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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Use the Theories of Motivation to Keep Yourself Uplifted

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How to Use the Theories of Motivation to Keep Yourself Uplifted

Have you ever wondered why you are motivated in some instances and not in others? More importantly, have you considered what effect this has on your life in general? The theories of motivation can help explain all of this.

Research has revealed numerous theories of motivation and motivating factors. They all have their merits and can work especially well as a mix. But what is motivation really, and what effect does this have on the reality we create for ourselves?

What Is Motivation?

Motivation

generally includes an experience of desire or aversion. This means we either desire something we want, or we have the desire to avoid something. This motivates people in certain directions.

This explains why we might find it easy to take action on some things and procrastinate on others. As you likely know, procrastination can really cause us to get in our own way.

Take a look at this TED Talk, where Dan Pink explains how motivation affects us all.

The good news is that with more knowledge, we can gain insights on what motivates us personally. It’s just a matter of understanding the theories that relate to us and then consciously utilizing them.

3 Theories of Motivation

Here are three of the most useful theories of motivation to help you stay motivated with anything you set your mind to.

1. Locke’s Goal Setting Theory

In 1968 Edward E. Locke published his groundbreaking Goal Setting Theory.

It has been some 50 years since the first goal-setting experiments were conducted and 28 years since the first statement of the theory.

Certainly, in my own personal experience and working with clients, goal setting has been a powerful motivator. When we have a goal that we desire, it motivates us to move towards it. This makes us more focused and less inclined to procrastinate.

Here’s the thing though: goal-setting only works effectively when certain criteria are met, so it’s essential to know what those criteria are.

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Here are the important elements of Locke’s theory[1]:

Goals Must Be Challenging and Attainable

If a goal is too easy or perceived as too difficult, we will lack motivation. This means goals must be both realistic and stretch us a little.

Goals Must Be Specific and Measurable

This gives us a much clearer direction and helps us measure progress as we reach milestones.

Commitment to the Goal

A firm decision must be made to commit to the goal. If there is no commitment, it will be easy to avoid putting in the effort.

Strategies

His suggested strategies to achieve this could include participation in the goal-setting process, the use of extrinsic rewards (bonuses), and encouraging intrinsic motivation through providing feedback about goal attainment.

Support Elements

Support elements need to be provided. For example, encouragement, needed materials and resources, and moral support can be included.

Quantifiability

Goals need to be quantifiable, and there needs to be feedback.

These criteria are mainly designed for the workplace and are effective as a member of a team. But what about working alone?

Using Locke’s Theory When You Work Alone

The SMART model contains important criteria, which relate to Locke’s theory. This model will help you write a good goal statement.

SMART is an acronym and means making goals specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timed-bound.

Commitment can also be a challenge when working on goals alone. Because of this, it’s important to find some way to hold yourself accountable when using the theories of motivation.

A good way to do this is to confide your goal in a trusted friend and ask for accountability. If you are feeling very brave, you could even announce it on social media or to coworkers in your work environment.

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If you have a high need for achievement, setting up your own reward system can act as an external motivator. However, a reward you will receive in 12 months time may not be enough to drive you.

A reward system works best when your goals are broken down into shorter-term goals and you need extrinsic motivation. Giving yourself a reward at each milestone will give you a sense of achievement earlier, and this creates more desire.

If you need help coming up with some useful rewards and punishments to achieve your goals, this article may be able to help.

Essential Resources

One of the elements of a well-formed goal is that you must have the required resources or a way of obtaining them. If you set a goal without these essential elements, you can often find motivation is lacking.

Resources can include physical materials, information, and people.

If you have confided your goal with a trusted friend, also ask that friend for support and encouragement. Identify where you may need training, and seek out a course or the support of a mentor or coach. Do your own research to make sure these vital resources are available to you before setting your goal.

Feedback is another essential element that could be a problem when working alone because feedback is often received from others.

If our results disappoint us, then we receive essential feedback that we need to change something.

Regular reflection is an effective way to receive feedback and look at what needs to change. When this process is utilized in a positive way, it has the potential to positively impact the first of these three theories of motivation.

2. McClelland’s Achievement and Required Needs Theory

David McClelland wrote about his theory of motivation in his book The Achieving Society in 1961. It explains why certain individuals are more motivated to achieve than others.

This theory is based on two psychological principles: the motive of an individual to achieve success, and the motive of an individual to avoid failure[2].

Some people have an intense desire to succeed and are more motivated to move towards what they want. This means they will take action, even if they are attempting something challenging.

