The Three Ingredients of Self Motivation

The major reason why we procrastinate is because we are not motivated enough. And there isn’t one single factor that determines motivation. In this article we discuss the three factors that influence self motivation.

I know that I am supposed to do a particular activity like an assignment, or study a book or write letters. But I tend to postpone these indefinitely, citing various excuses.

The major reason why we procrastinate is because we are not motivated enough. Being a mentor for a bunch of young talented students in a leading MBA college allows me in a position where I can see lack of self motivation as one of the biggest stumbling blocks in student and professional life.

And there isn’t one single factor that determines motivation.

Charles Handy talks about 3 things that are required in the motivational calculus.

  1. I should know my needs. These can be the need for security, for money, food, clothing and shelter, or need for companionship, or need for approval, or a need to fulfill my debt to various people.
  2. I should know the result of which activity would satisfy these all or some of these needs.
  3. I should have the energy or the resources (money, time etc.) to spend on those activities.

The above are multiplicative. That is, if any of the three is not there, I would not be motivated.

If I do not know my needs, then no activity would motivate me.

If I do not have the energy or the resources, then I cannot finish the activity satisfactorily.

If I do not know how to satisfy my needs, then I will not be motivated.

Therefore, I have to link the activity (that I dislike) to a need. For example, if I fear that I will fail a course, and therefore have a need to pass it and get rid of my fear, I can link an assignment to that need.  If I need the approval of my colleagues, and the distasteful activity will satisfy that need, then I will try to do the activity.

Whether I finish the activity or not is based on the resources at hand. If I do not have the time, or I delayed it so much that I cannot possibly finish, then I am not motivated to do the activity, even if I know that the activity will satisfy a need.

The same principle holds good for motivating others. If I do not know the needs of another person, I cannot offer him an activity, the result of which would satisfy the needs.

If I do know his needs and I can link it to an activity that I want him to do, and I provide him with the means and resources (including training) to do that activity, the person will be motivated.

Remove any of the three (needsFeature Articles, activity or resources) and there will be no motivation.

Thank You For Reading

Prof. Chandra Kant

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