Motivational quotes, books, seminars, and posters are everywhere telling you things from the early bird gets the worm to success only comes before work in the dictionary. How well do these messages motivate? Motivation is a complex construct that is heavily researched by psychologists. There are many different theories of motivation, some defining its process and others discussing the innate behavioral (stimulus/response) aspect along with many more.
The reality is that motivation is complex and many times varies by the individual. What motivates some, may not motivate others. Some are seemingly more motivated than others. So, can a poster or quote or even a book or seminar motivate someone? The key component of motivation is its enduring quality. One is motivated to reach a desired goal. Motivation should endure throughout this process, usually fluctuating. The quotes and posters you see offer little assistance in the way of continued motivation. Many times all they do is lift your spirits momentarily. Books and seminars typically hit on the concept of sustained motivation but in the end they cannot motivate us. They can, however, help teach you how to motivate yourself.
Part of the problem with lacking motivation is that motivation is related to confidence. Confidence is related to past success. Therefore, many times one has to believe they can achieve something in order to accept the challenge and thus find true motivation to do so. Fear, uncertainty, risk, etc., are all detriments to motivation. Part of any true accomplishment is learning. When measuring confidence by past achievements one has to look at the totality of the events. Many times trying is just as motivational as past successes.
Another issue is that sometimes individuals look at the trophy rather than how to get there. It is not wise to focus on results. The focus should be on perfecting the process. I can usually tell whether someone who is going back to college will stick to it or quit. Those who are constantly talking about how much fun it will be and how they cannot wait to start and what they will do and how much money they will make when they graduate are usually the ones who quit. The ones who have the mindset that college is a marathon, not a sprint, and temper their expectations and excitement have a better chance of completion. Why is this the case? It appears that those in the former group fill themselves with false motivation. They look at only the pros of starting back to college and ignore the difficulty that lies before them. This process of inflating their excitement prepares their conscious by deceiving it. Then, once the reality of college sets in (homework, studying, tests, time spent, delaying of gratification) their false motivation is gone. On the other hand, the reality of college is how the latter group prepared for it therefore it played out just as expected.
Whether it is in relationships, work, school, or anywhere else, motivation is a major aspect of life. This is a deep topic with much more information to read and understand. The early bird does get the worm but what about patience is a virtue? What about the second mouse gets the cheese? The reality is that quotes, books, and seminars all have their place in society and when used properly can provide motivation from time to time. These methods are similar to getting a nice haircut or a new outfit before going on a first date. The can provide you with a little extra confidence. Without the foundation of true motivation, how long will it last? Maybe instead of reading only motivational books and quotes, try reading and learning about the scientific findings of motivation and what it actually is. Understanding the processes of motivation may actually give you the confidence to find true motivation, not false hope based on a poster in your child’s fourth grade class. There should be Motivation 101 given to individuals going to college. It could probably save a lot of people a lot of money on tuition.