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December 7th, 2003


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04:33 am - Mo' tivation
Today, in the background of my mind, I feel scared and very upset. Capable of amusement in the foreground, but something's giving me grief behind it. Don't worry, I'm not upset with any of you people, but with dubious advances in technology and in what appears to be considered acceptable entertainment. It's all tied in with the same big issue (fear) that I really don't feel comfortable talking about, and would prefer not to be pressed upon, except to say that I really am doing something about it: (a) I asked the university counselling service for an appointment on Monday, (b) they haven't got back with a time and date yet, (c) the trainer I saw on Wednesday said that I could contact him if they hadn't got in touch with me by the end of the week and he would chase it up. Chasing-up time, then, indeed.

Let's finish off the discussion of Wednesday's motivation session, including 24 ways to motivate yourself to your full potential.

The second theory we discussed, after Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, was the wonderfully (and, I hope, factually) named Victor H. Vroom's Expectancy Theory, based around the idea that needs cause behaviour.

Quoting a reasonably good summary (bottom of page), the expectancy theory states that motivation to behave or perform depends on three variables: Expectancy, Instrumentality, and Valence.

Expectancy refers to the linkage between effort and performance; it represents the strength of one's belief that such-and-such effort will result in such-and-such performance outcome. Instrumentality refers to the linkage between performance and reward; that is, the strength of one's belief that certain kind and level of performance will lead to a particular reward. Valence refers to the attractiveness or utility of the reward to the individual.

This theory states that a person will expend the required effort, i.e., he will be motivated to perform, if he believes that his effort will result in the desired performance, which will get him a reward that is important to him.


With this background, the vital equation is MOTIVATIONAL STRENGTH = PROBABILITY OF OUTCOME FOLLOWING THE ACTION (EXPECTANCY * INSTRUMENTALITY) * VALUE OF GOAL (VALENCE). If you don't think the goal is terribly valuable, or if you think there is not a great chance that your effort will lead to the outcome, then you will not be motivated to perform the action. Relevant questions to ask yourself here are to look at your recent successes and failures, to ask yourself how important each goal was to you and how likely you felt it was to succeed.

The next exercise we performed was (without specific recourse to either theory, but taking a naive approach from first principles) to produce lists of things which motivate you and demotivate you. Originally this was planned to be a group discussion, but with only two trainers and two trainees, there was one single discussion among the foursome. Here's what we came up with.

MOTIVATORS
  • Valuable outcome.
  • Progress.
  • Praise.
  • The respect of those you respect.
  • Friends, sometimes.
  • Money, up to a point.
  • Happiness.
  • The fear of failure and its consequences.
  • Family ties.
  • Personal drive.
  • Clarity of view of career/life path.
  • Determination.
  • Clear goals.
  • Good personal examples.


DEMOTIVATORS
  • Friends who distract at the wrong times.
  • Thinking about failure.
  • Seeing others struggle.
  • Laziness.
  • Not knowing what you want.
  • Self-perception.
  • Negative remarks.


The conclusion was that we should seek to maximise the effect of the positive motivators and seek to minimise the effect of the demotivators. I have half the feeling that there's a Disney song in there somewhere, minus something to do with "not messing with Mr. In-Between".

A chicken-and-egg question to ponder, which was not resolved: which comes first, achievements themselves or self-perception of a state of motivation?

