Motivational theory explores what drives people to succeed. It includes a wide range of emotions such as:
These emotions can inhibit, neutralize, or promote goal-directed behaviors. Most people fall between two extremes when it comes to motivation; these poles are the belief of their own helplessness and/or powerlessness; and the belief of self efficacy, or one’s own ability to succeed.
Research suggests that what people learn becomes part them; it is absorbed into both the body and brain. This results in patterns of behavior linked to physiological response. The behaviors may not be logical, as they are not linked to the intellect; rather, they are influenced by emotion at a basic level.
The behaviors are reactions that have been conditioned into the individual over his or her lifetime by the events in their lives. Some are positive and some are negative - and none will change quickly… but they can be changed. Goal setting can play a large part in behavioral modification. Care must be taken with goals setting; it is just as bad to set the bar too low as too high. If you set it too low and succeed to easily, you have learned nothing, and grown not at all. In addition, you may not be prepared for a task of greater magnitude and could be severely smacked down in the future, leaving you reeling.
However, setting the bar too high may induce panic, and you could decide it is all just too much and you may as well not try. This is not a good plan either. It is best to set the bar just a little higher than the last success each time, to continue a steady progression of growth and success.
It is important to view failure and success reasonably. The person who looks on failure as something fixable, and blames their own lack of preparation or effort, will try harder next time. The person who blames failure on ‘bad luck’ or ‘everything being stacked against’ them are giving themselves permission to fail again and again with no effort to do better.
Success is largely due to effort, but effort alone can sometimes fail you, so it is important to look at other factors such as strategy and innate ability. Grading success on a curve that includes all the factors is needed to make a fair evaluation.
Motivational theory in a nutshell explores the idea that a pattern of failure can breed failure, simply because the individual is conditioned to fail - but with proper retraining, a person who seems doomed to failure can become a model of success!
Abraham Maslow's theory of motivation Home page from motivational theory