The Second Key Factor of Motivation is Mastery

Mastery is the result of the pleasure of becoming better in something. When we feel that we are doing real and visible progress, our motivation increases.

The key thing here is to become better in what is important to us. Regardless of whether they are chess, project management or perhaps weeding the garden – when you feel that something is close to your heart, you will try to constantly develop your skills.

What can you do to use the mastery effect in developing your motivation?

1. Adjust the appropriate size of the challenge.

If you set yourself goals that are too easy, you will not feel the excitement associated with their achievement (excitement is inherent motivation, according to some psychological theories is almost synonymous with it). If they are too difficult, lack of confidence or fear of failure can be paralysing for you – your motivation will also be at the low level.

In cognitive psychology, there is the Goldilocks principle, according to which small children naturally choose tasks that are neither too easy nor too difficult for them. Therefore, when you setting your goal is good to choose a level of challenge that will require from you a bit more skills than you have at the moment. This should be a challenge that without stimulation of fear or uncertainty will allow you to achieve a state of “flow”.

2. Discover what’s important to you.

I don’t mean to discover your passion because there is no such a thing as the one and only passion. There are many things that may be of your interest. If you can’t find anything like that, you should probably focus on the mental and emotional obstacles that block your curiosity.

Small children are not looking for their passion. They try everything. They are interested in everything. Act like a child, because discovering what is important and interesting to us requires searching, testing and experimentation.

Give yourself time for that. Do not demand from yourself that you will know here and now what you want to invest your free time in. If you are doing something now, what you don’t care about and what doesn’t make your heart beat faster – you really should start to look for another job, hobby, passion.

3. Be good in satisfying your own needs.

According to Maslov hierarchy of needs, when satisfying our basic needs (eg. physiological, safety, belonging), our psyche naturally will strive to meet the next ones – those that are higher up the pyramid.

This is because each unmet need requires the attention of our mind. If you don’t feel safe, you lack self-acceptance, and you don’t feel part of a group, you will not be able to focus on the need for self-realization (which includes, for example, personal development). Only when you learn how to take care of these basic needs, you will release your mental space and energy to take up new challenges.

Take a look at the Maslov pyramid and think about which levels can you take care of the best. Then select those areas which would be worthwhile to focus in the nearest future. Of course, our needs can’t be satisfied once and for all. It requires the ability to keep a constant balance in life. And what is really helpful in taking care of all the important needs are habits.

SENSE – The Third Key Factor of Motivation.

From the perspective of evolutionary psychology, helping others is an inherent need of every human being.

We are programmed to, by supporting our environment, increase the chances of survival of our community, and thus – the species.

So what happens when among our aims will be intentions “bigger than ourselves” – those that affect not only our’s but someone else’s lives? We simply starting to feel a deeper sense, which is fundamental for achieving higher levels of motivation.

I’ll give you an example. Suppose that every day you work in a company selling junk food, which has a destructive influence on the health of hundreds of thousands of people. If you are aware of its negative impact, probably it’s hard for you to do your job with passion and have a strong motivation for it..

However, if you work in a company that is involved in solving real and important issues (eg. providing organic food, or creating technology solutions for people with disabilities), a sense of meaning and validity of your work would probably be deeply motivated.

What can you do to live with a sense of purpose?

1. Do what’s important not only for you but what gives the value to others.

Think about what are the most urgent problems of the people in your community, in your city, in your country or around the world. Health problems? Lack of physical activity? Psychological problems? No access to education? There are dozens of industries, professions and businesses that are focused on solving these and many other problems. Regardless of what character would your job be, being a part of a larger purpose is what motivates us the most.

2. Get involve in the activities of non-profit organisations.

Motivation doesn’t need to refer just to your work. What you do after working hours is also very important. If you like your job and don’t want to change it, but it’s not so purposeful, you can find this sense in a different place. There is plenty of such organisations. You don’t have to dedicate more time than you have – any help is useful in such places.