitioner and Coach level. www.successCL.com www.recruitersgiveback.org