But, there is one thing my boys love, and that’s camping.
A couple of times a year I get the opportunity to go camping with my sons’ scout group. A couple of years ago when we first started attending these two-day adventures, I have to admit, I wasn’t thrilled.
My attitude wasn’t right and I knew it. I was poorly motivated to go, yet my boys were pumped.
I went. I always did. But my motivation was one of compliance rather than of free will.
I’m sure you’ve been in a similar situation where you lacked motivation for an activity and wished you had a better attitude.
When we analyze motivation, you can see that we have different levels of motivation quality based on the activity. Some motivation can come from fear of losing something. Other behaviors are motivated by compliance. The best quality motivation, however, is from a sense of value and meaningfulness.
The good news is that we can increase our motivation quality. We can raise our level with a bit of work.
Nobody likes to be with someone who is motivated by compliance. In fact, nobody likes the feeling of doing anything when they are compliantly go along with any activity.
I knew I needed to do something about my motivation for camping with my kids. It wasn’t doing them any good to see there dad just going along. They wanted to see me involved. They wanted to see dad’s excitement and full engagement.
I wanted to see it too.
I decided to change my motivation quality and here’s how I did it.
The first principle of motivation is ensuring that an activity is aligned with your values. To have optimal motivation you have to make sure that an activity supports and progresses you toward what you value and what has meaning in your life.
I began to assess myself by asking the following questions to provide myself with full awareness:
- What level is my motivation?
- Why is my motivation low?
I then began to think about how I can connect the activity of camping with my personal values. This is a mental activity that often doesn’t happen unless you take the time to think able the connection between the activity and your deepest values.
This is an interesting phenomenon. When we get busy and we fly from activity to activity, we subject ourselves to an erratic ebb and flow of motivation. We can easily trap ourselves into behaviors that are habitual and do not lead us toward an outcome we value.
There is great power in stopping and thinking about our activities and why we do something. Taking the time to be intentional about our investment of time and energy can be very eye opening.
We can actually identify the activities for which we have false motivation and stop being involved in them.
Here’s the kicker. We can use this same mechanism to assess an activity and increase our level of motivation for involvement.
That’s exactly what I did. After taking time to assess the situation I began to connect the activity of camping with my values. In essence, I looked for reasons to get excited about the camping trip. Here’s the questions I asked myself.
- What personal value can I connect to this situation?
- How can I reframe the situation to find value?
I took the time to think about the joy my boys would have. I thought about what it means to them for me to be there. We were building memories that would last a lifetime and beyond my days on earth. I thought about the things they would learn outdoors in the wild that they can’t learn at home.
My motivation quality was rising from a compliance orientation to a value orientation. I was getting excited about going.
The work wasn’t over after this time of thought and reflection. This was more than a year ago and there have been a few camping trips since my motivational turnaround. The compliance motivation attitude still bears its ugly head from time to time. But I’m ready. Old ways of thinking reappear easily.
This is why the third step is important. We have to continue to track where we are and if our motivation quality is falling. If so, we can catch ourselves and remind ourselves of the connection the activity has with our values. Here are some questions I asked to continue to track my motivation level.
- How has my motivation level change?
- Can I continue to raise my level of motivation?
This process of raising your motivation quality can work for any activity that you have a compliance oriented level of motivation. You know, those things you do, but with a poor attitude.
Yard work. Commuting to work. Take your car for an oil change. Maybe even work.
To recap, I call this process ACT. It stands for the following: Assess, Connect, and Track.
1) Assess your level of motivation when you detect poor motivation quality for an activity.
2) Connect the activity with your values.
3) Track your motivation quality and reconnect when you feel it falling.
The human mind is powerful. The trick is to take the time to harness it by stopping to think about how your activities and behaviors are connected or disconnected with your values.
That’s what intentionality is all about.
With intentionality you can do more than manage your motivation. You can improve it!