Understanding motivation

Why understanding motivation matters

Why do many of us struggle with achieving our personal goals, such as eating healthier or exercising more or getting more sleep? Why can't we just do it? It boils down to a lack of sufficient self-motivation.
Motivation is an internal process where a person develops a strong reason for accomplishing something.

Discover what motivates you

Everyone is motivated in different ways and by different things. According to researchers, people are motivated to do something because:
• It is fun
• It is intrinsically rewarding
• They want approval from others
• They want to achieve personal goals or standards
• It fits with their personal beliefs

Internal and external factors of self-motivation

Motivation can be drawn internally - by setting our minds on our goals or pursuing personal growth. External factors of motivation include things like social influence, health concerns and incentives that may be provided to us.
Both types of motivation can be helpful in different situations. Motivation is not just confined to the inside of an individual, but also exists in an interpersonal or environmental context.

Biochemistry of motivation

Motivation and reward are biologically linked to specific chemicals in the brain. An example is dopamine, that carries messages to areas of the brain, which then signal the rest of the body to respond.
Using brain mapping, researchers find that “go-getters” have high dopamine levels in areas of the brain that affect motivation and reward. In comparison, people who are laid-back show high dopamine levels in different areas of the brain.

Goal-setting and developing a healthy lifestyle

Goal-setting is an important strategy to change our own behaviour. By changing our motivation levels, we can set goals to motivate ourselves. These goals should be sufficiently challenging but not unattainable, and specific. Having a specific goal will help in making deliberate plans for reaching these goals and help you stay motivated.

How to be motivated

Many start out strong when achieving their goals. However, many of them fall by the wayside over time. Changing a specific behaviour requires the individual to be intentional about the change he/ she is making. Reminding ourselves of the reasons why we got started is one helpful way.
While high levels of motivation typically lead to better outcomes, overconfidence can lead to unrealistic goals, which lowers motivation when they are not achieved.

Motivation and reward

For young people, it is best if motivation can be internalised. If extrinsic motivators (such as money) are offered in a controlling manner, it can decrease motivation. But if extrinsic motivators are offered in a way that promotes choice or increases the responsibility of decision-making, these external demands can be transformed into personal goals and values.

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