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Good Morning Families, today is Tuesday April 28th and it is now time for a moment of SEL.
Today we are beginning to bake our perseverance cookies, so we need the ingredients! Our first ingredient is motivation.
In order to really understand how perseverance works, it will help to have some basic awareness of motivation. Motivation is a condition inside us that desires a change. When you experience motivation, you can be moved to take action.
Motivation is like the energy you can use to achieve a goal, either because you want that goal or need that goal. Like I want to be a great drummer so I can use the energy that comes from my motivation to practice the drums. However, I need to eat so I can use the energy from that motivation to crush an entire tube of Pringles. Pickle Rick’s baby.
Motivation can also give you the energy to do something because of a want or need to avoid the consequence of not doing it. For example, I am motivated to not have our yard fall into the neighbor’s driveway, so I use that energy to build a retaining wall.
The language you hear in schools about motivation is borrowed from a variety of different fields of study including educational psychology, social psychology, organizational psychology, positive psychology, cognitive science, even neuroscience. If you want to learn a lot about motivation we would recommend visiting www.positivepsychology.com/what-is-motivation.
For us, motivation is the foundation of perseverance because without motivation to do something, there is nothing to persist at doing. However, you cannot rely only on motivation because, as you’ll see, sometimes perseverance is the thing that carries you when you feel as though you are “lacking” the energy of hot burning motivation. Wow. This is like the chicken and the egg.
Not really, it’s more like the egg, then the chicken, then the chicken sits on the egg, then the egg hatches and becomes another chicken that sits on another egg. They go together. And eventually, they wind up being part of the ingredients for cookies? Oh man, that got dark.
Motivation often comes from biological drives. Think about the need to survive. You can definitely find motivation in all types of survival. Think about eating, having water to drink, air to breath, having shelter, even building and maintaining strong and healthy relationships with others. We know humans need these things for survival of ourselves and our species.
But beyond simply surviving, there is a quality to life. Motivation can come from the essential needs of wellbeing. This would be like doing things that give you joy. Playing with friends. Doing fun things. Did you know, even getting a job that provides income at the level you desire so you can live the life you want. (I didn’t know that, I’m 11, but the old man tells me that all the time) Motivation can be the energy necessary to make those things happen.
Motivation in this way can be seen not just as necessary to survive, it becomes necessary to thrive. The SEL domain of social engagement is all about perseverance and motivation. The motivation to make things better for communities. Many motivated individuals and groups have worked, and in many cases, given their lives, to achieve a change that has bettered our nation. Thinking of American history, the early colonies were motivated, for a variety of reasons, to be independent of England. Waves and waves of people have been motivated to migrate to the united states.
Things like the development of industry and the labor movement, civil rights movement, the United Farm Workers Movement, the American Indian Movement, the marriage equality movement, the Me-Too movement, and Black Lives Matter movement. If you notice the word “movement” is used to describe these forms of social engagement because it best describes the action and application of the energy from motivation. All of the social improvements that have come from these movements stem from the personal motivation of the people involved. Also, none of these things would have brought any change if the people did not have the perseverance necessary to stay in the struggle.
In schools we often discuss motivation as related to goals and achievement. That is, we would ask students to identify something they would like to achieve. We would help them see that the desire to achieve this goal can be motivating. We would call this type of goal-oriented motivation work as competence or mastery. Teachers hold these goals for students all the time, even when the students themselves may not hold those goals.
But we also, either intentionally or not, provide students the opportunity to experience motivation in relation to others. We may label this type of motivation as a performance goal. as in motivation comes in relation to the comparison of a past personal performance or as comparison to others performance. Performance goals happen all the time in school and in our society. Anything that is normative is like this. And think back to social comparison. That’s all performance goal stuff.
Oh, and don’t forget a really big one in school which is also the “get off my back” motivation. That’s where you do something with as little effort as possible, but good enough so that everyone will “get off your back!” A very powerful form of motivation.
Okay, so you can see, motivation can be the initial energy you use to move toward some type of change. But it is important to know that it is natural for motivation to vary over time. Motivation for some desired change can be long term and short term. So, when you set a long-term goal, just know that there may be times, even days or weeks, where the motivation for completing that goal may be challenging to find. That can be where perseverance comes back in to play, this time supporting the motivation itself.
Here is a fun activity you can try at home, to help you discover some of your motivations. You may have heard of it as a “Vision Board”. Basically, it’s a collage of things that you find exciting or that bring you joy. If you have access to magazines that you can cut-up, you would find images of things you love, or things that you’d like to do and cut them out.
If you can, glue them into a collage, maybe on a larger piece of paper or a piece of cardboard. If you don’t have magazines, but you have access to a computer or phone, maybe you could find some images online. In fact, that’s pretty much what the App Pinterest is. It’s a Vision Board. Looking at collages of things you love can help you discover things that might present motivation for you.
Once you start to understand what motivates you, you’re on your way to discovering how deep your perseverance can go.
Okay, so that is a lot of information about the first thing in developing perseverance which is to start recognizing and understanding motivation. The more you start to explore what motivates you the more you’ll start to understand yourself. Also, the more you’ll be able to support your own understanding of motivation and how to begin to increase your experience with it.
Tomorrow we’ll start to unpack the second ingredient of perseverance which is strong self-esteem. Until that, we look forward to connecting with you, in whatever way we can tomorrow. Until tomorrow, may your thoughts and feelings be with you.