We all know that if not motivated, we will probably face the burdens of life “without pleasure” and therefore, the results we get will be quite scarce. In these cases we hear the classic phrase: “you lack of motivation”. But... what happens when, on the contrary, we have an excessive motivation? It's a possibility that we do not consider very often.
In this regard, the Yerkes-Dodson law can offer an explanation. Even if I normally look with suspicion the research of behavioral psychologists and ethologists, I must admit that sometimes these professionals can obtain particularly interesting results. It is the case of the experiment that gave rise to the above mentioned law. In that case the guinea pigs had to solve three problems with different degrees of difficulty: high, medium and low. What “motivated” the rodents to find a solution was the necessity to avoid the electric shock (if applied to human beings this experiment would be considered a torture).
Researchers realized soon that the intensity of the electrical discharge could favor the outcome of the experiment, but at the same time it could become an obstacle that prevented its realization. First conclusion: the intensity of motivation is directly proportional to the outcome of the experiment, but this proportion does not grow indefinitely. Second conclusion: when a peak too high of motivation is highlighted, this becomes an incentive to failure. There is, then, an optimum point of motivation that suggests two ideas:
1. To achieve anything we need to be motivated. At the beginning, the greater the motivation the more will be the chances of achieving the goal. However, when motivation exceeds a certain limit we usually fail.
2. The optimal level of motivation varies from one objective to another, depending on the level of complexity. Thus, in the most complicated tasks, the optimal motivation point is not very high, while in the most simple ones, excessive motivation appears to be a factor that often leads to failure.
In the graph below we can see how increases the personal efficiency with the increase of motivation, but starting from the optimal motivational point the level of performance goes down.
How to adapt the results obtained with guinea pigs to our lives?
Sometimes we are too strict with ourselves and constantly repeat us words like, “I definitely can’t go wrong”, “I will come back on my results as much as necessary, they must be perfect”. When we think this way, it appears excessive motivation and creates mental blocks, as proof of this it appears the phrase: “I'm stuck”. This happens when we prepare obsessively for an exam, a job interview or simply to impress someone.
Then, a small error in our mental program tortures us taking away our attention, making sure that our performance is not the one we desired. The result we get is far below our expectations, because of too much stress and the excessive motivation that exceeds the optimal level required by the activity we are involved into. Of course, the more complex a task is and much more relaxed we should be, because we need to deploy all our psychological resources to cope with the task.
This often happens in the sphere of sexuality, and in fact, it turns out to be one of the explanations of the phenomenon known as: sexual performance anxiety. In fact, one of the causes of impotence, erection problems and premature ejaculation, it is simply the excess of motivation generated by thoughts related to the sexual act.
The solution? Once we are aware that over-motivation is an enemy of success, we understand that we have just to relax. We must not remain tight to the almost maniacal desire for perfection, because this leads us to commit avoidable mistakes. We should strive to think positively repeating us phrases such as: “this is what I could do now, tomorrow I will strive to improve my skills”.
Success is not a goal but rather a path made of many stages, during which we will fall and we will rebuild, we will get back and start again, but we will never allow that fear of failure triggers the excessive motivation that will minimize our chances of succeeding.
Excessive Motivation: An underestimated enemy
4/ 5Oleh Jennifer Delgado