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Motivation is made up of all the factors that cause people to behave the way they do. Self-motivation is most often demonstrated by athletes, who enjoy sports out of the sheer love of the game. To determine the basis of their attachment to a sport, they must first ask themselves: ‘Are you doing this for your coach or for yourself?’ If they are not doing it for self, commitment falters and goals will be hard to reach.
How do people remain motivated and confident, especially after a streak of bad outcomes? Some researchers have offered a formula for success that posits that champions get what they want because they know what they want. In an evocative article, one such champion – poker player Felix ‘xflixx’ Schneiders – provides a prescription on how to reach a state of confidence, motivation, and happiness before performing a task.
Extrinsic rewards – that is, rewards for performance that come from outside – do not help with self-motivation. Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, comes from within and is rooted in a desire to be the best and in control of self.
Intrinsically-motivated athletes are more likely to maintain optimum levels of performance in competition. The great Michael Jordan, for example, finished his stellar career with six NBA titles. He did not let being cut from his first basketball team, the death of his father, or his failure at pro baseball stop him. He turned plans into action, which is the key component of intrinsic motivation. The most successful athletes focus on what makes them excited about the game; they might play sports to be with friends, for the team aspect, or for the thrill of the competition. The latter is called ‘achievement motivation’.
Motivation in sports has to be maintained. You have to work through pain, fatigue and the desire to do other things. Motivation also affects the essentials that go into performance, namely, mental preparation, diet, physical conditioning, and interactions with others.
There are some things that can thwart motivation; negative feelings like impatience, envy, and ingratitude can cannibalise our efforts. Inaction, loss of meaning, and feelings of being overwhelmed also cripple self-motivation. There are strategies you can implement to do the right thing when confronted with motivation to do the wrong thing.
Identify the things you are grateful for. Feelings of gratitude grow when you start to put on paper what you are thankful for.
Try building a list of 20 items, and then suddenly your situation doesn’t appear as bad as you thought it was. Another tool to keep motivated is to read books, watch videos, read articles, and do things that make you reflect on whom and what you aspire to become: the champion.
Meet new people and go to new events. Focus on the great feeling you will experience after you know that you have won: the adrenaline rush, relief after completing the task, pride and confidence. As an athlete, setting goals allows you to get past pain and other hurdles because you are determined to maintain your efforts and maximise your abilities.
Each person should try to look for inspiration every day, no matter how intrinsically-driven they are. The main ingredient in motivation is setting goals to achieve your ambitions. Look around for all sources of inspiration in order to remain motivated every single day. Avoid all toxic behaviours that can put obstacles in your way and cause you to lose your footing on the track towards success.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. He is also the editor-in-chief of Psychreg Journal Psychology, and writes a weekly column for Free Malaysia Today.
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