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Article: Motivation: A Simplified Consideration Related Resources

Motivation: A Simplified Consideration

© 1989, C.S. Clarke, Ph.D.



To make it simple, motivation is the reward that you get for what you do. There are two reasons for taking a look at motivations: (1) to analyze behavior and (2) to change behavior.

If you want to know why you did something, the easiest way to find out is to ask yourself what you got for what you did. This is especially useful in examining habits. (Remember this: what you got may not be what you think you want, but if you keep getting it, it is rewarding in some way.)

If you want to change behavior (yours or someone else's), you need to know what rewards will support the target behavior and make a strategic plan.

A reward (motivator) can be:

* something desirable
* relief from something undesirable
* avoidance of something undesirable
* reward package: more than one reward (as above) as consequences or a combination of rewards and disincentives wherein the rewards outweigh the disincentives.

Anti-Motivators (Disincentives) include:

* lack of reward consequences -- you don't get anything for what you do
* lack of contiguity-- you get a reward, but it is so long after the action rewarded that you don't make a clear connection.
* lack of consistency--sometimes you get a reward, sometimes you don't, and sometimes you get punished.
* punishment-- you get something you don't want, usually unpleasant. This is a difficult area, because what is punishing to one person isn't to another. You may think a bowl of lime Jello-O¨ is a reward, but to someone who hates gelatin, it's a punishment. Be careful. Also, the absence of an expected or desired reward can be a punishment. For example, while money is a primary motivator for good work, it is usually not the sole motivator. Most of us work for other rewards in addition to the money -- like recognition, praise and respect. When we don't get them, no matter how much money is forthcoming, we feel deprived. Unmotivated. Punished.
* reward/punishment "packages": the disincentives are so great they cancel the value of the incentives.

Hidden Agendas are mistaken motivators.

Sometimes you think you are trying to do one thing but keep achieving another. So, you must want what you are getting. You always get what you want, on one level or another. You just have a "hidden agenda."

Thinking you intend to do something, even carefully planning to do it, is no guarantee that you have it as a higher priority over something else you desire but have tried to put aside. If you keep getting the same unplanned results in the face of repeated attempts at a goal, you'd better make sure that you take care of the higher priority need that your results are showing you. For example, Carole Hyatt, in her book, The Women's Selling Game , tells how she thought she was trying to make sales but kept getting dates instead.

Take responsibility for other's reactions to you when you keep getting the same reactions again and again in the same circumstances. That experience means that you are doing something to inspire that reaction. If you don't want to inspire that reaction, find out what you're doing and stop it.

OK, So if you want to motivate a behavior, there has to be a reward for the behavior, and if there are any disincentives attached to the behavior, the reward(s) must outweigh the disincentives.

Now, there are things you need to know to plan your motivational approach to establishing new behavior or changing old behaviors. The following list is written for complex goals that require more than one new behavior or change of behaviors, but you will understand that the same questions can be slightly rephrased to plan the change of one simple behavior change or new behavior performance. E.G. Instead of "What goal do you want to accomplish?", ask "What behavior do you want to change?" or "What new behavior do you want to establish?"

* What goal do you want to accomplish?
* What will you get when you achieve that goal?
* What discrete steps (behaviors) are necessary to accomplish your goal.
* What do you get for each step (behavior)?
* Do you need to get something for each of these behaviors or are some of them rewarding in themselves?
* Is this are any of these behaviors unpleasant? Do any require a great deal of effort?
* What has gotten you to do each of these behaviors in the past?
* What hidden agendas have interfered in these behaviors in the past?
* If you haven't done one or more of these behaviors before, what have you done that is similar?
* Would the rewards of similar past behaviors be satisfactory for the new behaviors?
* What do you imagine would be satisfactory rewards for each of the new behaviors?
* Can you get the rewards that you believe would motivate the behaviors you need?
* If not, can your goal be accomplished with alternative behaviors?
* Using the answers to the foregoing questions, outline a plan to achieve your goal.

Book to Read: How to Get Yourself to Do What You Want to Do, Paul Wood, M.D.
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