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How to Motivate Someone, Including Yourself

https://positivepsychology.com/how-to-motivate-someone-or-yourself/

positivepsychology.com

How to Motivate Someone, Including Yourself
Although it might seem simple to come up with strategies and recommendations on how to motivate ourselves and others, it rarely works. So what does work?

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Motivation is a complex process

Motivation is a complex process

Motivation is a complex process to explain or to realize fully.

Motives are internal experiences that can be categorized into needs, cognitions, and emotions that are influenced by environmental events and social contexts. These internal and external forces can be used to increase motivation by targeting either physiological or psychological needs.

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Motivational strategies that show success

  • Teachers that plan lessons to be interesting, curiosity-provoking, and personally inspiring have better success in motivating their students to read.
  • Leaders have better success in motivating their employees when they take the employees' perspective and invite them to create their own self-endorsed work goals.
  • Parents are more successful when they try to truly understand why their children don't want to do something and then take the time to explain to them the benefits of the activity.

Most successful interventions do not try to change another person's motivation or emotion directly. Instead, they make changes to the person's environmental conditions and the quality of his or her relationships to encourage them to leave behind neglectful or abusive ones.

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The basic psychological needs

According to Self-Determination Theory, there are three basic psychological needs which we want to satisfy:

  • Autonomy (self-determination). We are motivated when we have a choice in terms of tasks, time, team, and technique.
  • Competence (capability and effectiveness). Mastery is a mindset. When we strive toward something greater than ourselves, it demands effort.
  • Affiliation needs (association and belonging). We are motivated to form long-lasting positive relationships with others.

External rewards do not work because we don't do rule-based routine tasks. Instead, we need to create environments where intrinsic motivation thrives, where we can gain satisfaction from the activities themselves.

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Recognized psychological needs

  • The need for closure. It motivates us to arrive at a stable conclusion. To satisfy the need for closure, we can provide clear expectations and well-defined, measurable goals, regular feedback, and timelines.
  • The need for cognition is our desire to understand experiences and things in our environment. Providing reasons for why tasks need to be performed can help satisfy the need for understanding.
  • The need for meaning motivates us to understand how we relate to our environment, especially after traumatic events.
  • The need for power motivates us to want to be noticed and to desire to influence other people, to be in command, and to have high status.
  • The need for self-esteem refers to how a person feels about the self.
  • The need for achievements is guided by the motive to achieve success and to avoid failure. The need for achievement can be satisfied by accomplishing challenging tasks.

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Our concept of self plays a major role in motivation

If you change the contents of your thinking, then you change your motivational state. The same applies to other cognitive aspects like goals, mindset, values, perceived control, identity, etc.

Self-concept is learned and comes from how we represent our characteristics. We are motivated to change our behaviour in ways that confirm our self-view and avoid those that contradict. We also observe the behaviour of others that we may want to become. These possible selves become long-term goals that generate and sustain the motivation to develop toward the hoped-for ideal.

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Emotions as feedback

  • Others can be motivated by giving feedback on changes in emotion, behaviour, and well-being.
  • Praise can create positive emotions, while mastery programs can increase a sense of competence.
  • Positive feedback, expressing gratitude and awe can be used to induce change.

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Learning self-control

Monitoring one's goal-setting progress increases our capacity to persevere with our long-term goals on our own. Self-control is the central part of the process of self-regulation and is essential for sustained motivation.

Our ability to suppress, restrain, and override a desire or temptation is quickly depleted when we pursue a long-term goal. We can increase our ability for self-control by good nutrition, training, experiencing a positive effect, and when our psychological needs are met.

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Motivation and stress

Stress can impact our motivation. To cope with stressors involve planning, execution, and feedback.

  • During planning, we analyze if a life-changing event is positive, negative, or irrelevant to our well-being. If it is a negative event, we find resources to manage the event.
  • During execution, we determine how to cope with the stressor. When the stressor is low, reappraisal is a good strategy, but when the stress is very high, distraction is more effective.
  • During feedback, we can use it to reappraise the stressor or to change coping and emotion regulation strategies.

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Factors of activities that promote motivation

  • There are clear goals.
  • Gain immediate feedback.
  • Challenges need to be matched with personal skills.
  • The task has to be challenging enough to require a person to employ their skills and promote concentration and engagement.
  • Focused attention on the task at hand is essential.
  • Perceived control of the situation.
  • Loss of self-consciousness.

Intrinsic motivation and self-initiative are created by activities that are challenging, require skill, and have clear and immediate feedback.

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Feedback and motivation

Feedback, if done well, can leave people feeling motivated and positive.

  • The power of expectations. Establish from the outset what the feedback is intended to accomplish as the person receiving the feedback owns their emotional reaction.
  • The power of accuracy and specificity. Be specific and ensure to provide feedback on performance, not the person's character.
  • Feedback is focused on the future and revolve around discussing ways how to get there.
  • Believing in the project. Your feedback highlights your personal investment and expresses your belief that the work has great potential.
  • The power of relationship. Feedback is a form of connection. Use what you know about the person to give better feedback and to keep them accountable.

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Goal setting and implementation Intentions

We are motivated when we use goals that spell out in advance when, where, and how we will achieve it.

We plan beforehand how we are going to overcome possible problems. For example, if your goal is to eat less sugar, your implementation could be "When the dessert menu arrives, I will order coffee."

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Integration - understanding of the self

Dr Daniel Siegel's model of wellbeing consists of nine areas of integration as ways to promote harmony and increased motivation:

  1. Integration of consciousness that allows for awareness and clarity of our mind.
  2. Bilateral integration happens when we reconcile our thinking and emotional brain.
  3. Vertical integration allows for greater body awareness and a form of creating a mind-body connection.
  4. Memory integration focus on memories and how it affects our wellbeing.
  5. Narrative integration is how we find meaning and explain our experiences.
  6. Mental state integration concerns itself with the need for being alone versus the need to be social.
  7. Interpersonal integration is about how we relate to others.
  8. Temporal integration is about our sense of time and our thoughts about permanence and certainty.
  9. Transpirational integration is about the expended sense of self.

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Techniques for sustaining motivation

Motivation is not enough. To encourage lasting change, we need reminders, repetition, and habits.

  • Reminders: Schedule your gym times in your planner with your client meetings. Set out your running clothes the night before.
  • Repetition: Regular reminders can create repetition, which is essential for lasting change. Track your progress on a visible chart.
  • Habits: We form habits when we keep up our reminders and repetition, as the brain creates new pathways associated with a particular behaviour.

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How to motivate people

To be able to motivate requires a great amount of practice. These skills do not come naturally but can be improved upon with practice.
Some techniques to enhance motivation:

  • Acknowledge what the person says to show that you're really listening.
  • Clarifying and summarizing can deepen mutual understanding.
  • Validating a person's feelings is essential to create a safe space where they don't feel judged.
  • Ask how he or she managed to overcome a similar situation.
  • Help the person to reframe the situation.
  • Celebrate their wins to increase positive emotions.
  • Expose limiting beliefs by asking how true is that belief and how has it affected them.
  • Consider the opposite view they currently hold to allow for a different interpretation.
  • Assumptions are about why, if this happened in the past, must it happen again.

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