• Héctor A. Venegas

motivation... and how to get it


We all need motivation to be able to fulfil a task and achieve big goals.

Sometimes we can’t seem to start what we had planned to do and so we end up postponing, or not doing it at all.

But what is this mysterious power, that helps us achieve our goals or fail even trying? And how do we get it?

Motivation is described as the general willingness to do something.

Psychologists tell us there are two main types of motivation. Intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. They differentiate by the origin of where the motivation comes from. If the motivation is based on factors, that come from outside (extrinsic) or whether the motivation arises from within (intrinsic).

Depending on which kind of motivation we are dealing with, this will have an effect on our behavior and define how we pursue our goals.

Extrinsic motivation will make us engage in a behavior not because we enjoy it or find it satisfying, but because we want to avoid a punishment or get something in return.

Intrinsic motivation in comparison to this is fueled by the task itself. The activity is the desired reward. We enjoy performing the task itself.

You could assume, that intrinsic motivation would be better or more effective than extrinsic motivation. This is not necessarily the case. Both motivational types can be very efficient.

There is a big difference though. While the intrinsic motivation only needs little triggers to be activated, it’s the extrinsic motivation we need to work on.

As we do not like to perform all the different tasks we need to do, to achieve our goals, extrinsic motivation needs to be built up.

To be able to feel motivation we need to make it a habit, to be able to perform our tasks effectively.

Why a habit?

When we start implementing sports on a regular basis into our lives, we have to start somewhere. Let’s take running as an example. I don't know anyone that starts running, who would say “Yay…I always wanted to run 5 k!!”

But those that have made it a habit to run 5k twice a week love it and are even looking forward doing it, because they anticipate the feeling they have, when they have finished the run. It’s a good feeling.

But we have to start somewhere.

A habit starts with a routine.

Before starting to run, you have to put on your running shoes. If you focus on the routine of putting on your running shoes, and take that as a trigger, you will soon notice, that while you put them on, you will start feeling this good feeling of when you perform the task of running.

You will soon notice that there is a specific sequence of tasks that you do, while getting ready for running, which are emotionally linked to the activity itself.

I’m not good with running, I’m better with golf. When I prepare for the drive on the tee, I have a perfectly clear sequence of tasks that I perform. Including the visualization of how the ball will fly. Although it might not always work out how I wanted it, it is extremely important to have the right sequence to get into the right mindset.

This means that we have to consider motivation as an activity and link it to our positive emotions. We have to set a routine for motivation.

To build up a routine, we have to follow standardized steps like the ones we do, when we get ready for the run or get ready to hit the golf ball from the tee onto the fairway.

The most successful business leaders have a daily routine for their start of the day. Some read, some do yoga, some others do active sport. Not because they have to, but because it gives them a positive feeling. They rise their levels of the so-called happiness chemicals dopamine, oxytocin and endorphin, which build the basis for a great start into the day.

We need to build ourselves a happiness routine.

When we get ourselves into this state of mind, we will have the basis for feeling motivated to do the tasks that might seem hard or even unachievable.

To make that happen, it is important to be in a relaxed mindset. This can be achieved with physical exercise, creative tasks and relaxed nights with sufficient sleep.

Once we have established our happiness routine, we can recall this feeling right before starting a challenging task and motivate ourselves performing it.

In regard to that it is always good to dream big, but to keep in mind the small steps towards the big goal.

Visualize your goals and think of the small steps towards the big goal. Focus on achieving one step after the next.

This is how a marathon runner manages reaching the finishing line without thinking of the 42k while running.

Visualization is key to achieving our goals and to stay motivated on the way.

Every golf player knows, if you don't visualize how the ball will fly and where it will land, your body will never know how to move to make that happen.

This means that motivation can and needs to be trained like a muscle. This also means that it will weaken and get lost at times.

That will happen.

If we manage to build that routine and constantly rebuild our motivation, if we get inspired by the positive experiences we will encounter along the way, we will be able to achieve great things.

Try it! You will see how it works!

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