Increase Your Drive

Many people use the terms motivation and drive interchangeably. While they are very similar they do actually mean two different things. The dictionary defines motivation as a “general desire or willingness” whereas drive is defined as an innate urge to meet a need. There are two types of motivation extrinsic and intrinsic, drive falls into the latter category.

Extrinsic or external motivation comes from an external reward and/or punishment state. The thing that pushes you to initiate a task or keep going is an external factor. This can be a reward that you want to attain like getting paid for completing a job. It can also be motivation to avoid a certain punishment such as doing just enough to not get fired from your job.

Intrinsic motivation on the other hand comes from an internal reward structure. That doesn’t mean rewarding yourself with ice cream for going to the gym, that’s still external. It means that just finishing the task or accomplishing the goal is the reward. Exercise for weight loss is extrinsic motivation whereas exercise because it makes you feel good afterwards is intrinsic motivation.

Drive is a goal oriented form of intrinsic motivation. It is intrinsic motivation with a purpose. It is planned out and designed to get you from where you are to achieving your goals.

Having internal drive is a skill that some people have cultivated. It may look like they are just intrinsically motivated naturally and have never had to work on it or faced lack of motivation. It’s like any other skill, though, some people will start with more ability or in this case drive than others, but if you put forth the effort you can build up the skill to match even the most motivated person you know. Each one of these individually will help you to improve your intrinsic motivation. When combined they will create a change in your life that will give you the push and power to get moving and keep moving.

Episode Breakdown

Understand your form of intrinsic motivation and drive.

Intrinsic motivation, especially drive, comes at the cross-section of purpose, autonomy, and mastery. Each of these alone can increase motivation, but by their powers combined you will have an internal drive not reliant on outside stimulation. To increase your drive you have to learn how each of these affects it as well as how to improve each area for yourself.

Purpose embodies our need as humans to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. It focuses on asking the why behind what you are doing. Purpose is the starting point of motivation that creates the context for the following two, autonomy and mastery. Autonomy is the combination of having choice and being accountable for the consequences of that choice. It is a need to be able to make the decisions that influence our lives. Many forms of Agile, when done properly, promote various levels of autonomy in allowing developers to choose their own tasks and how they accomplish those tasks.

Mastery occurs when we push ourselves just beyond our comfort and abilities. It is the need to improve our skills in an area where we find purpose or that leads toward our goals. Mastery involves failure, you will fail when pushing yourself but that is how you learn and grow.

Motivation increases when around those who are intrinsically motivated.

Humans are tribal creatures and unique in that we are able to pick our own tribes. Even the most shy, introverted developers need people around them, if anything because they can’t do all the work alone. You can choose to be around people who sludge through their lives barely getting anything done or you can choose to be around those whose drive pushes themselves to constantly be doing more.

Being in a community of motivated, driven individuals provides a backdrop and examples of how to be a motivated individual. This kind of support will get you excited about what you are doing and help to build not only external motivation but an internal drive that pushes you through even the rough times. Not everyone stays motivated all the time. We all have times when our motivation is lacking or we are going through a rough patch in life. When you are around other highly motivated people they will be there for you when your motivation begins to wane.

Finding these highly motivated people will mean that you have to get out of your comfort zone and go to where they are. Many times you can find them at conferences, local meetup or user groups, or even professional networking events. Signing up for a mastermind group is another great way to find a tribe to help you increase your drive.

Change your mindset from one of taking to one of giving.

For a lot of people it is easy to fall into being a taker and not thinking to give back or to give without expecting anything in return. When you are thinking like a taker your focus is on what you can receive and not what you can provide or what you can accomplish. This mindset saps motivation and drive as you are looking for what others can do for you.

It takes a shift in perspective to change from a taking to a giving mindset. This shift, however, allows your brain to think from a place of having instead of needing and allows you to be creative in coming up with various ways to share from your abundance. This doesn’t just mean giving what you physically own or have in your possession. It’s not about donating money to worthy causes, but instead about giving of yourself. Giving the things you’ve learned, volunteering your time to help others.

As you move toward a giving mindset your attitude toward others starts to change. Getting around other givers will build even deeper relationships with others who are motivated by the desire to help others. Focusing yourself into a giving mindset will effect your purpose, one of the three components of motivation. When giving becomes your purpose you’ll find that you don’t just improve the lives of those around you but your life improves as well. Your attitude changes and things that used to be major setbacks are minor inconveniences at worst.

Mentor or train, find a way to teach others what you’ve learned.

Two things that demotivate people and keep them from their own internal drive are that they don’t realize how much they actually know about a subject or they don’t realize how much is left to learn. The one causes them to think they aren’t capable of improvement whereas the other leads to arrogantly thinking that they don’t have to improve.

You don’t always know how much you actually know and understand about a subject until someone asks for help or you take on the role of a mentor or teacher. Especially early on, you get asked questions that you may not have ever thought about but suddenly realize that you do have an answer to it. The other side of the coin, though, is that you may get asked questions where you don’t know the answer or you may be asked to teach or give a lunch and learn on a topic you don’t know much about. Humbly accepting that you don’t know everything, because let’s be honest knowing everything would be rather boring, motivates you to learn the topic.

Learning in itself is a motivation multiplier. As you learn you see how much more there is out there to be learned as well as how much you gain from learning. This over time creates a drive inside of you to learn more and improve.

Get up and move around, exercise increases energy which will improve your drive.

