All my childhood, I studied hard and got good grades because I was motivated to escape my mother’s disappointment and wrath on failure. Others in my class were motivated by their desire to excel and get into a good college. Still, others were doing it to maintain their social status and to be recognized as excellent students. The word “motivation” holds a different meaning for different people, as what motivates you may not be sufficient for me and vice versa.
Let’s dig deeper into what the term means.
What is Motivation?
The word motivation has been derived from the word “motive,” which means the human need that needs to be fulfilled to achieve satisfaction. This need can be acquired over time through the elements that surround people, such as the kind of culture, lifestyle, or the kind of environment that is around them.
Motivation is a diverse and varied concept because human beings are diverse and varied themselves. Generally, motivation is a repetitive behavior, something that helps keep us going. It is the driving force that builds within us to take on challenges.
Unsurprisingly, the concept of motivation has been of interest to sociologists and psychologists alike. Research in multiple fields, including business, psychology, and sociology, has tried to explain the concept of motivation in terms of human behavior.
“People Who Are Crazy Enough To Think They Can Change The World, Are The Ones Who Do.” – Rob Siltanen
What is Social Motivation?
Social motivation refers to the human need to connect with each other and their desire to be able to be accepted by each other. Humans are not meant to live on their own, because they are supposed to coexist with others, and the need to interact with each other is what sets the basis of social motivation.
In this article, we will explain the concept of motivation in sociology. We will explain it with the help of different theories presented by psychologists and sociologists to understand human motivation and its sources.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
According to Abraham Maslow, a person’s motivation depends on his need level. His hierarchy of needs took a pyramidic shape where the lowest rung makes up the most basic level needs, and they keep moving upwards. Given below is the hierarchy of needs presented by Maslow.
- Physiological needs: These are the basic survival needs of humans, such as food, water, and a place to live. Once these needs are fulfilled, humans move on to the second phase, which brings us to the second stage of the hierarchy.
- Safety: The second most important human need is that of safety. It is human nature to protect themselves from any danger or anything that is a threat to them. Therefore, when humans are at this need level, they can be motivated by providing safety for themselves and their families.
- Social needs: When the first two needs are fulfilled, humans look for relationships in which they feel as if they belong somewhere, and they are loved.
- Self-esteem: All humans have self-esteem and dignity — they need to be respected and recognized as an important element that plays a role in human motivation.
- Self-Actualization: The last level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is self-actualization. This is an opportunity for humans to develop and learn. It is the greatest level that humans can achieve. Once humans reach this level, they can only be motivated by their yearning for learning.
“Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.” – Abraham Maslow
McClelland’s Theory of Needs
The second theory we will be discussing is McClelland’s theory of needs. This theory is based on three motivating drivers.
According to McClelland, a sense of achievement helps motivate people to achieve greater things in life. Achievement is basically the feeling that humans feel when they accomplish tasks. People who aim for achievement are looking for tasks that would help them grow personally, and they receive their due recognition as soon as possible.
As humans, we all seek the need to feel like we belong somewhere and be socially accepted. Those people who seek affiliation are motivated when they are accepted in society. It drives them to work harder and achieve more. Such people are also happier when they are in social gatherings, and they want to avoid any conflicts with others.
The third driving factor is authority; some of us are motivated by the desire to be in a position of power. Those people who desire power are constantly looking for situations in which they would be able to exercise their authority. They seek situations or jobs in which they would be in a position of authority, which motivates them.
Let’s take the simple example of house cleanliness; some people are motivated to keep their houses clean because they feel a sense of achievement in maintaining a clean house. On the other hand, some may maintain cleanliness because it allows them to connect with their friends and peers. While others maintain a spick and span home so they can maintain control and power among their peers.
Herzberg’s Motivation Theory
This theory of motivation is based on two factors: motivators and hygiene factors. These two factors are motivators that motivate people to work harder.
These factors ensure people don’t get dissatisfied. They are not a part of the job, but they make the job preferrable. Examples include the working conditions and cleanliness of an office. Does the company follow safety protocols? Is there enough lighting on the premise? Is there enough space in the office for the worker to be productive?
These are factors that keep employees motivated. These can be different for different people, such as achievement, recognition, responsibility, or growth.
Implications of Social Motivation in our Daily Life
Applying the science of motivation in our daily lives can help improve performance at workplaces and even at our homes. Yes, many factors help people achieve happiness, but motivation is one of the biggest factors. Motivated human beings are more result-oriented and have clearer goals in life. A happy and balanced lifestyle may be maintained through the right amount of extrinsic and intrinsic motivating factors, as discussed in the theories above.
There are indeed different motivation factors for different people. No matter how many explanations there are, there will always be certain areas that are not yet covered since every human is different. There is still a vast amount of research being carried out on the subject to figure out human psychology in an in-depth manner.
As a leader, it is important to ensure that all the people working in the team are motivated. The motivation theories above give an insight into human psychology; managers and leaders can use these theories and motivating factors to motivate their employees according to their personality.
What motivates you in life? Share your thoughts with us below!
