This is the follow up post to Defining a Long Term Plan and answers the other part of the question of how I stay motivated to train. Motivation is a funny beast that takes on a different forms for different people. An individual’s personality– their unique combination of drives, motives, preferences and avoidances– tell the story of what keeps them motivated.
There’s no better tool than Human Patterns to measure these preferences and interests, so let’s use the tool to help explain what and why people are motivated.
Identifying motivation-related personality characteristics in ourselves. Of course, there are nuances in our personalities that impact our goals and motivations, but the three categories below are key areas to self assess any time you are setting goals. Even if you know these things about yourself inherently, which you likely do, it helps to articulate them so you avoid wishful thinking or blind spots. It’s also important to know that our preferences can vary between familiar conditions and pressured conditions.
Identifying motivation-related personality characteristics in your athletes. For those of you who are coaches, you’ll want to think about these personality characteristics in your athletes. By implementing this kind of understanding about your clients, you will be able to make a bigger impact in their results and you’ll be a more valuable coach.
The Human Patterns (HP) categories that seem to relate most closely to how a person can best stay motivated to athletic (and other) goals are below along with the page numbers from the HP graph report. Under each category, I discuss the common preferences and what they mean for personal motivation, goal types and achievement.
Basic Motivations (p. 12). These preferences come from the DISC, for those that are familiar with that model, and attempt to describe drives and motivations using four basic categories. Typically, an individual will have a primary drive and often a secondary drive, but not always. The categories are:
- Controlling & Directing. This drive is consistent with an interest in taking charge of the environment, pushing ideas and goals, and tends to be competitive and daring. Racing and competitive performance goals will be highly motivating to these individuals. They are motivated by the opportunity to overcome obstacles and achieve.
- Discussing & Relating. This drive is consistent with an interest in actively persuading and charming people and generally be alert to social situations and approval. When it comes to athletic goals, the emphasis must be on the social aspect of training and racing. Plans should rely heavily on group training and events that allow them to expand their social circle.
- Supporting & Building. Those with this drive tend to be gentle and cooperative, concerned about maintaining relationships and keeping people comfortable. Athletic goals for this group should de-emphasize personal achievement and encourage team development. Plans should put these individuals into training pairs or small groups because they will be more motivated to continue for their partner’s benefit than they will for any personal competitive goal.
- Being Exact & Correct. This drive results in a person who is alert to changes, risk and potential for errors. These athletes are motivated by personal competence. Race goals will motivate rigorous planning and preparation to avoid failure. These athletes will be more comfortable than other groups doing their training solo so that they can do it JUST RIGHT and not be thrown off track by the group.
Type of Information Attended To (p. 18). There are different types of information that are relevant to giving and receiving instructions for a task or goal and we all have a predictable order of preference that we like to receive this information. We find it hard to recall information that precedes our top preference, so it’s important to get the information we need to best process and prepare ourselves for action. However, since not everybody has the same order of preference and we often give instruction in the way we like to receive it, we are left feeling puzzled pretty often. For goal setting, be sure to frame your goals using your top one or two information type preference to prevent unnecesary confusion or delays. Note that this is a different issue than the fundamental questions described in the previous post. The four standard types of information attended to are:
- Action Steps and Deadlines. Attention paid to succinct action-oriented directives and time frames. What do you need and when do you need it.
- Procedures. Attention paid to procedure and how something is to be accomplished.
- Ideas and Reasons. Attention paid to the reasons behind a decision and the why it fits in to the plan.
- Personal Reactions and Opinions. Attention paid to who is to perform parts of the task and the meaning it has for them.
Paths to Achievement (p. 13). These describe the ways which people believe they will achieve and succeed. Goals should be articulated with our preferred achievement paths in mind. In general, we have belief about what it takes to achieve which includes one or more of the following five categories.
- Conforming. Achievement by staying within the mainstream of values and beliefs that are core to my environment and social circle. This is the sticking with the program approach to achievement. For this motive, a huge key to success is surrounding yourself with people that demonstrate the values and outcomes that you hope to emulate. Nay-sayers in your circle of influence will have a negative impact on your outcome, so adjust accordingly.
- Independence. Achievement by keeping independent in my thinking and action. This is the well I’ll show you approach to achievement. Nay-sayers have less impact when confronted by someone with this motive and could even spur greater efforts to achieve to spite the doubters. Set goals that you feel will set you apart from the competition.
- Intellect. Achievement through clear and rational thinking. This is the problem solving and analysis approach to achievement. Goals should not be set without thinking through likely obstacles and how to best solve the problem at hand.
- Intuition. Achievement through use of instincts and intuition. This is the if it feels right do it approach to achievement. Goals that do not pass the intuition test should not be pursued because you’ll lack motivation and purpose.
- Adapting. Achievement by adjusting and adapting to changes in requirements and expectations. This is the respond to changes on the fly approach to achievement. Goals should not be set in stone and allow for adjustments within certain parameters as conditions change. For this motive, inability to change leads to feeling trapped which leads to low motivation.