Where are we missing it? | The Theory of Motivation

A 21 years old regular guy John is planning to hit the gym for last 3 months. Sensing the lack of motivation, he goes through some of the workout motivation videos on YouTube. He feels a rush of blood through his brain seeing the big muscles flexing in sweat and in no time it triggers to him that he can achieve the same.
Next day he gets up at 6 in morning, hits the gym and returns in sweat. This continues for another 4 days. From 5th day, he starts having the same old demotivated feelings and finds himself difficult to wake up early in morning. He looks in the mirror at his bare body and finds no improvement. Gradually he gives up and stops training his body. 

Sounds familiar?
What is that John was missing out? He had watched significant number of workout and motivational videos, gathered all the necessary information on diet, workout routines etc. Everything went smooth for the first 4 days. What really happened from the 5th day?
John was motivated, yes, but it was Extrinsic motivation.
Extrinsic motivation works better during the beginning stage when we start something new but starts to fall out as time passes by.
So now the question is how to stay motivated for a longer period, to be precise, ALWAYS. 
What's wrong?
Let me explain the reason behind the short term motivation John and most of us are victims of.

1. Impatience - Desire of an early reward

Most of us get a good start when we have just begun with something new but fail to keep up with our goals. One of the most common reason is the desire of an early reward. 
We see big muscles in workout videos and wish to have the same. We train for a couple of weeks, waiting the big muscles to pop up, when we don't see a significant result, we quit. 

2. False sense of completion of work
While we are watching workout or any motivational video or attending a motivational seminar of some renowned versatile speaker, our mind tricks us into achievement of a partial completion of our goals and we keep focusing on the goal rather than the process required to achieve them.  Having a clear visualization of the goal is important, but visualization of the goal alone on an everyday basis is fatal if not accompanied by the process.

3. Motivation Distraction
Motivation itself can be a distraction too. Sounds meh? Let me explain this to you using an example.

Two groups of students were given a task to hit as many keys on a keyboard they can in a minute and were announced to be awarded with 100$ and 1$ respectively whoever in group did the most number of hits. The group with the 100$ dollar award performed way better than the one awarded 1$ for the same task.
Next, the two groups were given a task to solve complex mathematical questions for the same award money. Surprisingly, this time the 1$ awarded group performed better than the one awarded with 100$. 

What do we learn from the example? Higher reward as a motivation works well when we are given simple tasks not involving our patience and much understanding. This fails when we are given tasks that involves logical reasoning, creativity and problem solving because then the economic and emotional pressure causes our focus to shift from the task to the motivator.

4. Setting Impossible Goals

We watch a motivational video and soon feel an unstoppable urge to do achieve something which is not possible for a while, viz. you can not loose 20 pounds of weight in a week. We set goals which we have been thinking for  a while and we set a strict timeline which is impossible to meet. Then we start off with the process but soon get demotivated because it starts taking longer time than we expected. And we quit.

What should be done?

So the question now you would ask is: Is motivation irrelevant to achieving our goals? Or should we stop getting motivated and only focus on our goals?

The answer to this is Absolutely Not! Motivation is the key factor that drives us to achieve impossibles. It's extremely important to stay motivated for any short term or long term goal we plan to achieve.

Here's what you can do.

1. Get Real

Do not set impossible and non-achievable goals or achievable goals but in a very limited time and resource. Divide the goals into Short term and Long term and plan accordingly.

2. Starting with small

If you have a big goal to achieve or task to complete, try to break it down into smaller pieces. Larger task and longer to-do list may make you feel overwhelmed and require higher activation energy for you to get started. 

3.  It is meant to be difficult, else everyone would do it.

It is easier to start a venture when we are inspired and motivated, however to succeed, we need to follow our schedule even if we don't feel like it. It is tough in beginning but becomes a habit eventually. 

Winning is not a sometime thing; it's an all the time thing. You don't win once in a while... you don't do things right once in a while... you do them right all the time. Winning is habit.
--Vince Lombardi

 If you look at the schedule of top athletes in the all kinds of sports and famous performers in the entertainment industry, they have fixed schedule for their works, their studies, their training, and even their rest.

4. Keeping track of the Progress, Process and not just Goals.

We often feel excited when we see someone losing 20 pounds or have completed a PhD degree. Though we do fail or we don't care to see the hard work, the consistency and the patience in achieving them. 
One other reason we tend to focus more on outcomes is because they are obvious and easily measured. To shift our focus to the process and progress, we should make our work measurable. 

The most important of all, do only those things which you are really interested to not just for some external rewards.

Motivated Enough?