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A study was conducted where a large group of fifth graders had to work on numerous puzzles by themselves. these were very challenging puzzles but regardless of how well each child did the were told that they scored very well and better than most of the other kids.
Afterwards half of these students were told that they scored high because they worked hard while the other half were told that it was all because they were smart and gifted.
Then each student was presented with three more types of puzzles to work on easy, medium, difficult and extremely challenging ones. They found something very interesting, the students who were told that they did well because they were smart spent the majority of their time on the easy puzzles, they spent almost no time on the extremely challenging puzzles and spent much less time overall trying to solve any of the puzzles which was a sign of lower levels of motivation.
Also, when asked whether or not they enjoyed the experiment they said that it wasn't that fun for them.
On the other hand the students who were told that they did well because they worked hard spent the majority of their time focused on the harder puzzles they also spent a lot more time overall attempting to solve any of the puzzles which was a sign of an increase in levels of motivation.
Also to top it all off after the experiment they said that they actually enjoyed the entire experience.
What we can learn from this study is a concept called the locus of control which is essentially the degree to which you believe you have control over your life.
The kids who were told that they did well because they were smart were led to believe in what's called an external locus of control they were led to believe that factors outside of what they could control like you can't control whether or not you're born smart.
On the other hand the kids were told they did well because they worked hard started to believe in what's called an internal locus of control. They believed that it was factors they controlled that led to their outcomes. Like it was their hard work and the extra effort that they put.
Having an internal locus of control is the key to staying motivated. You must feel like you have control over your life and that you are responsible for the things that happen to you if you want to feel motivated all of the time
The best way to do so is by simply solving problems in your own life and then taking some time to appreciate the fact that it was your actions that solved this problem.
For instance, Let's say you're someone who struggles with falling asleep. So you do some research and find out if you get some more sunlight in the morning, not use phone 1hr before going to bed and install a blue light filter on your phone should drastically increase you to sleep faster when bedtime comes around you. Do all of those things and you find yourself sleeping 15 minutes faster than before.
When you notice this improvement you need to say to yourself because of the changes I made because of the effort I put in that I am now able to sleep better.
It's that simple build up of belief that you are in control of your destiny, that you have an internal locus of control and you will never have issues with motivation in your life.
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