I don’t know about you, but I had a very long list of things that I wanted to do during the break. From strategies of studying to even ways of improving my writing – I had all the fun and exciting activities that anyone would want to experience during their break. I was motivated to do all of these and I also created a plan on how I was going to achieve them. Well to keep it short, I lost my motivation to do them. And what do I mean by “lost my motivation”? I clearly had a PLAN on how I will do these things, so what changed?
I know what you’re thinking. “Maybe these activities that you set out to do yourself weren’t as exciting as you thought they’d be”. *Cough* Well that could be the case. I mean I’m not going to lie but no one really wants to spend their 2-week break studying, am I right? But what I really noticed is that as soon as my break began, all the excitement and the plans that I had to do these activities, just… disappeared. My motivation slid down the drain.
Motivation is the procedure that begins, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behaviours. Motivation is what causes you to act, whether it’s watching a movie for pleasure, or eating to eliminate hunger. It includes the biological, emotional, social, and cognitive forces that activate behaviour. To put it into context, motivation is often used to describe why an individual does something. For example, you could say that a friend of yours is very motivated to be a musician, so they write songs and play instruments every day! Now, what lies beyond the wall of motivation to do what we do is what you want to know right?
Many psychologists have proposed different theories of motivation for example instinct theory and drive theory. And just like in every emotion, motivation has many different forces that guide and direct us in making decisions.
Okay, I can’t be the only one who’s had goals such as “wanting to lose 10 kgs or getting better at math”. Now, we all know these types of goals; the ones that once you make them – or even thinking about them – you quickly realize that simply having the desire to accomplish something is not enough! To get good at math or lose 10 kgs requires the ability to carry on through big stone; the endurance to keep going, despite the frustration of gaining the 10 kgs back! Now, to understand what really drives us to act, let’s dig deeper into motivation, shall we?
There are three important components to motivation: activation, persistence and intensity. Activation is the decision to start a behaviour, for example getting a personal trainer or creating a workout routine. Persistence is the endless effort towards a goal, even with the presence of those big rocks trying to stop you. For instance, working out despite the exhaustion and the pain you might experience depicts persistence. Intensity is in the concentration and energy that goes into pursuing a goal. Now the question we’ve all been waiting for, what motivates us to act?
The instinct theory of motivation proposes that behaviours are motivated by instincts, which are fixed and inborn patterns of behaviours. For instance, the basic human drive that motivates behaviours is love and fear. Then we have drives and needs. Several of our behaviours are motivated by our biological needs, such as sleeping, eating and drinking. The arousal theory essentially suggests that people are motivated to participate in behaviours that help them maintain their excellent level of arousal. Those with low arousal needs may pursue relaxing activities such as writing, while those with high arousal needs may be motivated to participate in thrilling and exciting activities, such as skydiving.
And of course, motivation has internal and external factors, called extrinsic and intrinsic factors. You probably guessed it, but extrinsic motivation is aroused from outside of the person – including rewards such as money or fame. Intrinsic motivation arises from – you guessed it – within. This includes solving puzzles purely for the satisfaction of solving a difficult problem.
Phew, ain’t that a lot to chew on? I’m definitely exhausted just from digesting all of this information! I don’t know about you, but I still have a lot of questions. But at least now I know why my break didn’t go as planned! Or maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t motivation’s fault this time… maybe our “dear old friend” procrastination decided to pay me a visit?