The Psychology of Motivation and Performance

Private Consultation and Coaching – New Offerings at Breakforth Counseling

In 2015 I was fortunate to be able to offer consulting services to nursing and rehab facilities. I was also honored to be asked to speak to runners at Fleet Feet Sports Roanoke on the psychology of motivation and performance. In preparing my talk for the runners, I noticed that those preparing to run anything from a marathon to a 5K had something in common with the clients I serve in nursing and rehab facilities – they want to perform their best and they struggle at times to stay motivated.

It’s generally not hard to get motivated, at least initially, for something that is important to us. We all have some basic level of motivation to leads us to pursue a goal, satisfy a need, act on an urge, etc. But maintaining motivation can be more difficult. It’s the day-to-day focus on pursuing our goals that can become challenging. And while we may have high levels of performance when we first set out to pursue a goal, that high level of performance can be hard to maintain over time.

Then how do we maintain motivation and performance over time? One key is to examine your goal orientation. Do you have intrinsic motivation for working toward the goal or extrinsic motivation? Intrinsic motivation comes from within and it occurs when you pursue a goal just for the satisfaction you will derive from pursuing it. Intrinsic motivation is generally seen as more sustainable than extrinsic motivation, which is motivation that comes from outside of ourselves and usually involves tangible rewards such as bonuses, prizes, trophies, pats on the back from our bosses, etc. Of course extrinsic rewards can feel good, but they are usually not what keep us going over the long haul.

Another key is to carefully look at how you talk to yourself about pursuing goals. Are you hard on yourself? Do you beat yourself up, call yourself names, etc.? Many of us do this in the interest of trying to maintain motivation. But research has shown that this approach, while it may increase performance in the short term, drains us over the long run. The alternative is to practice self compassion. A simple form of self compassion is to ask yourself “What would you say to a friend?” and say that to yourself before using harsh self talk.

Do you need help maintaining motivation and sustaining performance? These are challenges for many people in many areas of life, and I now offer private consultation and coaching for these issues. Go to Breakforth Counseling for more information.

Here’s to achieving your goals in 2016!

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