Thursday, 29 January 2015

Motivation: Pain, Gain and Reason

by Frederike Rademacher

As many of you well know, the Year 11 have recently finished their GCSE mocks and as glad as I am that they are all over, I feel the need to talk about what motivates people. We all need motivation, or else what is the point in doing anything at all? Yet I believe that we can define motivation into two important categories: pain & gain.

Yes, I know that this may sound corny, but, when you truly think about it, they are the only two reasons we try to accomplish anything. 

I’m sure that everyone attempted the art of motivating their crest-fallen friends during the exam week and it was whilst I was trying to motivate someone that I discovered incentives behind motivation: 

            Pain – Unpleasant situations
            Gain – Pleasant situations

“Pain” is a brilliant motivator for everyone; in moments of distress and anxiety, our bodies produce adrenalin. For some people, change may never occur until they experience pain. It is only when we feel something become uncomfortable in our lives that we are motivated to want to change the circumstances. It is during this phase that we become either willing or unwilling victims to change, stepping into unfamiliar territory. Adrenalin acts as fuel for our bodies to change; it isn’t until we receive this fuel that we are able to move forward to improve.  

Yet, when we realize that we are able to “gain” something by doing something unfamiliar, we are once again motivated to change. When we see that a benefit lies up ahead, we have a goal to set towards and we become excited at the prospect. It is when we get excited that endorphins are released in our bodies, creating a feeling of euphoria that make you feel good and motivate you to act. Many are guilty of wanting to be able to cruise by without changing anything; however, when we are able to view a palpable incentive/advantage, we find the energy to make a change.
How does this apply to us?

For our bodies to produce either adrenaline or endorphins, we require a stimulus. For our generation, key stimuli include: music, social media, digital visualization, chemicals, medication and books. Unfortunately, we are all provided with these stimuli from a very young age and, as such, it becomes increasingly difficult for people to motivate other people. It has come to the point where we are more than content with cruising  through life because we lack the motivation to stretch ourselves to new limits and allow ourselves room to develop. 

Nevertheless (and I cannot stress this enough), motivation isn’t simply about being rewarded or punished. If we attempt to categorize everything into these two boxes, we will soon discover that we are very good at avoiding all stimuli that we abhor. So it is now that I will introduce a new addition to motivation: Reason.

Reason is what motivates the world. As humans, we generally believe that we need to find reason in something to find it worthwhile. We need to know WHY we have to do certain things or else we discover that “pain” and “gain’ become meaningless. For example, if we were told that we had to complete a test for no other reason then to complete a test, we would automatically reject the task because we haven’t been provided with a “reason”. We know that completing this test will result in the expenditure of energy and we will do anything possible to minimize the amount of energy we exert. This is what we call “cruising”; the lack of reason and motivation added together results in our minds and bodies wanting to simply plod along.

It is then we come to the realization that doing our exams, whether GCSE mocks, GCSEs, A-Levels or whatever exam we are doing, has a reason behind it. As such, it when we discover the reason we do something we are able to find the motivation to complete it to the best of our ability. We know that doing well in our exams means that we are more likely to get a good job and we know that a good job leads to a comfortable lifestyle, which is something that we can all agree, is pleasing. 

Now that we have our reasons, we know what we have to gain from doing this and we become aware of the consequences (pain) if we don’t find the motivation to act. So do not be disheartened by things too easily; there is always a way to find the incentive to move forward by following my three easy steps:

1.      Find the reason
2.      Find what you have to gain
3.      Find what you have to lose

You don’t necessarily need to find all three reasons; sometimes, one or two will do for you and everyone is different and therefore requires a different type of motivation. Deciding which motivation is right for you will help you tremendously to setting your goals for the future.  

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