The sun is shining, and I’m sitting in the garden next to a filled padding pool waiting for the girls to wake up (Charlie is always an early riser so beat me to it this morning!). It’s so warm already and we have no plans today, so we can relax in the garden or do something spontaneous- I love these days! I’m sitting here thinking of what I would like to achieve this year. I think the sun has given me the boost to think I can achieve anything. It’s funny how something as simple and natural as the sun can motivate me. In the winter, I often can’t even motivate myself for a night out. It’s got me thinking about what else motivates us.
I never realised there were so many different types of motivation! I suppose as we are all different, it makes sense that different things motivate us.
We all need motivation to do anything in life, but especially to achieve our dreams.
Without it, we won’t keep going when things get tough or when the novelty wears off a new idea or challenge, in fact without it most of us won’t even start in the first place! Start what? The first step is to decide what we want to achieve and then what type of motivation is going to help us get there.
Away from the mundane essential every day tasks, it’s good to challenge ourselves every now and then and motivate ourselves to try something different. If it’s a new hobby we’ve been talking about starting, a new skill that we’ve always wanted to learn, or perhaps a change of lifestyle- diet or exercise routine, we all need a certain degree of motivation to spur us on. As I type, it’s got me thinking what I would like to achieve and I feel excited!
How can we get there?
What motivates me may be different to what motivates you. What is your motivation style?
There are two main types of motivation as well as minor forms of motivation that fit into one of the two main categories. Throughout life we use a pick and mix of different types of motivation depending on what we are trying to achieve and what we think will work best for us.
This is the desire to do something from within. Right now, I am blogging my thoughts because I have a desire inside to write. My last blog was months ago and I’ve been promising myself some ‘me’ time to write. Sometimes I write because I feel I need to offload my thoughts and feelings. It clears my head and helps me to feel calm. Since my desire comes from within, my motivation is intrinsic.
This is when the motivation comes from external desires. In April, I took on a challenge to run 100km in 30 days to raise money for The Cystic Fibrosis Trust. My cousin’s 10 year old little boy has the condition and despite not enjoying running, I completed the challenge because I wanted to raise as much money for the charity as possible, to help him and others like him. This is called Reward-Based Motivation or Incentive Motivation as I was motivated by the amount of money (reward) I would raise in completing the challenge.
I remember another time when our children were very young and I had to use this type of motivation when I was studying for my degree with the Open University. Trying to juggle a young family with studying often meant that I had to work into the early hours to get assignments done.
With matchsticks for eyes, the only thing that kept me going was thinking of the rewards at the end of it. For me, this was my degree certificate and the fact that it would provide me with an opportunity to work in a school with term time hours that would fit around my family. An incentive I often thought of when I wanted to put off writing my next assignment!
I was also keen to set myself a personal goal- I have never been to university and I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone to see if I could do it. I knew that if I could, I would feel proud of myself once I had achieved it. This is called Achievement-Based Motivation because it focusses on the sense of accomplishment that you know you will feel after a goal has been achieved.
I once briefly started learning the piano because I liked the idea of starting a new hobby and learning a new skill. This is called Competence Motivation because the motivation came from a desire to be more competent and improve a skill. I went to a few lessons because competence motivation helped me get there. I had a fantastical vision of being able to sit down in front of a piano and play sophisticated songs fluently with ease. In reality, it proved to be a much slower, more difficult process than I had envisaged and it became clear I was a lot less ‘competent’ than I had dreamt I would be! My vision of being competent at playing the piano was so far from reality that my competence motivation disintegrated. This is because the improvement was so small that I could not see it and so I felt that my goal was not achievable. On reflection, I think I was looking to see more improvement than was realistic and I think this is why I gave up! I suppose this is why lots of people- children and adults- give up on things they aren’t very good at. They are motivated by competence, but when they realise they aren’t as competent as they thought they would be, they give up!
To make sure I didn’t give up on my running challenge I decided to post my runs on social media. This was for three reasons. Firstly to prove I was actually doing it (I didn’t want anyone thinking I was a fraud!). Secondly to spread the word I was doing the challenge- the more people that know about it, the more people will sponsor me right? Lastly, but not least, I thought that if people knew I was doing the challenge then they would ask me about it- how I was getting on, how much money had been raised so far etc and in doing so, I knew this would give me a certain amount of pressure. Pressure to complete the challenge and not give up. Pressure to not embarrass myself and fail after I had publicly announced I was doing it. Pressure to make the people I care about proud of me. Pressure that supplied me with motivation due to an adequate dollop of fear of failing. This is called Fear-Based Motivation. We often associate fear as being a bad thing but fear of failing and disappointing others can actually help motivate us to achieve our goals.
Power-Based Motivation is when people are motivated by being more powerful, usually by their position in work. This type of motivation is good for people who want to change the world around them. It can be the motivation used when employees apply for promotion, although it could also be Reward-Based Motivation if their main incentive is the pay rise! Some people thrive when they associate with people in higher power positions than themselves and when this occurs it is called Affiliation Motivation.
Attitude- Your attitude determines your direction. I’m a great believer of having a positive mental attitude and a good internal dialogue. If I tell myself ‘I can’t do that’ I just know I won’t be able to. My view is that subconsciously we want to be right, so by not succeeding, we have fulfilled our statement ‘I can’t do that’. I also think this is why, when we don’t succeed, we say ‘I told you I couldn’t do it!’.
I’ve decided that my next challenge is going to involve dancing, I’m not exactly sure what yet but I’ll be doing it for charity and I plan on roping my friend Vanessa in too! I’ll be using Reward-Based Motivation since I’ll be raising money for charity but also because I’ll be having fun and making memories which is the most rewarding of all.
What will you decide to do? I would love to hear your exciting challenges! Whatever your goal is, good luck and keep going!
Top tip! Work hard, dream big and never give up!
A journey of 1000 miles starts with one step!
No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up and never give up!