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Goals should have intrinsic motivation, something that stokes our fire from within.
If people choose goals that are pleasant, the work gets done. On the other hand, if the external reward is big enough, people do unpleasant tasks as well, but not with enthusiasm. Example: Working only for the monthly wage (the extrinsic motivation) turns many people into ‘wage slaves’ who put in the minimum effort necessary to earn their income.
A backwards technique of motivation is exploiting the preference to avoid losses over acquiring gains. Making people aware that they will lose something if the activity isn’t completed is a fear-based but effective method of external motivation.
Example: Making people pay a fine if they don’t walk a certain amount of steps in a day makes them complete their target.
Few people are fans of persistent effort, trying to sustain oneself through any task or project. Effective self-motivation is something that sets normal people apart from high-achievers.
While motivation is a personal effort, there are certain key factors that can help most of us who are trying to lose weight, save, or working on a challenging initiative.
For people struggling to find motivation, taking advice sometimes is less effective than actually giving it. By giving advice to others, they internally solidify their learnings and turn towards following it themselves, increasing their own drive and achievements.
Example: Teaching a subject to others makes us learn the subject more, than simply reading about it.
Research shows that uncertain rewards are a better external motivator than those which are certain. People are willing to invest more time, money and effort into something that feels thrilling.
Example: A chance to win anything between $50 to $150 creates a greater motivation than an assured win of $100 on completion of the task.
One has to set goals that feel rewarding and interesting while being specific. Just having to know that you have to go to the gym may feel like a chore, but setting a goal of running 10,000 steps or doing 20 reps feels like a rewarding challenge.
In cases where one would find nothing interesting about the activity, and still has to do it, one can find certain elements of the work that may have fringe benefits.
As humans are social creatures, we consciously and unconsciously imitate the mannerisms, actions and habits of those around us.
Watching the ambitious, efficient and highly successful coworkers can sometimes backfire, as it can feel demotivating. One has to look at the thing which is being sought after, the achievement that one is moving towards, and talk to the successful person to find their motivation.
Example: The coffee stamps that indicate a person is just two coffee purchases away from earning a reward triggers more coffee consumption.
If you are trying to lose weight and reward yourself with a pizza every time you complete a milestone, the hard work is likely to be undone soon. Achievement of goals is not an incentive for indulgence.
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