Motivation 101

My mother is a very successful cancer scientist. She was born in Iran and immigrated to the US when she was 18 to go to an Ivy League school. Her sister, born with 50% of the same genes, grew up in the same environment, older, yet never did much with her career. Why did these two women have such different priorities regarding their achievement when it came to work? Clearly, individual differences played a part, but what else comes into play to motivate a person to achieve?

We see these kinds of differences all of the time, in the classroom, on the playing field, at work. We see children who will work hard at a goal and continue in the face of failure while others give up at the first sign of difficulty. The children who are persistent often are the adults who succeed. What kinds of variables and practices come into play that motivate a child to work hard to achieve their goals? Psychology has examined this question and although there is no clear cut answer, many plausible theories have been proffered. In the next few blogs, I will discuss some of these theories. I have been trying some of the methods on my own children, sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, but usually through some combination of what I’ve learned, I’ve been able to motivate my children to work towards their goals.

As I said there is no easy formula and answer, but I hope what I’ve learned may be useful for parents. And you never know when you might need your own kick in the pants!


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