Thoughts on Motivation
I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation lately. I’ve been listening to Daniel H. Pink’s new book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Honestly, I feel like the title is a bit much. I am not sure if it is that surprising, but I am really enjoying the scientific research he’s discovered on the matter. He talks a lot about extrinsic and intrinsic rewards, which I remember learning about waaaaay back in my college management classes. But he makes a very good point; science shows that great work environments have certain aspects to them (and have shown it since the 70s.) However, that hasn’t changed old outdated business practices or translated to the offices of 2018.
Which makes me think about personal goals. Daniel Pink makes some very good arguments that not only do goals backed with rewards not work, they can actually do the exact opposite of what you think they will. For example, if you set the goal too low, people will do that, and no more. Even when on their own they might have been tempted to try more, if a goal is met, they will stop. On the other hand, if a goal is too hard, people will give up far too soon. This is especially true if there is an award attached to the goal that they are willing to give up. However, if a goal is hard, but the reward is that working on it is fun, or helps someone get new skills, or has a good cause attached to it, people will work much harder and longer, even if achieving the goal is impossible.
Food, Nutrition, and Diet
So naturally, this makes me think about weight goals and dieting. One of the ideas in Mr. Pink’s book is that people will work towards a Purpose. If they have a reason – specifically something outside of themselves – they will work much harder towards it. His examples are in the corporate setting, but I keep thinking about my own goals.
When I first lost weight, it was for my family. About six months before I decided to lose weight, my sister had some medical issues. The family rallied around her. I hadn’t been to this particular hospital since my father had died of lung cancer years before. My sister’s issues were just a terrible luck of the draw kind of thing, but my father’s were not. His lung cancer was basically self-inflicted, and it hurt all of us. And that got me thinking. Wasn’t my weight kind of doing the same thing? I lost weight because I decided to do it, but there was a small voice in my head reminding me of my “why.” It was to make sure if something happened to me, it wasn’t of my own making. It also was about being around to play and romp with my awesome nieces, something that was getting harder and harder to do.
Finding Your “Why”
Having a Purpose, outside of yourself, can help you achieve great things. Whether it is losing weight or gaining muscle, having something that moves you and gets you – right in the heart – is where the motivation lies. It’s easy to let ourselves down, we do it all the time. But to let someone else down, that is much harder. Having a great reason “why” can help pull you through the hard times and the times you just want to give up.
So, if you are working on goals, whether they be nutrition based or something else, look for your “why.” Find the thing that gets your heart. It will help – I promise!