2 Achieving goals and dealing with setbacks
Cherry (2020) describes three major components of motivation:
- Activation – the decision to initiate a behaviour.
- Persistence – the continued effort towards a goal even though obstacles may exist.
- Intensity – demonstrated by the concentration and vigour that goes into pursuing a goal.
Another definition of motivation comes from Laurie Mullins, an academic and former Territorial Army instructor. He describes it as a ‘driving force’ (Mullins, 2002), suggesting the creation of energy within us to move us into action. You have probably experienced this whenever there has been something you really wanted, such as winning a race or passing an exam.
Whatever our goals and motivations, there are times when difficulties arise and progress is slow. It is at these times that people with high self-efficacy persist in taking actions, while others give up.
Activity 2 Grit and persistence
In the video ‘Personal best: persistence’, OU sports academic Jessica Pinchbeck talks with athletes about developing ‘grit’ to overcome adversity and make progress towards their goals. Watch the video and note down what the athletes describe as helpful in keeping them moving towards their goals.
Jessica Pinchbeck talks about persistence and having a ‘growth’ mindset. These athletes do not think that their current performance is fixed; instead, things can change as they learn from setbacks. The athletes describe times when they turned situations round, keeping positive, keeping a focus on goals, remembering the good feelings that they had at times of previous success and asking themselves ‘How can I grow from this setback?’
Keeping motivated towards goals can be difficult and require persistence. As for the athletes in the video, bigger goals can take years to achieve.
The athletes describe gaining persistence from clear goals, positive feelings of success and believing that they can turn setbacks around. The nurses in Activity 6 of Week 5 described the factors that motivate them at work, and you looked there at some of the factors that motivate you. How far might any of the tactics from the video support you? Which?
If the goal feels a long way off, noting down even small steps towards it can make a difference, in the same way that athletes note tiny fractional improvements on their personal best. Note down your thoughts.