Thursday, 10 February 2011


The arousal theory of motivation says we are motivated to do things to keep our level of arousal at a level that makes us happy. This becomes our optimal level of arousal, and we are motivated to do activities that maintain us at that optimal level. We will try to avoid a level that is too low and avoid a level that is too low.

There is a fascinating corollary to the arousal theory of motivation called the Yerkes-Dodson law, which says that your arousal level impacts you in another way. It states that how your performance on tasks is impacted by your arousal level depends upon the difficulty of the task. Your performance on both simple and difficult tasks will initially be better as your arousal level increases (as you get more aroused), but a point will come where your performance on the difficult tasks will start to suffer as your arousal level increases. Your performance on the simple tasks, however, will not suffer by the increase in arousal level.

We want to stay in charge of our motivation. So how should we use this information to increase our motivation?

This is the model for self motivation:


This means that your motivation is related to your vision (that special change you want to make in your life), your successability (your confidence in your competence, that is, your ability to make the change) and your environment, both your physical environment (where you will do the work necessary to make the change) and your social environment (the people and organizations available to you).

The model for self motivation tells us that any positive steps you take to impact your vision, successability or environment will automatically positively impact your self motivation.

We use the Yerkes-Dodson law to increase our motivation by exercising our control over our physical environment, the place we do our work on our goals and dreams.

We do this by looking at the task we are doing and comparing it to our physical environment.

Is it a complicated/difficult task, or is it an easy/simple task? If it is the former, we need to be extra careful that our environment does not over arouse us. Music blasting, television distracting, children running in and out, phone ringing, email announcements, are all going to raise our arousal level. But a high arousal level is not what we want, not when we are attempting a complicated/difficult task. If this is the situation you are facing, a difficult task and an over stimulating environment, something needs to change. You need to exercise your intent to make it work.

You have three options:

1) Change the environment, which means reducing the things in your environment that are arousing you. Turn off the television, turn down the music, lock the door, silence your phone.

2) If you can't change the environment, move to a less stimulating environment. Go to the library, or to a book store.

3) If you can't change the environment, and you can't move to a less stimulating one, change tasks. This just may not be the time to do a complicated or difficult task. Instead, find an easy or simple task on which your performance will not suffer by the high arousal level of your present environment.

Being conscious of the things that increase your motivation and that decrease your motivation is necessary if you are to maximize your motivation. So be conscious of these things; achieving your dreams is much easier when you are motivated.

Bob A. Prentiss, the Non-Motivational Speaker, is the creator of the Model for Self Motivation and the author of the soon to be released book, iMotivateMe. To find out more about the Model for Self Motivation, and how it can help you achieve your goals and make your dreams come true, visit Bob at Follow Bob on Twitter @motivateyou

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