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A Psychological Approach to Motivation

One reason why leadership is important in business is that it can help us with motivation. Coaching can help us with motivating ourselves.

Are you a "should" person?

I should do this, I should do that.

I should get thinner. I should spend more time with my family. I should get a new job. I should exercise more.

Should, should, should, should, should, should, should, like a constant nagging feeling in your chest.

We all do this to some extent, but often thinking like this does not motivate us to do anything at all, it simply makes us feel guilty.

And guilt is a wasted emotion.

Part of the problem here is very deep rooted. It has it's origins in why we have these goals at all. Understanding this can help us to set better goals and to be more motivated to achieve them.

Take "I should get thinner" as a good example that many of us can relate to. If you question (honestly) the reasons why we have this thought you might say things like:

  • My best friend is looking thinner than me.

  • I'm worried my partner won't love me.

  • My mum always said I looked fat.

  • I feel jealous of skinny people.

What all of those motivations have in common is that they are "controlled". They are compelled by reasons of guilt, anxiety or social approval. That's where the "should" comes in.

We are far more likely to follow through on a goal (or to stay motivated to do something) when it is "autonomous". That is, when the thought is coming from our values or from an understanding of our core identity.

This is why, in my coaching practice, one of the first conversations I always have with clients is about values. Once you know yourself deeply, your true motivations become evident and you can set yourself goals that you're genuinely motivated to achieve.

If you do this, you might realise that you like feeling thinner and you like running. So you'll start to work towards a new exercise plan.

But, if you don't, you won't feel guilty about it. And that's an achievement in itself.

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