Mind,  Motivation

Motivation Part 2: Increasing our Positive Motivation

In Motivation Part 1, we realized that at the heart of motivation are these definitions: 1. “…to want to do a specific thing more than we want to do anything else at a particular time,” and 2. “what we would rather do than not do (20).

However, even with these clearer definitions, we can’t get anywhere if we don’t get past the first two obstacles to motivation: “I won’t do it” and “I can’t do it”. These also happen to be the first two steps on our Motivation Staircase.

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How can you increase your positive motivation?

If you’re not at step 3 yet, begin by asking yourself why you won’t do something and/or why you feel you can’t. Perhaps there’s a self-esteem issue involved and you’re questioning your potential and abilities. Maybe it’s a fear of failure or a fear of what others might think. Whatever it is, they are obstacles to motivation that need to be addressed right from the beginning.

Now that we’re at or near step 3, how do we increase our desire to do something?

It’s all about asking yourself two simple questions: what would you rather happen and how closer are you to your goals.

1. What would I rather happen?

Let’s say you’ll rather sleep in than be at work on time, sit on the couch than go to the gym, watch a tv show than start a paper, or check and update your social media account instead of working on a project. We can all relate. But ask yourself: What would you rather happen?

If you can have the motivation to take medicine or go to the doctor when you’re sick or injured, why not have the motivation to address other ailments in your life?

E. Ballay

Would you rather lose your job, have a bad evaluation, be unhealthier, get a bad grade, or suffer anxiety from just thinking about all the things you haven’t done yet? No, of course not.

2. Am I closer to my goals?

Next, think about your goals and ask: Am I any closer to my goals than I was yesterday–last week–last year?

Doing other less productive things (you’d rather do) instead of what you should do doesn’t mean you’re unmotivated or lack goals. You’re just more motivated to do those other things. This is more likely when your goals are either not concrete or they’re not prioritized.

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The less productive things we’d rather do than what we should do are’nt necessarily bad. However, if you catch yourself resorting to these things all the time as a way to avoid addressing to-do list items, you’re more unproductively motivated than positively motivated.

Unproductive motivation is procrastination.

E. Ballay

In Summary

Thinking back to Economics 101 and opportunity costs, positive motivation comes from having the presence of mind about the opportunity cost of your actions. You can start to have that presence of mind by regularly asking yourself these two questions.

  1. What would I rather happen?
  2. How closer am I to my goals?

We’re now on the fourth step of the motivation staircase: How do I do it? Stay tuned for Part 3 for tips on getting things done.

Barksdale, L. S. Building Self-Esteem. The Barksdale Foundation, 1989.

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