Self Improvement Part 4: Motivation

It is important to have the right kind of motivation, because motivation dictates both a destination, and the path to that destination.  The reason I said destination and not goal is because most times you don’t fully understand the influence a motivation will have on you, and so while you might think it will take you to a goal, in reality it may take you somewhere else, and I’m naming that somewhere else the destination.  Studying other people’s motivations, circumstances, and destinations will help you to learn to pick the right motivation to take you to the right destination.  Often times, you need to switch busses or planes along the way: one motivation will get you to a destination that positions you to chain another motivation after it, and so on, in order to get to your actual goal.

Operant Conditioning offers a way to classify motivations with the following concepts: positive means something is added, negative means something is taken away, and reinforcement means you want to promote a behavior, punishment means you want to reduce a behavior.

Stress and pressure are forms of negative reinforcement: upon finishing the task, the stress and pressure is taken away.

Rewards are positive reinforcement: upon finishing the task, you are given something.

A spanking is a positive punishment: upon breaking the law, you are given a spanking.

Going to jail is negative punishment: upon breaking the law, your rights are taken away.

Dangerous motivations (stay away from these) that are more destructive than helpful in that they may damage mental and emotional health, which reduces achievement in the long run.

  • Reducing Self Worth as negative punishment: when you fail, you lose self worth.  Instead, it’s OK to temporarily lose self-esteem, but don’t lose self worth (What is Self Worth).
  • Stress and pressure as negative reinforcement: relax (Guide to Handling Emotions and Problems), focus on the rewards from positive reinforcement instead: success, excitement, happiness in anticipation, etc.
  • Punishment as positive punishment: I used to set up punishments for bad results to motivate me to succeed.  The problem with punishments is that it harms you and weakens you: if there is a way to motivate yourself without causing more work, then that way is the better one.  There is: positive reinforcement.


Self Improvement: Part 1: Mindset and LogicPart 2: PlanningPart 3: Decision Making

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