It happens to all of us. We set our sights on a goal, get excited about our endeavors, but then our excitement fizzles out and we lose the drive to keep going. Motivation is what guides our goal-oriented behaviors, but how do we maintain it when we aren’t feeling up to reaching our goals?
Recently, I had a ten-page paper to write that I hadn’t even started within twenty-four hours of the deadline. I wasn’t feeling motivated and recognized this as a good opportunity to do some research about why, which led to this post. We’ll be discussing motivation over the next few weeks to introduce some tactics you can utilize to help you stay on target. Today, we’re talking about how to put some pep into your step through an idea called means-ends fusion.
Types of Motivation
There are different types of motivation, specifically intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is self-generated. You’re doing something that you want to be doing and your drive comes from within. For example, you play a sport because it’s fun rather than for the rewards or trophies.
Extrinsic motivation describes that which you should or have to do. There’s a reward tied to the behavior, or you’re doing it to avoid a consequence. Today we’ll focus on a form of intrinsic motivation called means-ends fusion, described in an article by Kruglanski et. al.
In this form of motivation, there’s a created fusion between the means (the how) of moving toward your goals and the ends you experience (the rewards) when you’re actively working on reaching said goals. The activity or behavior conducted to reach your goal becomes fused with the means of reaching it, making it more joyful to participate in the means to the ends.
Something happened recently to me that was a good example of that. I’m no tech genius, but I had volunteered to learn some robotic automation work so that my team could gain another certification and expand our services. I found it difficult to get motivated to do the work because there was a thirty-hour pre-class to attend, followed by a more intensive forty-hour class. I was dreading the work, it was very stressful, and I was dragging my feet whenever it was time to work on the automations. My mind is most fresh around 10 am to 1 pm. You would think that I scheduled automation work during that time. But, no. Instead, I was doing everything except for the automation work during that time, leaving the automations to become more laborious as an end-of-day task.
Finally, I switched my perspective and started viewing the work as a learning opportunity, as opposed to it being something I just had to do. I started scheduling time to work on the means toward getting certified. I planned within the hours where I’m most focused, and used a Pomodoro technique where I would work for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. I listened to relaxing music, set up a diffuser, and gave myself some healthy snacks in the office. It started to become an intrinsic motivation when I started enjoying the work and wanted to do the work. Before I knew it, the means to the end became fused with my goal and it was no longer laborious. And, I became certified!
Something else I’m reminded of when discussing means-ends fusion, is when one of my professors shared that she had a love for running but her husband did not. He did want to be healthy, but that wasn’t his intrinsic motivation. It was the idea of being with his wife, this person he loves so much, while on these runs. He hated running so much that he had to switch his perspective and fused the means of running with the ends of being with his wife and in turn, being healthier. The means intrinsically motivated him, allowing for a sustainable path to reaching his goal of becoming healthy.
If you find that you are excited about a goal, but then you have trouble sustaining your motivation, I encourage you to turn your awareness to the language you’re using around the means of attaining that goal. If you feel like you have to do something just to complete it instead of enjoying the process, that’s a sign that your goal is not intrinsically motivated or from a place of desire.
Be aware of your language and then tie your means to something that is deeply rooted in a desire. Last semester during my doctoral program, I felt like I had an insurmountable amount of work. I was having trouble distilling all of the readings I had in order to provide it to you, my audience. I would procrastinate and procrastinate until I shifted my perspective. I reminded myself that I like to learn new and different ideas. That small mental pivot gave me the desire to translate the readings into something for you all.
Go to www.RatRaceReboot.com and message me if you’re having trouble sustaining your motivation. A good coach can help you understand the building blocks of motivation and how our minds can hold us back from reaching our full potential. Tell me what you think of means-ends fusion and try it for yourself by starting with being aware of the language you’re using as you begin to pursue your goal. Encourage yourself through self-talk. If that language isn’t supporting you, change it. I choose to do this, I desire this, and I want this. Write down your goal as anything comes to mind. How would it feel to reach your goal? Trust your intuition and follow through.
In the coming weeks we’re going to talk about other ways of maintaining motivation so that you can attain your goals over the next few weeks. Look for my book: Rat Race Reboot: Unlock Your Full Potential to Achieve Impossible Goals this fall! Sign up here (https://lauranoelcc.com/ratracereboot) to be the first to know when it drops!