Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on September 3, 2020

How to Use the Theories of Motivation to Keep Yourself Uplifted

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.

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

Advertising

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.

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.

Advertising

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.

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.

Advertising

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].

Advertising

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 Use the Theories of Motivation to Keep Yourself Uplifted How to Learn Patience to Get Your Thoughts and Feelings Under Control 9 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Advancement 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Like Your Life Is Over How to Write a Good SMART Goal Statement

    Trending in Mental Strength

    1 How to Deal With Negative Thoughts (the Healthy Way) 2 What Am I Doing With My Life? Find Your Answer Here 3 How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late 4 How to Cope With Empty Nest Syndrome and Be Happy Again 5 Fail Forward: How Setbacks Can Fuel Future Success

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on October 29, 2020

    How to Deal With Negative Thoughts (the Healthy Way)

    How to Deal With Negative Thoughts (the Healthy Way)

    When I think back to all the unhappy and frustrating times in my life, I realize now that I prolonged these experiences because I spent too much time in my head. I was either worrying about the future or thinking about past mistakes, missed opportunities, and all the other events in my life where I felt dissatisfied and frustrated. I didn’t even realize how much impact negative thoughts had on my life,

    Then, one day I read an article that said that we have between 40,000-80,000 thoughts every day. I realized then that the thousands of negative thoughts I was having on a daily basis were preventing me from not only enjoying life experiences, but draining my energy and distracting me from focusing on what was important in my life.

    In this article, you will understand why you have negative thoughts and how to deal with them.

    What Causes Negative Thoughts?

    The first thing to do is to find the why — what triggers set off your negative thinking? If you can find the answer as to why you are constantly having so many negative thoughts, then you will be one step closer to better managing the impact that negative thinking is having on your life.

    Mental Health Conditions

    Negative thoughts have many different causes, and these causes can differ for everyone. The most excessive cause of negative thinking can be as a result of mental health conditions such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

    Depression is also a factor that contributes to negative thoughts. If you feel that you may be struggling with a mental illness, contact a mental health professional to get medical advice.

    Rumination

    Everyone has negative thoughts from time to time; it’s a natural part of life to feel sad or down. The danger for us, however, is when these negative thoughts are replaying over and over in our minds.

    Advertising

    Scientists call this rumination[1]. A habit of rumination can be dangerous to our mental health, as it can prolong or intensify depression as well as impair our ability to think and process emotions.

    The Cortisol Effect

    Cortisol is a hormone, which is mainly released at times of stress and has many important functions in our body. Having the right cortisol balance is essential for human health, and you can have problems if your adrenal gland releases too much or too little cortisol.

    Our brain loves cortisol, as it is there to warn us about imminent danger.[2] The problem occurs when we constantly put our bodies and minds in situations of high stress and negative thinking, as this causes cortisol to overload. Our brain starts to develop patterns of negative thinking, and we start to normalize our thought patterns.

    We train our brains to think we are no longer in imminent danger – this is our new normal, but our cortisol levels become dangerously high. Over time, the body will start to show signs of wear and tear – heart attacks, depression, anxiety, mental illness, etc.

    If you don’t keep your negative thinking under control, you will eventually have to deal with serious health issues.

    Holding on to Fears and Regrets

    Martin Seligman, an American psychologist, educator, and author of self-help books, is a strong promoter within the scientific community of his theories on positive psychology and well-being. He says that the three leading causes of negative thoughts for most people are:

    Fear of the Future

    People can fear the unknown, and, as a result, they start thinking that the worst things can happen, such as failure or disaster. The future hasn’t happened, so people who fear it are distracted from living in the present, which is where they have more control over how they live their lives.

    Advertising

    Anxiety About the Present

    Many of us worry about what others think of us, what the traffic will be like going home, or if we are doing a good job. If we are in a toxic environment or relationship, we are more susceptible to negative thoughts.

    Regret About the Past

    Everyone does things that they are embarrassed or ashamed of. People who are prone to negative thinking tend to dwell on past mistakes and failures more than others.

    No matter what causes your negative thoughts, you can manage them with some strategies. Start dealing with your negative thoughts as soon as you recognize that they are about to become a big problem in your life.

    5 Steps to Manage Your Negative Thoughts

    It is unrealistic to think that you will be able to eliminate all negative thoughts. A more realistic and sustainable approach is to learn strategies to manage your negative thinking so that you have control over how you want to live your life.

    1. Challenge Your Negative Thoughts

    This step-by-step strategy takes time and practice; you will not have control of your thoughts overnight. Be prepared and committed to practicing this strategy on a daily basis.

    This strategy is all about teaching yourself how to counter your negative thoughts. There are 5 questions you can ask yourself:

    1. Is this thought true? Is there a basis for this negative belief?
    2. Is this thought giving your power or is it taking away your power?
    3. Can you put a positive spin on this thought or learn from it?
    4. What would it be like if you didn’t have these negative thoughts?
    5. Is this negative thought hiding you from issues you need to address?

    2. Distract Your Negative Thoughts by Focusing on Something Else

    Visualization is a useful strategy to help you distract yourself from your negative thoughts. Try to picture yourself doing an activity that you love to do—for example, shopping, reading books, listening to music, etc. The key is to train your brain to think about something completely different for at least 30 seconds.

    Advertising

    Be disciplined in trying this technique. Over time, you will have trained your brain to go in a different direction every time your negative thoughts come up.

    You can learn more visualization techniques in this article.

    3. The Balloon Exercise – Throw Away Your Negative Thoughts

    I love this strategy the most. Essentially, what you are doing here is throwing your negative thoughts away.

    Clearing your head of negative thoughts by writing them down and letting them go in a physical way releases you from a lot of negative energy. Some people write down their negative thoughts on a piece of paper and throw in the rubbish bin.

    I like to write my negative thoughts, fears, and regrets on an inflated balloon, and then release it into the sky. Find the technique that feels best for you.

    4.Surround Yourself With Positive People

    The people that you spend your time with have a huge influence on how you live your life.

    If you want to better manage your negative thoughts, then spend time with a friend who has positive energy, a positive outlook on life, and is willing to listen to you share your thoughts and feelings.

    Advertising

    5. Reframe Your Thoughts

    Our mind has this amazing ability to convince us of something that isn’t really true. These untrue and inaccurate thoughts reinforce our negative thinking.

    The next time you are thinking that you are to blame for everything that is going wrong, stop. What you are doing is assuming and personalizing your thoughts and reinforcing this with negative thinking.

    Take a few minutes to acknowledge the great things you do, write these down, and say these wonderful things out loud to yourself. Another strategy you could do is to challenge these thoughts with the questions outlined in step 1.

    Use positivity to overcome negative thoughts

      You can also take a look at these tips on How to Practice Positive Thinking And Change Your Life.

      Final Thoughts

      “The key to happiness – or that even more desired thing, calmness – lies not in always thinking happy thoughts…No mind on earth with any kind of intelligence could spend a lifetime enjoying only happy thoughts. The key is in accepting your thoughts, all of them, even the bad ones. Accept thoughts, but don’t become them.” -Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive

      With dedicated practice and commitment, you can replace negative thought patterns with thoughts that will actually help you achieve happiness and a sense of calm acceptance. There is no doubt that the more positive thoughts you have the more positive results you will achieve in life, so get started today.

      More Tips on Overcoming Negative Thoughts

      Featured photo credit: Danilo Batista via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] BBC: Rumination: The danger of dwelling
      [2] Healthline: High Cortisol Symptoms: What Do They Mean?

      Read Next