Friday, December 11, 2009

A Bad Motivator

"Uncle Owen, this R2 unit has a bad motivator!"

This is my favorite Star Wars quote.  Every time I hear it, and I mean every time, I answer back -- "Me, too!"

Wouldn't it be nice if we were like R2 units and could simply be fitted with a new motivator?  I think that would be awesome!  Okay, they don't travel over bumpy surfaces well and there's the whole 'no arms' thing (until the new movies came out).  Plus, very few people have any idea what they are saying.  So there would be drawbacks.  But a new motivator?  Sure sounds nice.

A discussion of motivation could be seemingly endless.  So, of course, I'm going to try to do it in a few paragraphs.

Any study of motivation will lead you to the ideas of intrinsic versus extrinsic.  Internally versus externally motivated.  Being internally motivated seems to be the psychological higher goal.  I study because I love learning.  I workout because I enjoy it.  I serve because I believe it is the right thing and it makes me feel good.  However, most of our society seems to be based on external motivation.  I study to get good grades.  I workout so that others will find me attractive.  I serve so that people will think I am a good person and praise me.

I don't want to talk about whether one is better than the other.  I can't imagine raising children without using external motivation.  But I do hope to guide them toward internal motivation.  And I don't think most people would go to work every day without the promise of a paycheck.  I think both are necessary and natural.

But one thing that seems to show up in all motivation is some type of reward.  Internal or external.  Maybe the reward is simply a feeling of pride in a job well done.  Maybe it's a pay raise.

So what about when I am in charge of the goals and the rewards for myself?  How do I motivate myself to do things that I don't want to do when the reward is long term or not enough to offset the work?  When I'm having a really bad day, how do I find the motivation to push through and do the things that need to be done?

I wish I could throw out a great outline for conquering these issues.  I wish I could say that after much pondering I've figured it all out, that I know how to stay on task and motivated all the time.

But I don't have the answer.  I'm still pondering.  And just to make things more confusing, I am also pondering on the idea that staying on task isn't all it's cracked up to be and questioning whose expectations really govern my life.  It's quite the conundrum.

1 comment:

Kazzy said...

Yeah, whose expectations are going to govern us? That is a good question. The ultimate answer would be "my own expectations."

Maybe this is why I set timers for myself all the time. 30 minutes to clean the! 45 minutes to do my homework for my Assessments! And I even promise myself rewards when I stay on task. Yeah, sometimes it is all about the external.