Motivation is the process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. It’s what makes you act, whether it’s drinking a glass of water to reduce thirst or reading a book to gain knowledge.
Motivation involves the biological, emotional, social, and cognitive forces that activate behavior. In everyday use, the term “motivation” is frequently used to describe why a person does something. It is the driving force behind human actions.
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Motivation does not refer only to the factors that trigger behaviors; it also involves the factors that direct and keep these actions goal-directed (although such motives are rarely directly observable). As a result, we often have to infer the reasons why people do the things they do based on observable behaviors.
What exactly is behind the motivations we act for? Psychologists have proposed different theories of motivation, including impulse theory, instinct theory, and humanistic theory (such as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs). The reality is that there are many different forces that guide and direct our motivations.
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Hosted by editor-in-chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Psyathome Mind Podcast shares an exercise you can use to help you perform at your best. Click below to listen now.Follow now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts / RSS Motivation Types
Different types of motivation are often described as extrinsic or intrinsic:Extrinsic motivations are those that arise from outside the individual and usually involve rewards such as trophies, money, social recognition or praise.Intrinsic motivations are those that arise from within the individual, such as doing a complicated crossword puzzle simply for the personal gratification of solving a problem.
Is motivation extrinsic or intrinsic? Uses of motivation
There are many different uses for motivation. It serves as a guiding force for all human behavior, but understanding how it works and the factors that can affect it can be important in a number of ways.
Understanding motivation can:Help improve people’s efficiency as they work toward goals.Helping people take actionEncourage people to engage in health-oriented behaviors.Help people avoid unhealthy or maladaptive behaviors, such as risk-taking and addiction.Help people feel more in control of their lives.Improve overall well-being and happiness.Impact of motivation
Anyone who has ever had a goal (like wanting to lose 20 pounds or run a marathon) will probably realize right away that simply having the desire to accomplish something isn’t enough. Reaching that goal requires the ability to persist through obstacles and resilience to move forward despite difficulties.
There are three main components of motivation: activation, persistence, and intensity.Activation involves the decision to initiate a behavior, such as enrolling in a psychology class.Persistence is the continuous effort towards a goal even though obstacles may exist. An example of persistence would be taking more psychology courses to earn a degree, although it requires a significant investment of time, energy, and resources.Intensity can be seen in the concentration and vigor involved in pursuing a goal. For example, one student may pass without much effort, while another student will study regularly, participate in debates, and take advantage of research opportunities outside of class. The first student lacks intensity, while the second pursues his educational goals with greater intensity.
The degree of each of these components of motivation can affect whether or not you achieve your goal. A strong activation, for example, means you’re more likely to start pursuing a goal. Persistence and intensity will determine whether you keep working toward that goal and how much effort you put into achieving it. Tips for finding motivation
All people experience fluctuations in their motivation and willpower. Sometimes you may feel excited and highly motivated to achieve your goals, while other times you may feel apathetic or insecure about what you want or how to achieve it.
Even if you’re feeling unmotivated, there are steps you can take that will help you move forward. Some things you can do include:Adjust your goals to focus on the things that really matter to youIf you’re tackling something that’s too big or too overwhelming, break it down into smaller steps and try to focus on achieving that first step toward progress.Improve your confidenceRemember what you achieved in the past and what your strengths areIf there are things you feel insecure about, try to improve in those areas so that you feel more skilled and capable.Potential dangers of motivation
There are a few things you should keep an eye on that could hurt your motivation. These include:Quick fixes or all-or-nothing thinking. It’s easy to feel unmotivated if you can’t fix something right away or if you can’t have it all at once. Remember that reaching your goals takes time.Thinking that one size works for everyone. Just because an approach or method has worked for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you. If something doesn’t help you reach your goals or makes you feel unmotivated, look for things that work best for you.
Talk to your doctor if you feel symptoms of apathy and low mood that last longer than two weeks. Sometimes a persistent lack of motivation can be linked to a mental health condition like depression. History of Motivation
What are the things that really motivate us to act? Throughout history, psychologists have proposed different theories to explain what motivates human behavior. The following are some of the main theories of motivation.
Instinct motivation theory suggests that behaviors are motivated by instincts, which are fixed, innate patterns of behavior. Psychologists such as William James, Sigmund Freud, and William McDougal have proposed a number of basic human impulses that motivate behavior. Such instincts can include biological instincts that are important for an organism’s survival, such as fear, cleansing, and love. Drives and needs
Many of their behaviors, such as eating, drinking, and sleeping, are motivated by biology. You have a biological need for food, water, and sleep. Therefore, you are motivated to eat, drink and sleep. Impulse theory suggests that people have basic biological impulses and that behaviors are motivated by the need to satisfy these impulses. Excitation levels
The motivation theory of arousal suggests that people are motivated to engage in behaviors that help them maintain their optimal level of arousal. A person with low arousal needs might engage in relaxing activities, such as reading a book, while those with high arousal needs might be motivated to engage in exciting and thrill-seeking behaviors, such as motorcycle racing. A word from Psyathome
Understanding motivation is important in many areas of life, from parenting to the workplace. You may want to set the best goals and establish the right reward systems to motivate others, as well as to increase your own motivation.
Knowledge of motivating factors and their manipulation is used in marketing and other aspects of industrial psychology. It’s an area where there are a lot of myths and everyone can benefit from knowing what works and what doesn’t.