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Research we WISH we had done!

We all have goals, and ideally, we’re motivated to achieve those goals. But what if, in the pursuit of those objectives, we become our own barriers? Not finances, or time, or organizational constraints – but us? Ourselves?

Researchers from the United States and Canada in a study published in the Journal of Research in Personality suggest one of the biggest impediments to achieving our goals may be found in our own motivation.  They suggest two types of motivation that may contribute: want-to motivation and have-to motivation.

Want-to motivation is internal. It’s when we pursue a goal because it connects with our values.  It’s something we find important for intrinsic reasons – factors that drive us such as our desire for equity or fairness. Have-to motivation is external. It represents the pressures we feel from our environment, supervisors, colleagues, family, or friends. If we fail in this arena, we may feel a sense of culpability or failure.

The researchers found that participants were more successful in avoiding true obstacles to success when they were driven by want-to motivation. In other words, it turns out the best way to achieve what we wish to achieve is best sought through making the have-to’s more like the want-to’s.  Injecting a little humor or fun into the have-to’s is a good start.  Also, accepting that the have-to tasks may be a path to the want-to goals can help as well.

Sure wish we would have done this research!

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