Why do some of us struggle with motivation? How can we improve those different levels of motivation over time? Motivation, otherwise known as the desire or willingness to do something, can be easily accessible to us at some times, while incredibly elusive at others. Understanding how you are motivated can help you to find more energy to act when your motivation is low.
There are two kinds of motivation: Avoidance and Approach. Like yin and yang, the two styles of motivation are defined by their type of energy input. Avoidance is an attempt to pull back from a negative approach is pushing forward to embrace positive change. Evidence provided by Elliot and Thrash indicates the type of motivation you most often experience is a dimension of your personality. Typically, people are not motivated entirely by one or the other kind. Once you stop using an instinctive approach to motivation and understand the difference between Avoidance and Approach it is possible to leverage the benefits of both to obtain your goals.
Avoidance is the yin to content Approach to motivation because it is pulling back. With Avoidance motivation, one moves toward a goal by mitigating potential failure. For example, when seeking a new job, someone who has an avoidance motivation mindset might seek out opportunities with similar skill sets and similar compensation. The goal would be to ensure they had a job and were able to do it well. J.W. Atkinson’s research indicates people who are risk averse are often more avoidance motivated; there is safety in avoiding failure.
Content Approach to Motivation
The yang is the energized and positive pressure pushing one to strive toward a goal. This type is active and encourages one to keep moving forward, invoking feelings of opportunity, productivity, and boldness. Approach motivation is positive engagement and the passionate pursuit of a goal. According to Atkinson, people who are risk tolerant are more often approach motivated; there is a certain element of risk in pursuing a goal with passion. Someone applying for a new job with a content approach to motivation mindset might look for new opportunities with better compensation, improved benefits, and more responsibility. Investors with the same kind of mindset might try to maximize results by diversifying their investment portfolios.
Financial Goals & Motivational levels
Goals and motivation are intertwined. Motivation is your desire to achieve a goal and affects all aspects of your life: career, finance, and personal wellness. Suppose you would like to increase your savings. If you have an approach motivation mindset you might invest in equities (common stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds). These are more volatile; however, the potential returns are much greater. If you have an avoidance motivation mindset, you might decide to invest in fixed-income securities (bonds, CDs, annuities, or preferred stock). This may not result in the most significant possible return, but it will result in some return and reduce the possibility of a significant loss.
Applying Motivation to Your Life
The idea is to be connected with your motivation every step of the way in order to embrace positive change. Try a pairing approach and avoidance motivation to tailor your outcomes. How do you use both styles of motivation to reach your goals? First, be sure to understand the difference between Approach and Avoidance motivation. Then, try to set goals using both types to determine which goals will work best for you to achieve the outcome you desire. Imagine you enjoy mountain climbing. Your approach goals might be: I will reach the summit. I will do so at a set time. I will choose the most challenging route. Avoidance goals might be: I will climb as high as safety allows. I will take all the time I need. I will choose a route I know I can easily navigate. For most people, the most successful sub-goals are a mix of approach and avoidance.
Motivation is complex and ever-changing
You may feel motivated by one thing one week, a different thing another week, and that’s OK. Be organized and mindful in your approach. Do experiment with both Avoidance and Approach motivations. Don’t forget to be specific about your goals and how they connect with your motivation. One way or another, it’s your feelings that will motivate you and bring you to the place you need to be.
Coming up with positive engagement words or positive engagement quotes can be quite useful, but thinking about motivational levels nothing is as self-motivating as thinking about where you are today versus where you were when you started Personally, the fact that I started temping in New York, unable to get an interview to be anything other than as assistant armed with just my dream of changing Wall Street, still motivates me to embrace positive energy. Remembering my starting point gets me through the toughest of days. If you’re near the beginning of your journey, or decades into entrepreneurship, thinking about where you are today versus where you were when you started is an excellent way to unleash your inner cheerleader and embrace positive change.
Call to action
Do you struggle with different levels of motivation sometimes? When was that? How did you embrace positive energy? Please, share or reach out to me via Twitter. For more of my thoughts on financial growth strategies, please visit my company’s website, LexION Capital.
Elle Kaplan is the founder and CEO of LexION Capital, a fiduciary wealth management firm in New York City serving everyone who feels left out by traditional “Wall Street”, including women and the families they love.
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