Lastly, 24 ways to motivate yourself. My commentary is added in italics.
  • Put your plans on paper. Spell out goals and ways to reach them.
    And keep re-reading them on a regular basis. Other sources have commented on this too. This ties in with the next three items, too.
  • Be specific. The advice you give yourself must be such that you can put it into practice.
  • Break the job down into small enough pieces that you have no excuse for not starting it.
    ...but a start is only a start.
  • Establish checkpoints so that you can check your progress.
  • Remind yourself of benefits you expect from completion of the job.
  • Avoid temptation by deliberately avoiding circumstances or thoughts that might sidetrack you.
    ...which directly tends to translate into a warning against excessive LJ participation.</i>
  • Recognise your limitations. Don't set goals you don't expect to reach.
  • Take advantage of energy peaks, those periods of the day when you are habitually in top form.
  • Take risks. Don't be afraid to try new methods.
  • Use negative motivation. Remind yourself of the unfavourable consequences of inaction.
    The emphasis here is that not all techniques are for everyone; some people respond well to self-induced fear, others don't.
  • Keep a time-control budget, comparing the priorities of various projects in progress.
  • Set deadlines and hold yourself to them.
    Tell others the deadlines you have set, and get people to call you on them. This, on the other hand, is somewhere that LiveJournal could be particularly good. I've heard this elsewhere too.
  • Make an honest distinction between "I can't" and "I don't want to."
  • Get started. Don't stall.
    I regard keeping myself up to date with news as a useful thing by way of general education, but simon_cozens has an interesting take on giving up news media.
  • Improve your self-persuasion ability. Learn to know when you are reasoning and when you are rationalising.
    This sounds really fancy, but it translates to "Break down your own excuses" in the first sentence and pretty much the same thing as the piece of advice two above in the second sentence.
  • Be optimistic and your chances for success increase.
  • Decide how you want to start, what needs to be done first.
  • Read, especially literature related to your problem.
    As tempting as it is to apply this to LiveJournal, see two above and four above.
  • Use self-signalling devices: notes, cues and reminders.
  • Promise yourself rewards: small rewards for small accomplishments, big rewards for big accomplishments.
  • Use the stimulation provided by good news to do extra work.
  • Recognise conflicts and make a choice. Don't let inertia set in.
  • Give yourself the right to make mistakes. No one is perfect.
  • Exercise your sense of humour. Laughter indicates a realistic point of view.


The last tip we were given was to celebrate our own achievements to recognise what they were. Here's what I've got:

WEDNESDAY

* shifted sleep patterns two hours towards normality
* kept myself clean and presentable
* attended a meeting on time
* made a potentially very useful friend in the training centre
* learnt a number of interesting new ideas in the session
* started on an award which can be won by attending 5 skills sessions, all of which is worthy of passing mention on my CV
* made a good start on my In-Course Assessment which will determine whether I pass the module I'm studying or not
* worked in the University of Teesside library for the first time
* walked about two miles fairly briskly
* ate and drank well and reasonably healthily
* kept up on local developments through a newspaper
* prepared my own meal (Dad had left me a panful of cooked minced beef and gravy, into which I slung a load of chopped vegetables, plus spaghetti)
* ironed some clothes
* planned a trip to see a friend
* made comments which supported and amused other people
* made an offer to loan my property
* explained the workings of VCR remote controls to parents
* prayed for people who needed it
* planned a post which may interest others

THURSDAY

* kept myself clean and presentable
* tried new suit and folk-inspired purple shirt and tie (presents from parents - thanks!) which made me look as good as I have done for months, though it's all relative
* contacted someone who I regarded myself as being scared of and to whom I wrongly thought I had nothing to offer
* was polite and kind to people I didn't know
* was polite and thankful to people who I did know
* informed myself through local newspapers
* learnt about social fallacies and ways to alter my behaviour for the more constructive
* came to some conclusion about the largest problems in my life
* made a post about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
* planned posts which may entertain and amuse
* ate and drank well and reasonably healthily
* walked about a mile and a half briskly
* caught up with a friend who was (nearly) in the area
* visited businesses of which I tended to regard myself as being scared
* planned activities for tomorrow
* made comments which supported other people
* learnt new vocabulary and concepts
* prayed for people who needed it

It's not that I haven't got achievements for Friday or today, but that a LiveJournal would get very boring if it contained lots of such lists. Good source material for private entries, perhaps? It's more important that these lists go into your mind than that they ever see an audience.

