What makes the difference between those people who are very inspired to achieve something and those who are not so determined? Those who do almost everything to excel and succeed by putting in a lot of effort and those who don’t work as hard and for whom it is not that important?
The difference lies in the motivation for achievement.
It can be defined as
- Having a strong desire to accomplish something
- Striving for a standard of excellence
- Expending effort in order to excel
- Having an appetite to accomplish a difficult result
- Being driven to outperform others
According to research by David McClelland it has been found that people with a high motivation for achievement work harder, are more future oriented, more innovative, more persistent and they desire success much more than they fear failure. An interesting point is also that they attribute success to internal factors (like optimists do) as opposed to external factors (as do pessimists). In terms of choosing their challenge they have the ability to distinguish a suitable task as being challenging but not impossible. This means that they choose their task wisely and therefore experience the satisfaction of reaching their goals. People with a low motivation for achievement interestingly either choose tasks that are too challenging, in which they are more prone to fail, or tasks that are too easy, in which there is not enough stimulation.
Can you train Motivation for Achievement?
Experiments have shown that humans indeed can learn to become more achievement motivated. You can even learn and teach it to yourself.
As with any behavioral change it is a process over time. Firstly, practice choosing tasks or set goals that are at a suitable level: challenging and yet achievable. Secondly you put more focus on and celebrate your successes rather than being focused on and frustrated about your failures. Thirdly you need to practice being persistent.
Which one of the three steps mentioned here do you want to focus on and in which way is it achievable and still challenging for you?
Like the Japanese proverb says: ‘Fall down seven times, get up eight.’