Why is this important?
After Module 1, you know what you have to do—what valued goals, what tasks etc. But knowing and doing are two very different things! Module 2 provides an introduction to ways of thinking about motivation—that is, psychological tools to manage your motivation. The tools are evidence-based, which means that for the majority of people, they are helpful if properly applied.
What's in this module?
1. BELIEVING THAT YOU CAN
Self-efficacy is the extent to which you believe in your ability to complete tasks and reach goals. Scientific research has shown that students with higher self-efficacy are more likely to achieve high marks than students with lower self-efficacy. This means that your beliefs about your abilities may play an important role in how well you actually perform.
One way to increase your self-efficacy, and thus your energy, is to attempt easy tasks first. Completing those tasks gives you confidence to attempt harder tasks. The first video illustrates this point. Note that this is just one (evidence-based) way to maintain your motivation to pursue and achieve your valued goal.
Another way to increase your confidence is to APPRECIATE what you already have (past achievements; resources eg family, education, job) [See videos on GRATITUDE in MORE.]
2. IT'S ALL IN THE MINDSET
Well, almost --see end of this section.
Occasionally, you may experience a thought like, ‘I’m just not good at X [eg maths]’. This rigid thinking represents a fixed mindset. Fixed mindsets keep us stuck because we use them as an excuse to stop trying! Instead, try a growth mindset, where you BELIEVE that your abilities aren’t fixed; they grow! With this mindset you CAN acquire the skills and put in the time to successfully achieve your goal. In particular, work out what resources you need—skills, knowledge, out-sourcing, effective study time—and put effort into acquiring those resources to achieve your valued goal (see Burchard Mindset video in MORE).
You may have already seen the growth mindset video below in class. There are more videos on Mindset in MORE, including the video by Seligman on realistic optimism. Note that mindsets are just one (evidence-based) approach to maintain your motivation to pursue and achieve your valued goal.
Keep in mind that the message with growth mindset is about pushing your limits in pursuing your passions. This does, of course, need to be balanced with regular goal checks, which may lead to the recognition that more resources are required, or that the goal needs to be modified. Moreover, not every barrier can be dealt with, and so we need to build our coping strategies and resilience skills.
3. CAN'T GET GOING?
The third video introduces the science of procrastination. We all suffer from procrastination to a certain extent, so you are not alone. Procrastination is partly about lack of self-efficacy, and partly about perfectionism (the curse of many university students—see MORE). Procrastination and perfectionism (the "Paralyzing Ps") are sometimes about fear of failure—of the disappointment and shame that can (although not necessarily) accompany failure. Again, videos in MORE address some of these issues.
Click here for a great resource on perfectionism, including some videos.
Surprisingly, regularly appreciating what we have—that is, practicing gratitude—had been shown to contribute to motivation through increasing positive feelings, as this video implies:
This video makes some nice points about goals and gratitude (Note: his reference to “reticular activating system” is questionable, and we do not endorse his emphasis on materialistic goals):
This video by Marty Seligman (a founder of modern positive psychology) explains realistic optimism in terms of how we attribute causes of the outcomes of our behaviours. That is, how we interpret the past influences how we feel about ourselves and our future:
This mindset video makes some great points, including how to deal with setbacks (Note: “brain growth” may be an overstatement):
A further perspective on growth mindset:
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