Motivation is the force behind our behavior. It’s the reason we act or perform in a particular way each day and is driven by various types of stimuli both internal and external. Two key factors that guide our motivation are autonomy and “locus of control.” The need for control is a biological imperative. In order to motivate, we must feel like we are in control. Motivation is a skill much like reading or writing that can improve if we practice the right way.

Autonomy: The capacity to be one’s own person, to live one’s life according to reasons and motives that are taken as one’s own and not the product of manipulative or distorting external forces.

Locus of Control: The degree to which people believe that they have control over the outcome of events in their lives, as opposed to external forces beyond their control. (In another way: Belief you can influence your destiny through the choices you make.)

Ways to Improve Locus of Control (from VeryWellMind)

1. Practice making choices.

Choices can be liberating and empowering. Each choice we make, no matter how small, reinforces the perception of control and self-efficacy. We are more likely to perform difficult tasks when we are aware that we are making decisions.

2. Ask questions that begin with “why.”

Make a chore into a meaningful decision and self-motivation will emerge. Approach choices not just as expressions of control but affirmations of our values and goals. This will link small tasks to large aspirations.

3. Review your options.

When you feel trapped, make lists of possible courses of action.
Brainstorm without evaluating to tap into creative decision making.

4. Ask for Ideas.

Explore options with friends or someone that you trust. Again, write those
ideas down without evaluating. You can also search for options online.

5. Choose what’s best for you.

Go back through the list of options and evaluate what decisions are best for you right now.

6. Remember your choices.

7. Monitor your self-talk.

Self-talk is often negative and we sometimes have a tendency to think in absolutes (“I can’t,” “I have no choice,” “I am not smart enough,”) Phrase your own experiences in terms of choice and self-determination (“I choose to,” “I choose not to,” “I’m learning,” “I’m working hard”).