Have you ever set a personal goal that you initially got excited about, but then quickly lost your motivation? Often what sounds good one day can end up feeling very different once you stop to think about the work and commitment needed to reach the goal. For example, when trying to lose weight it can become frustrating not seeing pounds come off overnight. Similarly, securing a new job often requires searching for job openings, updating your resume, and networking with people who can help — tasks that are sometimes boring and mundane, but require high motivation. So how do some people stay so motivated even with the toughest of tasks, while many others struggle to commit to a goal beyond the first day? People ten ofwonder about the psychology behind successful motivation and goal attainment, so this week I will share an important tip to help.
Defining human motivation
Motivation involves the biological, emotional, social, and cognitive forces that activate human behavior. The term “motivation” is frequently used to describe what drives humans to do things. There are a number of additional factors that impact human motivation, including the nature of the targeted goal(s) and how intrinsically/extrinsically valuable the goal(s) are to the individual. For example, the goal to lose weight is usually more closely linked to intrinsic motivation (the type of motivation for self-interest, and not outside rewards), while pursuing a job promotion is usually related to extrinsic motivation (motivation driven by external rewards, like money). While there are different reasons why people set goals, a common question regardless of motivator has to do with why so many well-intended people give up on their goals so easily?
Motivation can be tough to harness, and that’s probably the reason why so many people go to extreme lengths in order to sustain motivation toward their goals. For folks looking to lose weight, it is not uncommon to see lots of money spent on new shoes/gear, new equipment, and even a new big screen tv in order to make the treadmill less boring. Still, far too many people quit on their weight loss goal — sometimes before even getting started.
A big tip to help
Often when we think of our goals, we tend to focus more about the labor involved getting to the end goal, and not the end goal itself. Drilling deeper, rather than mulling over how hard it is going to be to go outside and get a walk/jog/run in, why not instead think of the exhilaration you will feel at the end of your cardiovascular activity?? Only you get to program your own thoughts, so why not make a better choice? If you have ever worked up a sweat you already know how great it feels to cool down and peel off sweaty clothes — talk about a job well done! In fact, not only is it a physical rush to complete a work out, it’s also a huge confidence boost as well to know that you set out to do something, and then successfully completed that task.
Let me repeat this because it is really important: If you want to increase the likelihood you will complete the tasks necessary to reach your goals, focus your attention on the end after you have completed the work, rather than focusing on the work itself.
I know it may seem simple, arguably too simple, to imagine that by merely changing your focus from what lies ahead of you (work load) to the feelings you will have after your work is done will dramatically increase your chances for future success, but it really does. You can do this with just about any goal you have in mind by thinking of the feelings, confidence, pride, and satisfaction you will experience at the end of your goal process, and by keeping those thoughts in mind you will soon find out for yourself how much better your motivation will be as a result.