Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Goals and Motivation

It’s good to have goals. My home team, Speed Regime, has been posting weekly accountability threads on our Yahoo group. Each week anyone on the team who wants to can post their goals for the week, update us on what they’ve been doing, and ask questions or offer suggestions for others. The goals and discussion mainly revolve around food and exercise. I think it’s a good way to keep yourself and your team in check. It provides accountability (hence, accountability thread). Still, if you want to do something, you aren’t ever really going to accomplish it out of fear or guilt – you have to want to do it.

I really think that’s been the difference in my game lately – I’ve actually wanted to do well, not just say I do and think about how great I would be if I had X, Y, or Z. Yes, guilt gets me there on nights I’d otherwise want to lounge and lie on the sofa, but I’m not motivated by guilt.

The following is an excerpt from Dr. Sidney Langston on the topic (http://members.aol.com/elrophe/motivationguilt.html). He talks about children, but this really applies to anyone:

Motivation by guilt is unwise for many reasons. First, it creates unneeded emotional stress. Secondly, it doesn't work. When people are constantly barraged by guilt-producing statements, they become deaf to the motivational aspects and remember only the guilt aspects. Just as people became deaf to the boy who cried wolf, they become deaf to motivation by guilt. Children who are harangued by guilt-producing statements are not more responsive; they just feel more guilty. Guilt-ridden children are no more obedient or efficient than other children. More likely, the opposite is true. They get so wrapped up in their feelings of shame and remorse that they cannot follow through on the requests that are made of them. Unfortunately, attempts to correct their lack of responsiveness often creates more guilt.

Motivation by guilt also results in side effects that are incompatible with healthy personality growth. Feelings of inferiority, low self esteem, lying to cover up mistakes, aggressive behavior, bragging, withdrawal and self punishment are some of the side effects of motivation by guilt.

Additionally, Dr. Langston gives suggestions for motivators to replace guilt:

Motivation by encouragement
When we encourage children we help them to see what they are doing right, not just what they are doing wrong. Encouragement involves praise, support, and a spirit of togetherness. In contrast, motivation by guilt usually involves criticism, isolation and blame.

Motivation by exhortation
Exhortation is another excellent means by which we can motivate... Exhortation deals with facts. To exhort is to lay the truth on the line. Exhortation emphasizes the truth and the natural consequences of not following the truth. In contrast, motivation by guilt focuses upon the person and the negative aspects of the person. It is often a matter of attitude. The most effective exhorters are those who gently but firmly lead the way. [For example,] people don't want their children to feel guilty because children who feel guilty usually lag behind.

Motivation by equipping
Equipping involves showing, telling and leading… until [a person has] enough experience to carry on by themselves. The most effective parents and teachers are those who show… what to do and how to do it.

And just so you know, my goals for the week are:

1. Make it to the gym w/Rita Friday at 6am
2. Play DDR twice
3. Do balance board once a day at work
4. Drink more water (when it's uber cold, I can't get it down!)
5. Kick ass at Wednesday practice