Have you ever heard of “If-then” rewards and punishments? Well if that’s the case then good for you! Get it? That was a joke in case you were wondering.
“If then” is a motivational tool. The tool tells us that “if” you do something, “then” something will happen as a result. Such as, if you clean the dishes, then you can watch TV before bed. It’s a very simple concept and it can certainly be used to motivate in some situations. However, the problem is that “if then” has somehow become the major motivating strategy in society.
“If then” establishes clear rewards or punishments for action or inaction. However, it also has a tendency to create less than desirable outcomes. How so you may ask? Well, if you only do things because you know you will be either rewarded or punished, what happens where there is no reward or punishment? Aren’t you simply responding to external danger or pleasure rather than to your internal calling?
“If-then” rewards also encourage unethical behaviour (like achieving the desired objectives using questionable actions such as stealing or cheating), create addictions (like believing that if I do something I should be rewarded at all times otherwise I’m not going to do it) and foster short term thinking (like I’m just aiming for this goal alone and not worrying about any other consequences of achieving this target).
Your motivation is not, and should not, be about fear of punishment or the pleasure of a reward. You are not the family pet – you have a more sophisticated brain than that! Motivation is something that comes from within and compels you to action. Everyone knows what real motivation feels like – the feeling of being unstoppable in your ambition. But how do you find this?
Behavioural scientists Harry Harlow and Edward Deci identified the true formula for motivation. They found that the motivation formula is = Autonomy + Mastery + Purpose.
Their research identified that the secret to high levels of performance is actually our deep seated desire to direct our own lives and be in charge of what we do with our time and how we do it (our desire for autonomy), to extend and expand our capabilities and the urge we have to get better and better at something that really matters to (our desire for mastery), and the longing to do things in the service of something larger than ourselves (our desire for purpose).
If you honestly and objectively look at the three elements that create motivation and assess how closely they align with your life, it may become quite clear why you don’t feel motivated. If you aren’t in control, if you’re not taking charge, if you’re spending your time doing things that don’t inspire you, if you’re not learning and expanding your capabilities and improving yourself each day – you simply won’t feel motivated. It’s not possible. It breaks every rule of motivation. So honestly assess where your life is and you will find your answer. Good luck!
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Author: Lachlan HaynesThis author has published 2 articles so far.