Self Motivation (sharing another article from Mind Tools)
Thursday, January 07, 2010
(from " Mind Tools, Essential Skills for an Excellent Career!"
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Editors' Choice Article
Find the Drive You Need to Succeed
How self-motivated do you feel? And how hard do you push yourself to get things done?
Wanting to do something and motivating yourself to do it are two different things. So, what's the difference between those who never reach their goals, year after year, and those who achieve one goal after another? Often, it's self-motivation.
Self-motivation is the force that keeps pushing us to go on - it's our internal drive to produce, develop, and achieve. When you think you're ready to quit something, or you just don't know how to start, self-motivation is what pushes you forward.
With self-motivation, you'll learn and grow - regardless of the specific situation. That's why it's so fundamentally important for achieving your goals, realizing your dreams, and succeeding.
How To Boost Your Self-Motivation
Self-motivation is complex. It's linked to how much initiative you show in setting challenging goals for yourself; your belief that you have the skills and abilities needed to achieve those goals; and your expectation that if you put in enough hard work, you will succeed (or at least be "in the running", if it's a competitive situation).
Four factors are necessary to build the strongest levels of self-motivation:
1. Self-confidence and self-efficacy.
2. Positive thinking.
3. Focus, and strong goals.
4. A motivating environment.
By working on all of these together, you should quickly improve your self-motivation. Let's look at each of these factors individually.
1. Self-Confidence and Self-Efficacy
Part of being self-motivated is having good levels of self-assurance, self-confidence, and self-efficacy. More on these below!
Being highly self-assured means you set challenging goals for yourself, and it also makes you more resilient when you encounter setbacks. If you don't believe in yourself, you'll be much more likely to think, "I knew I couldn't do this" instead of "This one failure isn't going to stop me!"
Albert Bandura, a psychologist from Stanford University, defined self-efficacy as a belief in our own ability to succeed, and in our ability to achieve the goals we set for ourselves. This belief has a huge impact on your approach to goal setting, and on your choices as you work toward those goals.
According to Bandura's research, people with high self-efficacy tend to view difficult goals as a challenge, whereas people with low self-efficacy are likely to view the same goals as being beyond their abilities, and might not even attempt to achieve them. Self-efficacy also contributes to the amount of effort a person puts into a goal in the first place, and how much he or she perseveres despite setbacks.
By developing a general level of self-confidence in yourself, you will not only believe you can succeed, but you'll also recognize and enjoy the successes you've already had. That, in turn, will inspire you to build on those successes. The momentum created by self-confidence is hard to beat.
Take these steps to build your sense of self-assuredness, self-efficacy and self-confidence:
* Reflect on the achievements in your life. Take pride in them.
* Examine your strengths, so that you understand what you can build on.
* Determine what other people see as your strengths and key capabilities.
* Set achievable goals for yourself, work to achieve them, and enjoy that achievement.
* Seek out mentors and other people who display the competencies, skills, and attributes you want to develop, and learn from them.
As you begin to recognize how much you've already achieved - and understand how much potential you have - you'll develop the confidence you need to set goals and achieve the things you desire. The more you look for reasons to believe in yourself, the easier it will be to find ways to motivate yourself.
2. Positive Thinking, and Positive Thinking About the Future
"Your life today is the result of your attitudes and choices in the past. Your life tomorrow will be the result of your attitudes and the choices you make today." - Author Unknown
Positive thinking is closely related to self-confidence as a factor in self-motivation. It's important to look at things positively, especially when things aren't going as planned and you're ready to give up.
If you think that things are going to go wrong, or that you won't succeed, this can influence things in such a way that your predictions come true. This is particularly the case if you need to work hard to achieve success, or if you need to persuade others to support you in order to succeed. In these situations, your thoughts can have a major influence on whether you succeed or fail, so make sure those thoughts are "on your side."
Positive thinking also helps you think about an attractive future that you want to realize. When you expect positive results, your choices will be more positive, and you'll be less likely to leave outcomes to fate or chance. Having a vivid picture of success, combined with positive thinking, helps you bridge the gap between wanting something, and going out to get it.
