It's that time of year when we tend to set goals, or others ask us to set goals. Personal goals, work goals, "SMART" goals. Most of you have probably never experienced this, but occasionally goals end with an eventual meh. Especially the ones that were set for us, or that we'd been asked to set in benefit of someone else. Those types of goals don't seem all that smart when you better understand motivation. Or at least they could stand to be a bit more meaningful
We tend to look at motivation as either intrinsic or extrinsic. Motivating us from within or externally. Ideally, all of our motivations are intrinsic, but that's near, if not totally, impossible. OK, so now what? Let's break it down:
Intrinsic Motivation = for the love of it. You do because you find joy in doing so. Mountain biking? Intrinsic motivation. Going to Dog Beach? Intrinsic motivation? Continued education focused on what makes humans, better? Intrinsically motivated.
Extrinsic Motivation = motivated by an external force. Seems simple enough. Doing laundry? Extrinsic Motivation. Getting that "examination" you're supposed to get once you turn 50? Extrinsic motivation. Dancing at weddings? EXTRINSIC MOTIVATION.
It's not that simple. Here's where it gets (even more) interesting.
Extrinsic motivation has multiple dimensions, each with its own level of connection, meaning, and purpose. Knowing this provides you insight into why your goal might have turned out to be the Greatest Of All Letdowns.
External Regulation - Do this for that. Reward-based motivation. Show up to work every day for the reward of a paycheck.
Introjected Extrinsic - Motivated out of shame, out of needing to prove self-worth. Out of survival. Ego-based. The quicker we can move away from this, the better. Doing so starts with the awareness of it. It may seem as if this comes from within, and it does, but it's directed by external sources (parents, bosses, coaches, "friends, etc.)
Identified Extrinsic - Recognizing the importance of it. Quitting smoking. Dropping social media. You may not want to do it but you've identified that it's good for you.
Integrated Extrinsic - You may not "love it," but you've integrated it into your life because you know the value and impact of doing so. Like brushing your teeth.
OK, now what? Knowing that not all goals won't be intrinsically motivated, how can we move away from being external regulation or introjection motivated and more towards integrated? Consider setting aside your SMART goal and create a "Heart goal." I know, it sounds woo-woo. Which is why I didn't try to force an acronym into it. Honestly, it's not "woo-woo." It's "WOOOHOOO!"
We set Heart goals using a foundation of meaning and purpose. Heart goals are bigger-than-self. They tap into our three most basic psychological needs of autonomy, competency, and relatedness. The motivations behind Heart goals have a positive impact on those around us, they accentuate our gifts, and they help to ground our sense of place in the world. All which position us to show up to the world closer to our true self.
Heart goals are not set to keep us accountable. We set them to help us feel accounted for. Their intention isn't in having more, it's in being more. When fixing our focus on a goal that increases positive emotions, that supports being more fully engaged in life, that amplifies our relationships, that's rich in meaning and achievement, and that contributes to optimizing our health, we're setting a goal that allows us to human, better.
Not a lot of letdown with one of those types of goals.
So, how do we set a Heart goal? Answer these questions:
1. What's my goal? (Remember, this goal isn't to make one-miiiilllllion dollars, it's purpose is to help us human, better.)
2. Where am I in relation to realizing this goal?
3. What's your motivation for achieving this goal?
4. What's this goal moving you away from? What's it moving you towards?
5. What will it feel like when you reach this goal? (What emotions will you experience?)
6. What obstacles will you need to overcome to reach this goal? (The main ones being thoughts and beliefs.)
7. Who is the achievement of this goal for? (Be honest.)
8. What will you gain when you reach this goal?
9. Who will you become when you achieve this goal?
A lot to think about. But worth it. With this clarity–in partnership with consistent action–there's very little you can't do. When it comes from the heart and not the head, we're ahead of the goal game.
If you'd like to learn more, I'd love to share.
A special shout to Dr. Friedemann Schaub for showing ME the way,