That concludes discussion of the course. Coming in future entries: me putting these 24 ways into practice.
Current Mood: uncomfortableuncomfortable
Current Music: "Blue" - Cowboy Bebop (not similarly-named Eiffel 65 song)

(9 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:flourish
Date:December 6th, 2003 08:39 pm (UTC)
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Wah. Well, if you ever do want to talk about it, you know I'm here and you know my YM.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:December 7th, 2003 05:17 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Thanks, Maddy. I appreciate the offer and the fact that it comes from as different a perspective as is about possible from those I have told already; definitely a good thing, as far as I can tell.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:December 7th, 2003 05:31 pm (UTC)
(Link)
In all seriousness, please can I assume that this offer remains open for, say, six months?
[User Picture]
From:flourish
Date:December 7th, 2003 05:44 pm (UTC)
(Link)
It remains open for as long as you want it to remain open. I wouldn't put a time deadline on something like that!
[User Picture]
From:meggitymeg
Date:December 6th, 2003 10:14 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Very interesting stuff, these theories of motivation. Oddly enough, I'm in the midst of studying Maslow and Vroom, among other topics, for my Management final on Monday. As helpful as it is to read the text and listen to the lectures, the information is so much more interesting - and more likely to stick in my head - when I hear it stated in a different way, applied to an actual individual's daily life. (Your equation is also particularly nice.) Thanks for the help! :)

I've been thinking about your last post - where you applied Maslow's hierarchy to your own life - and I think I'd like to undertake my own self-examination. If only I wasn't so swamped with finals! Perhaps ths next weekend, after the madness has ceased. They're both interesting theories, and I think we can learn a great deal about ourselves through them.

Re: life issues - I realize you hardly know me, but I'd like to offer you my support in any way you might need it, if only as a provider of "good vibes" or prayers. I've been shown so much support recently by a number of people that I've "met" through LJ and the fandom, and I'd like to be able to pass that strength on to others.

So, yeah. :)
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:December 7th, 2003 07:58 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Thanks. :-)

There were a few other theories of motivation that I encountered while I was looking up the topics over the last couple of nights, but I rather got the impression that the two theories which were presented formed a reasonably representative sample of the theories that exist. I'm suspect that we didn't get the most thorough possible explanation of Vroom's theories, not least because they weren't expressed in the original terms of expectancy, instrumentality and valence and indeed expectancy and instrumentality were multiplied into one single factor together.

I feel a little guilty about not doing the other exercises with as much intensity as I have done the Maslow's hierarchy one. Hard to get the balance in time expenditure correct with this as much as anything else and this weekend has definitely been in contravention of the anti-procrastination motivators. addedentry points out that I should take heart from the fact that so many aspects of my life are clearly satisfactory. (Funny word, satisfactory - it often tends to get used as less complimentary than "good", when in some senses it can mean a lot more.)

Life issues: I appreciate the offer very much. It's a subject that I don't enjoy thinking about, and I can't talk about it without thinking about it. Ideally I would like to put it out of my mind altogether, but sometimes the world conspires to bring it back into my life. Accordingly, I am minded to try to minimise the number of people with whom I discuss it in the future, unless I change my mind on this. Why do I mention it in my LJ at all? Well, for completeness, to try to get some sort of balance between saying "I'm sad but I'm not saying why" and "I'm sad and here's why". I'm not sure if I'll ever feel confident enough to do the latter - or even whether it would be a good thing to do.

Best of luck for your final! :-)
[User Picture]
From:meggitymeg
Date:December 9th, 2003 08:54 am (UTC)
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Thanks for the good luck! Alas, Maslow and Vroom were not on the exam, but, hey, it's over, so I'm not complaining. I think it went fairly well, and now I only have one more giant panic-inducing final project to complete. I can see a light at the end of the tunnel...and I don't *think* it's a train...

Re: life - Been there. Am still there in many ways, when it comes to facing certain issues and events in my past. I understand, and offer you many hugs. --> *HUGS* Also, a happy yellow rubber duckie, just because. :)
[User Picture]
From:bateleur
Date:December 7th, 2003 02:29 am (UTC)
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A chicken-and-egg question to ponder, which was not resolved: which comes first, achievements themselves or self-perception of a state of motivation?

I think it probably varies from case to case. I don't think I even had a concept of a "state of motivation" until my early 20s or so. I'm sure I'd achieved something by then.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:December 7th, 2003 08:02 pm (UTC)
(Link)
*grimaces at own lack of agreement between singular verb and plural noun*

It's only really a problem when you think about it too hard, I vaguely suspect.

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