Slow Down Motivation


Being motivated equals the ability to achieve goals and completing tasks faster. Business leaders chase better results and need even more “motivated” employees. And the motivated employees provide even better results on paper. Motivation does not work as easy as we expect it to do. Have you tried dieting? Learning a new language? It is hard, and most likely you will fail. Motivational coaches are being brought in to provide more motivation and better results. It might work, but you need to know motivation is also about failure and resistance.

Motivational factors

Motivation is a multidimensional phenomenon. It is driven by inner motivation, extrinsic motivation and ego oriented motivation. It is also determined by your level of optimism and level of pessimism. On top of this we need to add knowledge and even support, influence and inspiration from your surroundings (environmental factor)

Positive Intrinsic Motivation

Positive intrinsic motivation is related to the will. “I want this” – Have you ever really wanted something and got it? Well this is the positive inner will. This is the main factor why people succeed and one of the most important drives. You really want it, but there are more factors to consider if you will succeed or not.

Negative Intrinsic Motivation

This is where you will do it, but really don’t want to. It is a compliant mode where you kind of do what you are told because you are formed this way. It is not fun, but you will get the job done.

Positive Extrinsic Motivation

Alright, this one is where you get paid or other benefits. This is a short termed motivational factor that is driven by a prize. It is good for the short run, but for the long run you need to move your motivation to positive intrinsic… There have been research on this topic, but we do not need a deep report to prove this point. Consider you are doing your job at 80 %, you suddenly get a $1000 extra to do your job 100 % per month for six months. And they remove the bonus you have been accustomed to, what do you think will be your effort percentage at work after the prize is gone?

Negative Extrinsic Motivation

If there is no price, there will be punishment. This is the fear motivational factor. You are driven by fear of losing your job or to be punished. Do it or you will lose your bonus, or get fired.
– These four factors are from Why Motivation by Pizza doesn’t work

So what is Ego Driven Motivation?

Isn’t Intrinsic Motivation an ego driven factor? No it is not. You can be altruistic. Some claim that even an altruistic drive is ego driven because you want to become a saint, a good father, a good member of society. But this is not what I mean about the ego drive. This is your level or ability to prioritize you in front of other. You want to get an education and you study at evenings, leaving your family, kids and friends out in the cold. The ego factor is how much you are willing to sacrifice to reach your goal. Your spouse brings home a lot of candy and two movies, expecting snuggling in front of the TV, your ego drive will disappoint the other and you will go to the gym all night. Working late hours and coming home to cold dinner is the result of a strong ego drive.

The optimistic vs. pessimistic view on life

Even more dimensions to motivation surfaces here. In good times you will have optimistic or pessimistic personality traits. In bad times you can also have optimistic and pessimistic traits. But there is more. You will also possess a ability of duration, how long will you be pessimistic? Is it never ending doomsday when you fail (pessimistic)? Or will it pass (optimistic)? Is your fortune time limited (pessimistic)? Or is fortune continuity in your life (Optimistic)? And there is one more dimension as well; does it spread? Is everything going bad when you fail a task? Is it affecting family life when work sucks? Is your work suffering when you got trouble at home? (1)

You can take a optimist/pessimist test here

(1) source: Dr. Martin Seligman’s book, “Learned Optimism”

Knowledge is a source of motivation

If I only knew, what I know today, ten years ago, I would do a lot of things different. Knowledge provides you with what is possible to do. What are your options? You will not try an option if you do not know about the option at hand. If you know what works you will try it. If you know a lot in your field it will be easier to get motivated and succeed. Education and studying is a key to know how to succeed. This is the map that will tell you how. You might stumble upon a solution that works, this is how you gain knowledge.

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

Environmental factors

I have trouble identifying motivation to genes. But there will be a bunch of support from parents, friends, spouses, fans and so on. It is a known fact that kids pick education upon the choice of friends and family. It is also known that some people are keeping you down, and some are supporting. You might be inspired by some people; you are influenced by other people. If I would follow the advice from my parents, I would be a fisherman by now. I might be very happy, I might make more money…but I hate to put my feet on floating objects. So if anybody is unmotivated at work? Could it be environmental factors?

Working with goals.

This is also a factor, or a trap at motivation as I like to call it. All your skills and motivation are being tested when you work with goals. My approach is to identify the goal as a vision and leave it there, just to focus on the way. If you want to be an athletic champion you will fail if you set your goal on olympic gold. You will fail if you set your goal on becoming the next CEO on your company. You need to work with the way, because you will fail and fail again before you eventually get close to your vision. But this is still the way you are headed. If you can learn from failures, identify what needs to be done to get back on track and enjoy the trip, you might not become an olympic winner, but chances are that you might become a national or local champion on your way. But if you connect failure with not being able to reach your goal, you are being trapped. I am still trying to lose weight, but I did not lose a fly’s weight in space after ten days with intensive exercising, and I am not been exercising the last 14 days. Still I am not failing to lose weight I am merely figuring out how to reduce the time between exercising moments.

So how can you possibly be motivated?

Chances are that you do not match all the necessary factors to succeed. This is why I cannot connect motivation and success to genes, because you can change and influence these factors. And they are all connected somehow. To be highly motivated you need to sit down and evaluate what factors need to be changed. You need to know what is holding you back. You will not manage only on strong positive intrinsic will, if you lack the necessary ego drive and support in your environmental factor. Still you might need knowledge to know how to succeed, unless you want to fail and try over? You can even change your pessimistic view on life and learn to be an optimist. I am actually a moderate pessimistic person, because I possess the ability to stay very optimistic if things work as planned. But if I get a punch in my face, it might bring me down all over the place, and it takes a while to bounce back (pessimistic). Still I know that I can change my view, and so can you. Slow down, relax, analyze, seek help, and do not rush it. There is more to motivation than just a pep talk or a prize. – Good luck.

I am sure that you might be able to identify what is holding you back from being top motivated. – You are amazing and you can do it.

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4 Comments on "Slow Down Motivation"

  1. Frode Heimen | June 8, 2010 at 6:43 pm |

    Hi David. Thanks for returning to my blog.
    I got to check out that book, thank you for the tip. Please do provide a link to your podcast!
    btw: Seems like real comments get’s into my hyper sensitive spam filter, so sorry if your comments do not show up instantly.


  2. Frode Heimen | June 8, 2010 at 6:35 pm |

    Hi Ivan.
    “Motivation is a marathon, not a sprint.” Like it 🙂

  3. Great summary of motivational topics. Have you checked out Daniel Pink’s new book. He highlights the recent findings on motivation in creative tasks. Good stuff. I did an interview with him on my podcast a few months ago. Great author.

  4. Painfully true. As with any other worthwhile endeavor we’re always looking for the easy fix. This is why I’m against quick and sparse motivational talks at work or school. Sure you come out of those feeling like a million bucks but there’s no follow-up, no regime or plan. Motivation is a marathon, not a sprint.

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