How To Set Goals

Several psychological theories exist, such as rational motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, push and pull, self-control, drives, need theories, incentive theory, escape-seeking dichotomy, cognitive dissonance theory, drive-reduction theory, self-determination theory, temporal theory, achievement theory, and other cognitive theories like goal-setting theory, basic desires theory, attribution theory, and approach versus avoidance theory. Some of the major theories are analyzed here.

The tripartite theory of soul expounded by Plato, the Greek philosopher of yore, is contained in his treatise, ‘The Republic’. The theory of Plato is based on psyche, in which he divides the human soul into three parts, namely, the logical, the spirited, and the appetitive. He believes that these three parts correspond to the three different classes that could exist in a just society.

Extrinsic motivation allows people to perform activities with the explicit aim of attaining a specific outcome. The most common extrinsic motivating factors are either rewards for achieving something or threat of punishment for failure. Competition is a powerful extrinsic motivator, where an individual beats others and proves superiority, even though there might be no intrinsic motivator to win.

Push and pull motivations also work on several occasions. A typical example is the tourism industry, where push motives are purely internal, such as rest and recuperation, relaxation, or even escapism. On the other hand, the pull motivations are climate of a tourist destination, such as a summer place in winter or a cooler place in summer. Cultural images, landscapes, scenic beauties, and other attractions also act as pull motivators.

Drive is a very powerful motivation for most of our actions, since drive stems from desire to fulfill a need or compensate a deficiency. This drive activates behavior in humans to achieve goals as mere incentives. The drive is usually a part of intrinsic motivator, without the requirement of any external stimuli to encourage specific behavior in an individual.

Most of our motivations are basically from such internal drives, such as eating food to survive, the secretion of certain hormones that induce sexual desire, etc. However, the drive or the motivation could arise from external stimuli, such as the desire to gain power and position to prove one’s superiority or amass money with a desire to earn more respect in the society.

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