If you’re reading this then motivation may be a challenge for you. Perhaps you feel you have no drive, perhaps you struggle to get excited about what you do each day, or perhaps you just want to unlock the mystery of your own motivation levels. Well taking an interest is the first step. Do the words “if then” mean anything to you? Do you know how it relates to your motivation?
“If then” is a motivational tool. The tool tells us that “if” you do something, “then” something will happen as a result. Such as, if you clean the dishes, then you can watch TV before bed. It’s a very simple concept and it can certainly be used to motivate in some situations. However, the problem is that “if then” has somehow become the major motivating strategy in society.
Unfortunately, “if-then” rewards and punishments only create motivation for very short periods of time and it also tends to create several negative consequences. Why? Well, if you are used to being rewarded or punished then what happens when no one rewards you or punishes you? Nothing happens does it! That’s the point. You don’t learn how to be self-motivated, you simply rely on someone giving you a reward for a job well done or punishing you for messing things up.
“If-then” rewards also encourage unethical behaviour (like achieving the desired objectives using questionable actions such as stealing or cheating), create addictions (like believing that if I do something I should be rewarded at all times otherwise I’m not going to do it) and foster short term thinking (like I’m just aiming for this goal alone and not worrying about any other consequences of achieving this target).
Motivation is not about manipulating behavior. Motivation is something that comes from within and dictates your entire way of being. If you feel compelled to act and then you do act – you are motivated. If you think you “should” act, you are not motivated. Something is missing.
Behavioural scientists Harry Harlow and Edward Deci identified the true formula for motivation. They found that the motivation formula is = Autonomy + Mastery + Purpose.
Their research identified that the secret to high levels of performance is actually our deep seated desire to direct our own lives and be in charge of what we do with our time and how we do it (our desire for autonomy), to extend and expand our capabilities and the urge we have to get better and better at something that really matters to (our desire for mastery), and the longing to do things in the service of something larger than ourselves (our desire for purpose).
If you honestly and objectively look at the three elements that create motivation and assess how closely they align with your life, it may become quite clear why you don’t feel motivated. If you aren’t in control, if you’re not taking charge, if you’re spending your time doing things that don’t inspire you, if you’re not learning and expanding your capabilities and improving yourself each day – you simply won’t feel motivated. It’s not possible. It breaks every rule of motivation. So honestly assess where your life is and you will find your answer. Good luck!
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