Motivation is the desire to pursue a particular course of action. It can be both internal, coming from within the individual, and external, coming from outside the individual, such as from other people or external rewards. Motivation is important because it determines the direction and intensity of our actions, and can have a significant impact on our performance, productivity, and overall well-being.
When we are motivated, we are more likely to put effort into achieving goals, and to persist in the face of challenges and setbacks. When we are not, we may lack the energy and drive to pursue goals and may be more prone to procrastination and lack of productivity.
There are two main types of motivation:
Intrinsic motivation refers to the desire to engage in an activity for its own sake - it is enjoyable or interesting. This type of motivation is driven by factors such as personal curiosity, enjoyment and a sense of personal challenge or accomplishment.
Extrinsic motivation refers to the desire to engage in an activity to obtain a reward or achieve a specific outcome. This type of motivation comes from external factors, such as external rewards, incentives, or social pressure. Extrinsic motivation can be a powerful influence on behaviour.
Of the two, intrinsic motivation is often seen as more sustainable and longer lasting than extrinsic motivation - it is not dependent on external rewards or incentives. Also, these two types of motivation are not mutually exclusive - we may be motivated by a combination of both.
Setting goals is an important part of motivation because it helps people to focus their efforts and energy on specific, achievable targets. When we set goals, we create a clear roadmap which can help us to stay motivated and on track.
There are several key benefits to goal setting in terms of motivation:
Setting goals helps us to clarify what we want to achieve and can help us to prioritize our efforts and resources. This can make it easier to maintain a high level of motivation - because we have a clear sense of what we are working towards.
By setting specific and measurable goals, we can track our progress over time, and see how far we have come. Seeing the results of our efforts will also help motivation.
Providing a sense of accomplishment
Achieving goals can give us a sense of accomplishment and pride – again motivation will be boosted.
As goals are achieved, we become more confident in our abilities – we may be motivated to take on new challenges.
Being SMART with your goals
Goal setting is most effective when the goals we set are specific, manageable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (the "SMART" criteria). Unrealistic or unachievable goals can lead to frustration and disappointment and so will undermine motivation. SMART goal setting increases our chances of success.
Develop a growth mindset
A growth mindset allows individuals to see their abilities and skills as malleable and able to be improved upon, rather than fixed and unchanging. This can lead to a greater sense of personal agency and control, and a belief that effort and hard work can lead to improvement.
Initiating and sustaining effort, without the need for external rewards or incentives, can be very empowering and has several benefits:
Increased autonomy: We take control of our own goals and actions, rather than being reliant on external rewards or incentives, which gives us independence.
Improved performance: Self-motivated people tend to perform better than those who rely on external incentives.
Greater satisfaction: When self-motivated, we are more likely to be engaged, and invested, in our work. This leads to greater satisfaction and enjoyment.
Enhanced resilience: Self-motivated individuals are more likely to put in extra effort and persist in the face of challenges or setbacks.
In conclusion, motivation is a key mental construct that drives and energizes our behaviour and actions. It can have a significant impact on our performance, productivity, and overall well-being. By setting specific, achievable, and meaningful goals, finding a sense of purpose, or meaning in our work, and developing a growth mindset, we can increase our motivation and drive. Although motivation can come from external sources, taking action to improve our internal, self-motivation levels can increase our chances of success and fulfilment.