To apply "the power of positive thinking", do the following:
* Become aware of your thoughts, positive and negative. Write down these down throughout the day in a diary or log book.
* Challenge the truth of your negative thoughts, rationally and objectively. Where they're wrong, replace them with positive ones.
* Create a strong, vivid and enjoyable picture of what it will be like to achieve your goals.
* Develop affirmations or statements that you can repeat to yourself throughout the day. These statements will remind you of what you want to achieve, and why you will achieve it.
* Practice positive thinking until you automatically think about yourself and the world in a positive way, every day.
3. Strong Goals, and Focus
As we've said above, a key part of building self-motivation is to set strong goals. These give you focus, a clear sense of direction, and the self-confidence that comes from recognizing your own achievement.
First, determine your direction through effective goal setting.
When you set a goal, you make a promise to yourself. Part of the strength of this is that it gives you a clear direction; part is that you've made this promise to yourself, and you'll want to keep this promise; and part is that it's a challenge, and it's fun to try to meet that challenge!
But don't set just any goal. According to leading researcher Edwin Locke, your goal should have the following characteristics:
* Clarity - Effective goals are clear, measurable, specific, and based on behavior, not outcomes.
* Challenge - Goals should be difficult enough to be interesting, but not so difficult that you can't reach them.
* Commitment - Goals should be attainable, and should be relevant - that is, they should contribute in a significant way to the major objectives you're trying to achieve.
* Regularity of Feedback - Set your goals in such a way that you can monitor your progress regularly. This helps you maintain your sense of momentum and enthusiasm, and enjoy your progress towards those goals.
* Sufficient Respect for Complexity - If the goal involves complex work, make sure that you don't over-commit yourself. Complex work can take an unpredictably long time to complete, particularly if you have to learn how to do the task "on the job".
When you have a variety of goals, be sure to schedule your time and resources effectively. You can achieve the "focus" part of self-motivation by prioritizing effectively, and by establishing a schedule that will help you succeed. It doesn't make sense to work until you're exhausted, or to flit from one goal to another without fully achieving any.
By using tools like the Urgent/Important Matrix and the Action Priority Matrix (explained at Mind Tools), you can quickly and easily see how each goal activity fits into the bigger picture of your overall objectives. If you fully understand your priorities, you probably won't feel as pressured to do everything at once. This can reduce stress and help you to concentrate on the most important strategies.
4. Motivating Environment
The final thing to do to maximize motivation is to put yourself into an environment that supports and reinforces success, including surrounding yourself with people and resources that will feed your motivation to succeed. These are external factors - they'll help you get motivated from the outside, which is different from the internal motivation we've discussed so far. However, the more factors you have working for you, the better!
You can't rely on these "environmental" or outside elements alone to motivate you, but you can use them for extra support. Try the following:
* Look for team work opportunities. Working in a team makes you accountable to others.
* Ask your boss for specific targets and objectives that will help you measure your success.
* Ask for assignments that you know you'll find interesting and exciting.
* Set up some goals that you can easily achieve. Quick wins are great for getting you motivated!
* Buddy up with people who you trust to be supportive, and ask them to help keep you accountable.
* Try not to work by yourself too much. Balance the amount of time you work from home with time spent working with others.
When you start your self-motivation program, you may tend to rely heavily on these external factors. As you get more comfortable and confident with self-motivation, you'll probably use them only as needed, and for a little extra help.
Self-motivation doesn't come naturally to everyone. And even those who are highly self-motivated need some extra help every now and then!
Build your self-motivation by practicing goal-setting skills, and combining these with positive thinking, the creation of powerful visions of success, and the building of high levels of self-efficacy and self-confidence.
The attitude you adopt and your belief about your likelihood of success often predict whether or not you actually succeed. Set goals, and work hard to achieve them. Examine ways to improve your self-motivation, and regularly reassess your motivation levels. After all, if you work actively to keep your internal motivation high, you're much more likely to bring about your ideal future!