What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.
Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.
Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.
Eighty percent of success is showing up.
Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.
Motivation is a word we use to describe a certain kind of action-oriented behavior, or to give a reason for behavioral action. What causes a person to do something in repetition, what compels them from inside their mind, is how we define "motivation."
One way to think about motivation is to first think about "what" motivation is - its sources - and then explore "how" motivation works - its process.
Motivation is driven by behavior. It includes responses to one's environment or circumstances, biological and emotional forces, social interactions (or a lack in social activity), and cognitive actions. All of those things cause a series of reactions inside of us that drive how we act.
The interesting thing about "motivation" is that desire is not enough to maintain it.
For starters, you need to decide that you want to do something. Your decision to take action is what activates motivation. There are days when I want to go run, but decide to stay inside and work. I know my body needs the exercise, but I decide to work on a project instead. Often times, we hear these inner voices in our bodies telling us we need to do things - but until we decide to do - we are lacking motivation.
Another key ingredient to motivation is persistence. Once you decide to start doing something, you have to keep doing it until the goal is reached. I think a lot of people believe that "motivation" is some magical power that fills our body to allow us to accomplish more than we normally do. That speaks more to the "pleasure" we receive from success. But what happens when not everything is pleasurable? For example, running can cause pain or discomfort. However, persistence is what allows us to continue to achieving our goal or completing a task, even when things are not as enjoyable.
This brings us to our level of intensity, as well as a recognition of how we can use "pleasure vs. pain" to stay motivated.
Our intensity with a project is measured by our concentration and energy and effort. We all know people who bring a high level of intensity to their work. We have all brought a high level of intensity to a project or moment. Likewise, we have all had moments when we have been very relaxed or passive in our work - lacking intensity.
While I do not want to over-simplify the concept of intensity, I do think there is a strong correlation to the "pleasure" vs "pain" centers in our brain. We are genuinely more interested in things that we find pleasurable. It is the reason why so many people procrastinate (lack motivation) with their taxes, doing yard work, exercising, changing their diet, etc.
Pleasure also impacts habit formation, which is another topic that I think aligns very deeply to motivation. Habits are chemical memories in our brain that encourage us to take a specific course of action. Over time, strong habits become almost hard-wired into our brains, and therefore, are much more difficult to change. An extreme habit (in some ways) is an addiction.
We often lack intensity around things we dislike doing or associate with pain and discomfort. In a very real way, I think the issue of pleasure vs pain has a strong impact on our intensity and our persistence / commitment to completing what we decide we want to do. In short, this reaction can impact our decision-making process and prevent us from becoming motivated or act as a demotivating force in our lives.
For example, we can decide to go and run, but then as it gets tougher and the pain grows, we often decide to walk to achieve a level of pleasure. Or if we need to complete a project plan in a spreadsheet that requires a lot of detail. Just getting started can be difficult, because there already is a negative association - a feeling of pain - with undertaking the work. However, it needs to be completed by a specific date and time, therefore, the pain of not getting it done starts to override the pain of doing it. Our motivation can grow in that last scenario, but we won't have the same level of intensity.
Therefore, much of my focus on motivation in my blog, Colliding With The Social Web, is going to center around habit formation, and pleasure vs pain reactions, and how to change my (or one's) association with pain (a sensation that will limit or prevent motivation) to one of pleasure (a sensation that will encourage motivation). This will not be my only focus - but a strong part of it.
This page is designed to be a resource. We ALL need help staying motivated. As I learn from reading psychological studies, theories, anecdotes and other types of resources, I will share my thoughts and strategies here.
I also encourage people to share their own ideas as well. If you want to share your ideas and/or be interviewed on your thoughts, please reach out to me at: mike [at] hackmer [dot] com. Or complete the "Contact" form on my website.