Energy motivates us to keep going and do more. Exercise is known to elevate mood and increase energy which in turn will increase your drive and motivation. It doesn’t take much to get started. Simply walking around the neighborhood a few times or hopping on a treadmill at a slow pace for 30 minutes will start to make a difference. You don’t have to start out running a 5k or going hard core at some Crossfit gym to see rewards.

The trick is to not be complacent and once it is easy push yourself a little bit harder. Say you start off walking around the neighborhood for 30 minutes, once that becomes a routine then up it to 45 minutes or pick up the pace a little bit to push yourself. That is how you will increase your energy level, not by doing the same thing but by pushing yourself so that your body produces more energy. Eventually you may run a 5k, not sure about the Crossfit though.

Seeing the progress you’ve made in exercising will be a motivating factor to keep going. It will also increase the amount of energy that you have to do other things in your life. Increased energy has an amazing ability to increase motivation.

Spend time actively visualizing yourself accomplishing your goals.

Visualization in a powerful tool. Not only does it improve your drive but it can actually help you to achieve your goals faster than just working toward them alone. A commonly referenced study at the University of Chicago found that students who only visualized making a basket from the free-throw line improved over the course of a month as much as the students who actually practiced the free-throws. Students who did neither did not improve at all.

The visualization doesn’t have to just be a mental exercise. You can also create physical or digital representations of yourself accomplishing your goals. In the same way task lists help to see what’s been done and what is next, a vision board can help you to see your goals represented which solidifies them in your mind. Pintrest is the social media version of a vision board, but a physical board is even better. Find images, photos, or even descriptions of what you want to accomplish and pin them to a corkboard. Put it in a prominent areas so that you can be reminded of your goals and motivated to keep working toward them.

Remove tasks and activities that don’t move you toward your goals or increase motivation.

You will struggle just to maintain motivation, let alone increase it, when your mind is cluttered with a bunch of tasks or even projects that aren’t moving toward your goals. Reduce your complexity by focusing on what matters and doing less.

The key here is in learning to prioritize not only your goals but also yourself and how you spend your time. If possible stop doing the things that don’t motivate you or that don’t move you toward a goal. If you can’t stop something then find a way to delegate that task to someone else, preferably someone who is motivated by it or who’s goals line up better with it. Whenever possible combine smaller tasks into one larger one to accomplish. Part of this is time management, if you are waiting on tests to run on a build this might be a good time to also check your email or read a few pages in a book. Another could be combining podcasts while you are driving to the store or doing laundry. Putting these tasks together frees up time you can now spend on the things that do motivate you.

It is important to recognize that when moving toward your goals you will at some times have to do things that you don’t enjoy or that are boring or repetitive. These are not the things to get rid of because they are moving your toward your goal. Also, not everything has to move you toward your goal, some activities we do are just to relax or refresh our motivation to get moving.

Learn what rewards will motivate you and use them.

While the goal here is to build internal motivation and intrinsic drive you have to start somewhere. The best place to begin working on your own motivation is to find out what rewards work for you. Use them when your motivation wanes to help you get it back on track.

As previously stated there are going to be tasks and activities that we have to do that do not motivate us. They may be maintenance tasks or just the things of life like laundry, cleaning, or doing the dishes. These types of tasks come with some baseline reward, clean clothes, less mess, etc.

The tasks that are necessary but they don’t really move the needle nor inspire us to get things done are some of the most tedious. They are typically routine tasks that we’ve not been able to automate for whatever reason. For these types of tasks a carrot and stick approach helps to motivate us to get through them by offering a reward to ourselves on the outset. Other tasks that are not routine or may be more long term don’t benefit as much from the carrot and stick approach. For them surprise rewards seem to motivate us. Things like going to the movies because you finished your homework early.

Take time to look back on what you have already done and celebrate.

Something that saps motivation faster than anything is when you look forward and see how much work is left to do to accomplish your goals. You can get overwhelmed with what all is left and feel that you may never get there. Instead, take some time to look back at what you’ve accomplished. Train yourself to measure specifics so that you can look back and see quantifiable evidence of your own progress.

If you’ve broken down your larger goals then you are able to celebrate each victory along the way. As you accomplish one of the smaller goals or achievements that leads to a bigger goal take some time to celebrate accordingly…small celebration for completing a set of tasks whereas you’ll have a bigger celebration for achieving a larger goal.

Use the rewards you have found to be helpful when deciding how to celebrate. You don’t have to reward yourself every time, but when you reach a milestone on your path to a goal it helps to maintain your drive if you take a little time from working on tasks to enjoy what you’ve accomplished. While you don’t want to live in the past, looking back and seeing how far you’ve come can be motivating to keep pushing on. Do it sparingly and you’ll be safe from falling into the trap of the “glory days” or “see what I’ve already done.”

Be thankful for the people in your life and the things you have.

Gratitude, like giving, has a strange way of actually increasing your energy level. When you are thankful for the things that you have and the people in your life you will find that you have more energy to do the things that need to be done. The way people see you and interact with you will begin to change as you start expressing gratitude toward them. Doing this also changes you and the way you perceive others in your life.

Being thankful for what you have will cause you to appreciate it more and reduce the desire to keep gaining more stuff. You’ll find that you no longer care about what others have or what they have accomplished as you are content with yourself. This is where the move from external to internal motivation begins. Gratitude is not just about what other people have done for you, but it is more about the value that you have for them. You have to actively aim to be grateful to others in all areas not just your personal life.

Tricks of the Trade

Give people motivation when teaching them. Don’t mistake teaching for showing someone how to do it – you are teaching them that they are capable and THEIR actions are what make them learn (or not).

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