What exactly is motivation? Not all people define motivation the exact same way. Some people describe motivation as a mental force that drives a person to accomplish an end such as finishing a project or task. Some people say that motivation is why some individuals do one thing and others do something different all together. Motivation has also defined in terms of feelings/emotions that push a person beyond what they think they are capable of to achieve a given objective.
In the realms of psychology, motivation is closely connected to our behaviour (s) in terms of the initiation as well as direction, intensity and persistence of something that ‘invades’ our psyche. Motivation, however, is not the same as emotion or personality. Motivation is, I believe, a temporal and dynamic state of mind. One can literally ‘switch on’ the personal motivation button, and then switch it off just as quickly!
A person who ‘feels that way’ can be motivated to accomplish a long-term goal or a short-term goal and both have value. Sometimes a motivated individual will break a long-term goal down into a series of smaller short-term goals in order to make the end result easier to reach for and attain. Motivation to stay on course if the path is broken down is, for some, much easier to achieve. An example would be the interview that Sir Bradley Wiggins gave prior to his world record one hour cycling attempt. In this interview, he was very clear that in order to achieve the long term goal and remain motivated throughout the hour, he needed to break the time down into 12 minute slots (small step goals). For him, the important part of the record was to focus on a 12 minute effort – having passed that, his mind would then look to the next 12 minutes. In that way he knew he would not be mentally overwhelmed by the 60 minutes that he had to cycle in order to achieve for the overall task.
The motivation to work towards any given goal can change and often circumstances make it necessary for a person to modify their level of motivation. An individual's personality on the other hand is basically a permanent part of the characteristics of the person that does not change.
Aspects of a person's personality include such things as whether the person is extroverted or introverted, modest, conscientious, shy, loud and so on can affect their motivation.
Emotions are temporary states that a person finds themselves in in order to cope with immediate circumstances, such as feeling sad, happy, frustrated, confused, anger and being in a state of grief. Emotion does not automatically correlate with behaviour whereas motivation does.
Motivation is often broken down into two categories, that of intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation.
When the desire to do something comes from within a person and there is no obvious external incentive for it to take place, intrinsic motivation occurs. Engaging in a hobby for pure enjoyment such as painting, making toy models, stamp collecting, scrap bookings etc. are all examples of intrinsic motivation.
Extrinsic motivation on the other hand is when there is an external factor present that serves as an incentive for behaviour. This is commonly viewed in workplaces where their superiors motivate employees by being offered tangible rewards such as extra money or a promotion.
In the next article on Motivation, we shall look at Team Motivation and how to get out of a rut.