Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Components of Motivation

This is the first of two posts on the Components of Motivation.

There are various definitions for the term motivation. But here, we are talking about the motivation to succeed. I can almost guarantee that if someone did the following three things I will discuss in the following two articles I post, he/she would be successful in whatever goal he/she wants to achieve. If I were to give any free advice in life it would be that “understanding motivation is the key to success”.

There are three major components to motivation: activation, persistence and intensity.

Here we look at Activation and Persistence

Activation involves the decision to initiate a behaviour, such as enrolling in a psychology class or driving to the gym.

Woody Allen once said “80% of success is showing up”. You might not agree with this initially, but just have a think for a minute. If you have ever been a gym goer you might get this. Sometimes thinking of that initial physical movement where you have to get off the couch and into the car can at times be more strenuous and stress provoking then the actual tough exercise you do when at the gym. You just gotta get there; everything will be fine and even enjoyable once you get into it. If that doesn’t make sense, think of going to work on a Monday. Life doesn’t seem worth living Sunday night, but come 10am Monday morning your right back in the swing of things and even joking and catching up with workmates. Just get to work in the first place and you can sort those negative feelings out later.

Following that we have persistence.

Persistence is the continued effort toward a goal even though obstacles may exist. It requires a significant investment of time, energy and resources.

In a moment when you feel really motivated (e.g. watching a YouTube video with impressive feats and awesome background music) you feel like you can take on the world. You really just want to get into things, start your blog or start your workout programme or whatever. However, this initial feeling probably won’t last more than 24hrs. That’s why the second component of motivation is so important. Persistence means that you need to keep working just as hard after those initial butterfly feelings dilute. You need to go to the gym again tomorrow and the next day, next week, next month and all year. Persistence then is about continuing down the path of success when things get stale, get boring, get uncomfortable, get hard, or there is a difficult obstacle to overcome.

Really persistence comes down to how bad you want to be successful. If you want something bad enough, then you will do anything to get it. I wanted a first in my Psychology masters. In order to do so I had to spend a year basically being a recluse. I rarely went out, rarely made phone calls and didn’t take any holidays. Almost every minute I had, I dedicated to study. I wanted a first, I was

persistent and I got it. It was really hard, but worth every single minute of work. Funnily enough when you’re on that sort of a buzz, that persistence buzz, in a sick kind of a way you start to enjoy it. Seeing the results roll in, feeling yourself becoming more intelligent and beating people in your class in exams/essays (really, really intelligent people; one girl had eidetic memory (photographic memory) and others received top academic scholarships). But my marks were always higher than theirs because I was dedicated/persistent.

But there are levels of persistence. It all comes down to how bad someone wants to be successful in their chosen goal. Eric Thompson (motivational speaker) spoke of Beyonce being on set once; three days had gone by and she didn’t realise she hadn’t eaten. She was so focused and so persistent in achieving her goal, that eating just wasn’t relevant. Eric Thompson is a guy that really got me to understand the concept of persistence. I remember watching a video on YouTube (link at the bottom) where he got a school class to try to imagine the air running out of their lungs as they struggled to surface above water. After a vivid description of what this painful feeling is like, he tells the class; “when all you want to do is be successful as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful. I’m here to tell you that no.1 most of you say you want to be successful, but you don’t want it bad, you just kinda want it. You don’t want it badder than you want to party, you don’t want it as bad as you want to be cool, most of you don’t want success as much as you want to sleep. Some of you love sleep more than you love success, and I’m here to tell you today if you’re going to be successful you gotta be willing to give up sleep. You gotta be willing to work off of three hours of sleep two hours… Some days, if you really want to be successful, you’re going to have to stay up three days in a row; because if you go to sleep you might miss the opportunity to be successful. That’s how bad you gotta want it.”

Eric Thompson acknowledges the fact that this is hard work. “Most of you won’t be successful because when you’re studying and you get tired, you quit. On all roads to success you have to go through pain. If it was easy, everybody would do it. Everyone would be a millionaire. But there is one thing I can guarantee you, if you can be persistent, if you can outlast that pain and outlast that discomfort. On the other side of it is success.

As the American Footballer Emitt Smith once said: “All men are created equal, but some work harder in preseason.”

In the next post we will talk about the final component (intensity). Intensity separates those who are good and those who are great.