Motivation pertains to what drives an individual to do or not to do something. It is what pushes an individual to perform. Happy and content people are the way they are because they have already accepted the drawbacks in life, and are ready to face and resolve the issues. There are various reasons an individual remains motivated, which could range from positive to negative. Regardless of reason, badly wanting to achieve something is what separates achievers from underachievers. Therefore, motivation is the power that initiates action, directs an individual towards his goal, and sustains goal-oriented behaviors.
According to Cherry (A), motivation is governed by forces that stimulate behavior, such as “biological, emotional, social, and cognitive forces”. It determines the reason for an individual to do something. For example, an individual who wants to get the long-deserved promotion would opt to come early to the office, complete his projects on time, and offer his help to other members of the team when the need arises. On the other hand, an individual who is consumed with anger could also use the powerful feelings of hate to accomplish his goals. Either way, an individual completes his goals through motivation.
According to psychologists, there are three factors that control motivation, namely, activation, persistence, and intensity. Activation refers to the element that pushes the individual to act, for instance, joining a swimming event or planning a party. Persistence pertains to the element that keeps the individual to persevere or continue doing his or her best to accomplish the goal regardless of difficulties and blockages along the way, such as training more and harder to make the body stronger and ready for the swimming competition. Finally, there is the element of intensity or the amount of focus and determination the individual puts into the accomplishment of the goal. As an example, swimmers who intend to join a swimming competition need to train hard in order to prepare for the event. However, some swimmers would concentrate on the training by spending time, effort, and resources, as well as change their sleeping habits and follow the dietary requirements for swimmers, while others will just coast along and break the rules (Cherry (A)).
There are various forms of motivation that prove how the effects vary from person to person, depending on learning experience and actual performance. According to Ormrod (2010), extrinsic motivation refers to elements that are external to an individual and does not have any relation to the activity an individual is performing. It is based on rewards, pleasing others, or getting the approval of other people. For instance, an individual who completes a goal in the hope of getting a reward is an example of an extrinsically motivated individual. On the other hand, intrinsically motivated individuals exhibit behaviors that show how much he or she enjoys the task at hand. In other words, just performing the activity gives them pleasure and happiness as they recognize how the activity adds to their skills and abilities, or reinforces their beliefs. Because of their attentiveness to the activity, they have a tendency to forget about time and space and often get caught up in the activity. Intrinsic motivation is more related to the psychological rewards one gets out of the activity.
Of the two forms of motivation, intrinsically motivated individuals get more benefits because apart from achieving their goals, they also become more adept with a specific skill or experience more pleasure out of completing the activity. However, it is not to say that extrinsic motivation is bad because for some people, wanting something or completing a goal despite not enjoying the experience is what helps them accomplish their goals, thus, the need to complete the goal regardless of their motivation.
Psychologists also claim that there are various theories related to motivation. These factors are said to influence human behavior and because people have different personalities, expectedly, some of the succeeding theories will apply to an individual and not just one.
Incentive Theory of Motivation is one form of motivation that pushes an individual to perform because of the possible rewards one is set to receive after completing a goal. The rewards may be in monetary form such as bonuses, promotions, free tickets to ball games, and scholarships, among others (“Incentive Motivation”).
Drive Theory of Motivation, “people are motivated to take certain actions in order to reduce the internal tension that is caused by unmet needs” (Cherry (b)). While this is an effective way of explaining behaviors that are controlled by biological factors, these are not always driven by physiological needs, but by other factors as well. For example, humans drink water naturally to satisfy the internal need to feel refreshed, however, humans also eat to fulfill the feelings of hunger. But people also eat when they are not hungry just because they want to enjoy the company of other people.
Arousal Theory of Motivation asserts that humans maintain a level of stimulation in order to feel calm and comfortable. Arousal or stimulation may be in the “emotional, intellectual, and physical activity” (“Psychology 101”). It is a type of motivation that arises from a need to feel a balance wherein one is not too aroused to want to perform an activity, or too depressed to complete the goal. This explains why some individuals look for activities that would keep them physically active while others prefer a more passive way of expressing their desires.
The next type of motivation is called the Humanistic Theory of Motivation. This theory emphasizes how humans will persist until the goal is reached. Based on this theory, “humans are driven to achieve their maximum potential and will always do so unless obstacles are placed in their way” (“Psychology 101”). Anything that takes away the focus on psychological growth of the individual is considered a hindrance, such as financial issues, hunger, and safety concerns, among others. This is also sometimes referred to as growth theory. Humans’ need for self-improvement is intrinsic and the desire to learn more and increase knowledge is a strong form of motivation. This could also equate to an individual’s desire for change, especially when one views growth as an essential part of living. Thus, stagnation or any forms of reduction of knowledge is viewed as undesirable.
Motivation is not only about wanting something, but the burning desire to achieve the goal. When an individual is not motivated enough, an obstacle along the path to success is enough reason to quit. Therefore, people must increase their levels of motivation to ensure that they reach and complete their goals.
Perry (2009) shares that by increasing the challenges in the goals, an individual is more likely to stay motivated and excited to see through the goals from start to finish. It also helps to change the ways on how to accomplish the goals to always stay stimulated and see the challenges with fresh eyes. This method also helps open the individual’s creativity, which could even lead to ingenious ways of achieving goals instead of the normal means of accomplishing goals. Perry also encourages individuals to “find [their] intrinsic motivation” when planning to accomplish the goals. What is it that drives the individual to succeed? Is it family? Is it the joy of learning a new skill? Is it the opportunity to travel while actually completing the goals? Understanding what it is that motivates the individual internally will help make the experience more joyful and exciting. Finally, Perry says sometimes, people should just “forget about the goal and find the fun” (2009) in the activities that lead towards the achievement of the goal. The most important factor is “entering the flow” (Perry) and incorporating the fun in the activity. If it is not enjoyable, then people should evaluate what needs to be changed so as to take pleasure in the experience.
One of the biggest challenges in life is finding the motivation to stick to a goal regardless of the obstacles along the way. If people can stick to their goals long enough to see it through the end, they not only reap the rewards of success but develop patience and motivation as well. Motivation is the key and should never be taken lightly as it is what keeps people engaged in their activities. Humans should not let the world decide their capacities, but should take it upon themselves to lead themselves and create their own paths to happiness and success.
Cherry, K. (a). Theories of motivation. About.com. Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/psychologytopics/tp/theories-of-motivation.htm
Cherry, K. (b). What is motivation. About.com. Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/mindex/g/motivation-definition.htm
“Incentive motivation”. (n.d). Indiana.edu.com. Retrieved from http://www.indiana.edu/~p1013447/dictionary/incent.htm
Ormrod, J.E. (2010). Extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation. Education.com. Retrieved from http://www.education.com/reference/article/extrinsic-versus-intrinsic-motivation/
Perry, S. K. Creating in flow. Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/creating-in-flow/200907/5-keys-unlock-your-creative-motivation
“Psychology 101”. (n.d.). All Psyche Online. Retrieved from http://allpsych.com/psychology101/motivation.html