What is motivation? Can it be developed? How can you lose it and how does it return? According to the Oxford Living Dictionary, motivation is the “desire or willingness to do something”. Motivation provides one with an incentive or reason to take action. Sometimes motivation is easily accessible to us, while at other times, it can be elusive. Understanding how you are motivated can help you to find more energy to act when your motivation is low. There are two classifications of motivation: Approach and Avoidance. Like yin and yang, the two types of motivation are defined by their type of energy input.
The yang is the energized and positive pressure that pushes one to strive toward a goal. This type is active and encourages one to keep moving forward, invoking feelings of opportunity, productivity, and boldness. Applying for a new job or promotion in order to advance one’s career is an example of Approach motivation.
If you are an extrovert, Approach motivation may be the mentality for you. People who enjoy positive engagement with others and tend to be swept up in passionate pursuits can often be energized in this way.
The yin to Approach motivation because it is passive. With Avoidance motivation, one moves forward toward a goal by eliminating bad habits or negative behaviors that prevent progress. For example, when trying to lose weight you would avoid eating between meals in order to lower consumed calories.
If you are an introvert, you may have a tendency to react stronger to stressful situations. Fear plays a role in everyone’s life at one point or another. If you work well with Avoidance motivation you can use this to your advantage, turning negativity into positive change.
Applying Motivation to Your Life
How do you use both styles of motivation to reach your goals? First, be sure to understand the difference between Approach and Avoidance motivation. Then, set concise, actionable goals in order to determine what to do (Approach) and not do (Avoidance) to accomplish the goals.
Goals & Motivation
Goals and motivation go hand-in-hand. In fact, one should flow seamlessly into the other, and how you address one will directly impact the effect of the other.
You may have a goal of, for example, learning more about the marketing aspect of your business. An Approach to motivation would center on personal financial rewards, the joy of learning something new, and the happiness of knowing you will help colleagues. To complement this approach, link your sub-goals to your motivation. If you plan to read three books on marketing this month, write out exactly how each will benefit you and your business.
The idea is to be connected to your motivation every step of the way. Don’t be afraid to modify your motivation as you continue to learn more. That will ensure that it’s relevant to you in your current position.
Alternatively, to pair your goal with Avoidance motivation, you will need to reflect on your current life and where you are heading, in terms of undesirable outcomes. Take the previous example of increasing your marketing knowledge. You will benefit from thinking and writing about the consequences of maintaining your current routine. Take note of feelings of worry surrounding money and any lack of enthusiasm for your career. Understand that if you are not actively changing for the better, positive change is not likely to enter your life.
Motivation is a complex and ever-changing phenomenon. You may feel motivated by one thing one week, a different thing another week, and that’s OK. Just be organized and mindful in your approach. Experiment with both Avoidance and Approach motivations. Don’t forget to be specific about your goals and how they connect with your motivation. One way or another, it’s your feelings that will motivate you and bring you to the place you need to be.