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Others are afraid of failure and so are more motivated to move away from what they don’t want. This means they will procrastinate on doing challenging things where there is a risk of failure. They are less inclined to set goals for the same reason.

How to Change Your Perception of Pain

When you know that you avoid pain, it gives you the power to work with it by using the theories of motivation. You can do this quite simply by turning your perception of pain around.

If you are resisting a step that will help you achieve something, explore why you are procrastinating. Ask yourself what you are afraid of.

Place yourself in the future and imagine what will happen if you don’t take the step. Notice how it will impact your goal negatively. Imagine how you will feel when you don’t achieve it and notice how painful that will be.

Now create pleasure around the thing you have been avoiding. Imagine how much closer that will bring you to achieving your goal, and notice how you will feel as you celebrate the achievement.

This change tool has been extremely effective with a number of my clients. As you use it, you will notice your procrastination morphing into motivation.

3. Hull’s Drive Reduction Theory

This theory was first proposed by American Psychologist Clark Hull in 1943. It centers round the premise that humans are motivated to take action where there are disturbances to homeostasis[3].

Homeostasis means to maintain stability and stay the same, referring to our overall health. This is a natural tendency, but we can use the theories of motivation to overcome the resistance it generates.

Many things in our external environment can affect our overall health. This includes our ability to put food on our table, a roof over our head, and money that enables us to provide those things. If our stability is threatened in any way, we are more inclined to take action.

This also means that if we feel our stability is threatened by taking action, we will do nothing.

I see this theory play out a lot with business owners. They avoid things they feel uncomfortable doing, like networking or follow-up calls — at least until their income levels drop. When this happens, they find the motivation they had been lacking and pull out all stops.

This motivational theory also resonates with the physiological level of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs[4].

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Hierarchy of Needs is related to theories of motivation

    Here’s the thing: if we are motivated by this need alone, then we tend to do nothing new, and when faced with a situation that is uncertain, we can freeze.

    Therefore, it’s important to find the motivation to move past this base need, even in the space of uncertainty and challenge.

    Components to Handle Uncertainty

    Dr. John Demartini, an international educator in human behavior specializing in the area of values, says that motivation is not external. True motivation is inspiration and found when we experience our values[5].

    This means that if we set goals that are aligned with our values and focus on that, we can feel internally motivated. As we feel this, we are more inclined to take action on those goals, even when faced with something challenging.

    If you’re not sure what your values are, you can learn how to identify them here.

    Values are unconscious beliefs, which means many of us aren’t aware of what they are. When you bring your values into conscious awareness, it gives you the ability to use them as motivational tools.

    When you set goals around your values, you will notice your motivation levels become much more consistent.

    The Bottom Line

    There are a multitude of different theories of motivation. Understanding what your motivators are is helpful, but the real power comes from working with them.

    Finding strategies to work with and implementing them can morph procrastination into motivation or even help you avoid procrastination for good. This will create a positive impact on your life in general.

    More Tips on Using the Theories of Motivation

    Featured photo credit: Christopher Campbell via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Deb Johnstone

    Deb is a professional mindset speaker and a transformational life, business and career coach. Specialising in NLP and dynamic mindset.

    How to Survive a Quarter Life Crisis (The Complete Guide) 14 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Advancement 7 Essential Success Tips to Achieve What You Want in Life Signs You Need an Attitude Adjustment (And How to Do It) How to Write a Good SMART Goal Statement for Success

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    Last Updated on December 14, 2021

    15 Simple Ways To Get Confidence Back

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    15 Simple Ways To Get Confidence Back

    Confidence is essential to survival. If you’re a man, you can’t even attract a mate without it, as women (and even gay men) are attracted to tenacity. There are times, however, when a devastating or unexpected loss can sap you of your poise. If you’re down, here’s how to get confidence back into your system so you’re ready to take on the world again.

    1. Find Your Comfort Zone

    Everyone has a comfort zone, whether it’s food, music, art, a favorite book, movie, TV show, a specific geographic location or group of people. Whatever it is that makes you feel comfortable, get into that zone. You’re not there to hide from your problems or dwell on them. You’re there to recharge; just like your muscles and mind need time to recharge, so does your mood. Take a staycation in your comfort zone to regain your composure.

    2. Change Your Thoughts

    Actively make a conscious decision to change your thought processes. Every time you doubt yourself, counter those thoughts with ways you can overcome. Remember most of your problems are in your head. That’s not to say they don’t exist – merely that you’re allowing them to affect you. Stand up to and for yourself, and you’ll learn ways to stand up to and for everyone else.

