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Insights / April 17, 2017

Apply the Self-Determination Theory

By David Munkvold

This week, apply the self-determination theory to help a friend or colleague find the motivation they need to do something!

The self-determination theory of motivation states that there are three necessary elements to motivation: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Without one of these pillars, it is difficult to find the motivation to get something done or work toward a goal.

In terms of autonomy, being ordered to do something can often reduce one’s desire to act because it is important for us to be in control of our own behaviors and actions. Instead of telling someone to do something, remind them why they wanted to do it in the first place! Incompetence is a huge confidence killer and whether real or perceived, this feeling can curb anyone’s enthusiasm about a project or idea. If you notice someone struggling with motivation because they don’t think they are capable, express your belief in them and/or provide some resources to help them overcome the obstacle that makes them feel incapable.

It is also important for us to feel connected with other people, and that’s why it can be hard to do something that no one else is doing, or that no one will understand. If you see someone shying away from a great idea because they don’t feel shared excitement, tell them that you support them and their perspective, or even offer to do that behavior with them!