How to Stay Motivated to Achieve Your Goals
Time is the raw material of our lives. How we choose to spend it, shapes our life accordingly. So having the motivation to spend it on achieving goals is crucial to creating a life we want.
What is Motivation?
The Oxford dictionary defines motivation as the desire or willingness to do something – our drive to take action.
Scientifically, motivation has its roots in the dopamine pathways of our brains. When we do something that feels good, that’s dopamine kicking in. Our actions are driven by the desire for that reward (the good feeling).
Author Steven Pressfield describes motivation more practically. He says we hit a point where the pain of not doing something becomes greater than the pain of doing it. He sees motivation as crossing the threshold where it’s easier to take action than it is to be idle. Like choosing to feel awkward while making sales calls over feeling disappointed about a diminishing bank account.
However you choose to think about it, we all want to harness motivation to achieve our goals.
How to Get Motivated
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says that most people misunderstand motivation. They think that motivation is what gets us to take action. In reality, motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Once we start a task, it’s easier to continue making progress. Like Isaac Newton’s first law: objects in motion stay in motion.
This means most of the resistance when working on your goals comes right before we start. Since motivation naturally occurs after we start, we need to focus on making starting easier.
4 Ways to Make Starting Easier
1. Schedule it
One reason people can’t get started on things is that they haven’t planned when to do it.
When things aren’t scheduled it’s easier for them to fall by the wayside. You’ll end up hoping motivation falls in your lap or hoping that you’ll muster enough willpower to get it done.
An article in the Guardian said, “If you waste resources trying to decide when or where to work, you’ll impede your capacity to do the work.”
2. Measure something
It’s easy to feel uninspired when you don’t know if you’re making progress or what you’re even working towards. That’s why you need to make your success measurable in some way. Starting is easy when you know exactly how much closer your current actions will bring you to achieving your goal.
3. Extrinsic motivation
This type of motivation is from external factors. It can be either positive or negative. Positive motivation consists of incentives like money, prizes, and grades. Negative motivation consists of deterrents like being fired, having a fight, or being fined. Extrinsic motivation doesn’t work effectively long-term, but it can work well in the short term to get you started on something.
4. Make it public
Keep yourself accountable by telling friends and family your goals, or even sharing them on social media. This makes it easier to start something because you’re pressured to not let others down.
How to Stay Motivated Long Term
When we say we want to feel motivated to do something, we don’t want to be pushed or guilted into doing a task. We want to be so attracted and drawn to the idea that we can’t resist not taking action. That’s why it’s important to build a foundation that will set you up for consistency.
These are 5 techniques that will help you do just that:
1. Stay in your goldilocks zone
The goldilocks zone is when a task is the perfect level of difficulty—not too hard and not too easy. In this zone, we reach peak motivation and focus.
For example, let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against a 4-year-old. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become bored and not want to play. Now let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against Serena Williams. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become demotivated because the match is too challenging.
The Goldilocks zone is in the middle of that spectrum. You want to face someone with equal skill as you. That way you have a chance to win, but you have to focus and try for it. Adjusting your workload and goals over time to stay within your Goldilocks zone keeps you engaged and motivated long-term.
2. Pursue intrinsically motivated goals
Being intrinsically motivated to achieve a goal is when you want to achieve it for what it is. There are no external factors like a reward or the risk of being fired. The drive behind your actions is coming from within.
For most intrinsic goals we pursue them because they will enrich our lives or bring us closer to fulfillment. That makes these goals extremely sustainable long-term because they directly affect our quality of life and the things we care about.
3. Use “chunking”
Chunking is the technique of breaking down a goal into smaller short-term targets. By doing this you achieve multiple successes in your pursuit of the main goal. This triggers the brain’s reward system and drives you to keep going.
Traditionally, you may set a goal that you expect to achieve in one year. That’s a long time to commit without seeing any results along the way. By chunking your goals into monthly or quarterly targets, you get the consistent positive reinforcement you need to stay motivated long-term.
For example, instead of trying to lose 50 pounds in one year, try to lose 4 pounds every month for 12 months.
4. Be flexible
We’re all victims of circumstance. Things happen along our journey that we can either adjust to or quit because of. That’s why it’s important to have leeway and flexibility when you’re pursuing a goal. If you expect everything to go perfectly, the inevitable failure can make you disengaged and desireless. When you plan for things to go wrong, you make sure you can keep up for the long haul.
5. Pursue your goals in a sustainable fashion
Don’t lose hope when you’re not an overnight success. Overnight successes are the 1%—for the most part, they don’t exist. What we see as an “overnight success” is actually countless hours of work behind the scenes finally hitting a tipping point. Pursuing goals is a story of patience, persistence, and unseen effort.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is a recipe for a drop in self-confidence and satisfaction. It also cultivates a mindset where you think you haven’t done enough. As a result, you may raise your expectations and put more pressure on yourself.
This is pointless because things worth achieving take time. So we obviously won’t compare to the things around us when starting.
Mastering motivation is a superpower. With that ability at your fingertips, you can accomplish your goals and shape a life you want to live in.
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