    3. Smile Like You Mean It

    A smile goes a long way. Even if you’re not fully sure of yourself, you’ll exude a sureness that encourages people to perceive you as a confident person. You’ll be seen as a leader rather than a follower, and things will be more likely to go your way. The media portrays Special Forces soldiers as killing machines, but one of their most used weapons is a friendly smile. Diplomacy is strong, so put a smile on your face, and make the world a better place.

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    4. Don’t Slouch!

    Your posture and the way you carry yourself goes a long way in determining your appearance. If you’re slouched over, people assume you’re weaker. This is how nature works – every plant and animal species on this planet understands survival of the fittest, and you need to look like you’re fit. Make an effort to sit up and stand up straight and tall.

    5. Take Baby Steps

    Everything happens in steps. Don’t get discouraged if there’s no magical change that suddenly makes you confident. Focus on your path, and understand it’ll take baby steps to get where you want. You’ll soon be taking baby steps from confidence to full-on success in life.

    6. Clean Yourself Up

    Cleanliness is close to godliness (or so I’ve heard). Hygiene is vital to your confidence – it’s hard to feel good about yourself when you’re stained, sweaty and smelly. No matter what your circumstances in life are, do your best to stay clean, as it’s the key to your confidence.

    7. Face Your Fears

    Everyone has a list of fears and phobias, although many don’t want to admit it. I’m afraid of snakes, spiders, heights, loss of control, drowning, the dark, other people, and just about everything under the sun. I’m even afraid of the sun since I have moles and have a high melanoma risk. These are natural fears that everyone has on some level or another – it’s a fear of death and the unknown. Face at least one of your fears. When you survive, you’ll be that much more confident.

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    8. Define Yourself

    You are your present choices. Your past decisions and future aspirations determine how your present choices are perceived, but you are your present choices. Learn how to define yourself. Set your rules and boundaries and follow them. These are your morals and ethics, and they’re the foundation of who you are. Never forget that.

    9. Embrace Mistakes

    Looking back (even while it was happening), we judge Michael Jordan on his successes. People quote him as the greatest basketball player of all time and use his wins, championships and statistics to back it up. Jordan himself, though, reached that level by focusing on his failures. What drove Michael Jordan wasn’t the high from making a game-winning shot, it was the low of missing one.

    10. Live In The Present

    Learn to appreciate everything around you. By practicing gratitude, you’ll change your perspective. Instead of being upset about losing an important client or failing a test, you’ll be grateful for the air you breathe, the water you drink, the food you eat, and the people you love. Focus on the now, because it’s all you truly have.

    11. Take Inventory

    If you’re reading this, you also have a lot of secondary stuff, such as a computer, the Internet, the knowledge to use it, the ability to read. You have a lot of skills and resources available to you, even if they’re not the ones you wish they were. Figure out what you have, and find ways to use them.

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    12. Socialize

    Talk things out with friends and family – they’re normally happy to help you regain confidence. If they (or lack thereof) are the reason you lack confidence, expand your social circle. Go to public places and interact with strangers. If you fail to make an impression or completely blow it, who cares? They weren’t in your life before, and you won’t miss them.

    13. Play A Game

    Video games are great for a lot of reasons, and gaining confidence is just one of them. In real life you may be a boring file clerk with a dead-end life, but in a video game, you can be whoever you want. Every video game console (as well as the majority of computer and mobile games) has achievements. Hunt down some easy wins to jumpstart your spunk.

    14. Do Something Crazy

    I’m a firm believer in spontaneity being the spice of life. Go out and do something you said you never would. When I reached a point in my life where it felt like nothing could go right, I jumped out of an airplane. As I fell through the air, I had several epiphanies that forever changed my life. No other decision in my life had more of a direct impact on my life than that one crazy act.

    15. Try Again

    If your lack of confidence is caused by failure, pick up and try again in any way possible. It doesn’t have to be immediately – you can practice, learn and evolve prior to trying again. This time, however, go in as an experienced veteran who took a few licks and got back up stronger, faster and smarter than before.

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    It’s easy to lose your confidence. Unexpected things happen, and you can very easily find yourself on the short end of the stick. Even though it seems like you’re the only one it’s happening to, we all experience inequalities and failures. Stick it out, and you’ll eventually get the confidence it takes to succeed.

    Featured photo credit: Thomas Mowe via unsplash.com

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