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Photo Credit: Ian Schneider
Have you ever noticed that as soon as you set a goal, particularly those around weight or appearance, before you know it, you’ve fallen flat? If you take a step back and think about the real reasons for your goal, you might just find that your failure has a lot to do with the type of motivation that fuels it.
The success rate for a goal that is ‘intrinsically’ motivated, that is one that comes naturally as part of your core value and offers deep personal enjoyment, may be easier to achieve than those that are extrinsically motivated. The ‘Self-Determination Theory’, developed by Edward Deci and Richard Ryan studies the motivation and unique personality of human behaviour and concludes that humans have three innate psychological needs:  a need to feel competent, a need to feel related and a need to feel autonomous. Intrinsic motivation stems from these three innate needs and therefore when setting goals, one should ask one’s self; ‘is this goal really about me or is it about the need to please others or fit in socially?’ ‘Will achieving this goal give me pleasure or is it something I feel I SHOULD do’?
“Taken as a whole, extrinsically motivated activities are performed to attain a goal, to obtain a reward, or to avoid a penalty or a negative consequence. When extrinsically motivated, individuals perform the activities not because they simply derive enjoyment.”( C. Levesque, … E.L. Deci, in International Encyclopedia of Education (Third Edition), 2010)
So, when setting goals for 2020, perhaps you can put the age-old debate of extrinsic motivation undermining intrinsic motivation, to the test by simply redefining your goals to focus on things you want to achieve, not things you think you SHOULD achieve. Rather than lose weight, look at getting fitter or taking up a social sport you can enjoy with friends. Take the SHOULD out of your goals and rewrite the list to include things you want to achieve because the outcome will provide you with pleasure.
Everyone is different and so what intrinsically motivates you will vary greatly but if you want to stay on track in 2020, stick to goals with no ‘shoulds’ attached.
To speak with one of our Psychologists about reaching your potential, visit our Brisbane Psychologist page to check out of team of Clinical Psychologists at our Newmarket and Morningside practice.