Understanding How Motivation Helps in Achieving Goals

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Motivation is born from desire—the need to accomplish a goal or complete a task you really want to do. It’s individual and internal. While external reward systems can provide a momentary boost for motivation, the long-lasting, effective type of motivation comes from within. Only you truly understand what you want to achieve and why.

There are, of course, forms of external (extrinsic) motivation: the opportunity to gain praise from others, more money or a promotion at work, or winning recognition from a professional organization can all provide motivation. Research has found, however, that internal (intrinsic) motivation is longer lasting and ultimately more powerful than external rewards. Self-selected rewards doled out for small victories can be very effective in maintaining the momentum that is so necessary to sustain motivation.

Motivation Helps Clarify and Prioritize Goals

When you feel motivated toward a goal that you’ve set for yourself, setting priorities and managing your time become easier. Distractions are easier to deflect. Your inherent curiosity and desire take over when you are working toward a desired goal, and you can experience “flow,” that sense of quiet self-confidence, control, and autonomy that gets you through long hours at the laptop or in the lab.

Motivation Energizes You

Everyone has low days when they just don’t feel like getting out of bed, much less grinding away at a project that seems stalled or never-ending. Motivation is that internal force that keeps you focused on your goal and what you need to do to get there. Whether it is starting a workout program, starting a business, or writing a book, a focus on your ultimate goal can provide the energy you need to power through the off days and make progress.

Motivation Inspires Others

There’s always that one person at work or in your social circle who is relentlessly upbeat, able to overcome any obstacle in their path, and inspires you to do better (even if you find their perpetual optimism and positivity a little annoying). Motivation is contagious. “They can do it, so why can’t I?” you think. Inspiration and clear goals are necessary to maintain motivation.

Motivation is the motor behind achievement, happiness, and a sense of self-worth and confidence. Write down and prioritize your goals. Choosing unrealistic goals can deflate motivation, so focus on achieving small, interim goals first that forward your progress toward your more ambitious goals. Maintain a sense of control over your own progress, and devise rewards from your own sense of accomplishment, rather than by striving for external recognition. You’ll find you have more energy and focus—and less stress—if you feel in charge of doing what you need to do to reach your desired result. You’ll experience for yourself the importance of motivation in achieving your goals and might inspire others to reach for theirs along the way.

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