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Archive for March, 2010

12 Mar 2010

by Noel

Hacking Motivation

Like most people there are parts of my job I don’t enjoy. Writing quotes, for example, is not my favourite activity. Recently I’ve been thinking about a way to “hack” my motivation, to make these parts of my job more interesting and enjoyable. Here are my ideas.

Self-determination theory posits that motivation derives from autonomy, relatedness, and competency. The first two are easy to come by in a small business. I’m my own boss and what I do is critical to the success of the business, and hence to my continued mortgage payments. So it seems the later is the limiting factor. This matches my experience; I can happily program for hours (days? years?) and I consider my pretty damn good at it. Writing quotes is painful and it takes me a long time to finish one. So perhaps if I can gain competency I’ll enjoy writing quotes more and thus become more motivated to complete them.

How does one gain competency? Deliberate practice is how. It may take 10000 hours to become an expert but I don’t need to be an expert quote writer, just a better one than I am today. Luckily thelearning curve suggests that I can get to a good level of competency with relatively little effort. So this is my hack for improving motivation: pick something I do often that I’m bad at and practice it in a fun way. For quote writing that might mean trying to write a good quote for a preposterous imagined product. If you enjoy the ridiculous like I do you’d probably find that fun.

I’m not actually going to practice quote writing right now as I have other big projects occupying me, but I intend to try this technique out in the future. I’ll let you all know how this turns out for me. Finally, if you try my technique I’d love to hear how it works out for you.

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