Motivation is not an easy topic for most people. In this day and age, procrastination runs rampant on the streets of society. We are raised to believe that the most natural path is the one that we should take and that we should use whatever means necessary to get the job done the quickest. However, what happened to the right way of doing things? What happened to our self-motivation?
It is all too easy to get caught up in the fast-paced lifestyle that we live in today, and we often forget to ask ourselves the most straightforward questions. Why are we here? What are we doing with our lives? Are we enjoying the path that we are currently on?
I want to help guide you toward those answers, but to do so I need you to tap into what is known as your “Locus of Control.” Your locus of control is merely defined as
“the capacity to which you believe you have complete control and power over what happens to you in your life.”
In layman’s terms, do you think that you have much, if any, effect on what happens in your life?
Julian Rotter is the psychologist who first came up with the term as he believed that a person’s locus of control varied by the individual. As Rotter hypothesized in his theory, the locus of control could occur on either an external spectrum or an internal one, and each person fell somewhere on that spectrum. Depending on where you find yourself on this spectrum of locus of control, your behaviors to your external environment will differ.
So, what is the big difference? When you fall on the stronger side of the external locus of control, you are more likely to believe that all of your achievements and abilities are beyond your control. They have been granted to you by chance or luck. For example, if you did a particularly great job at work and received praise, you might think it is merely your bosses being nice to you, or based on the work that others had done to support you.
However, if your locus of control is centered internally, then you believe that your failures and your successes are all done by your own hand. You will push yourself harder to make accomplishments in life. So if you were praised at work for something you submitted, you would believe that it was by your own diligent work that you earned that praise.
Here’s the good news. No matter where you fall on this spectrum, you still have the ability to switch between external and internal locus of control. You control the way that you perceive the world, and you have full control over that.
If you already know where you predominantly lie, great! If not, Julian Rotter has devised a scale that you can test yourself on. This scale is called Rotter’s I-E scale. When you are interacting with other people, you want to make sure that you are exercising the best locus of control for the situation. While a strong internal locus of control is beneficial to your work ethic (this is where that motivation comes in), using your external locus of control offers you some great benefits as well.
While searching for the balance between your internal and your external locus of control can be tricky, I have a few tips and tricks that might make it easier for you as you are navigating this path. Take a moment and remind yourself about some key factors when you are struggling with your locus of control. Feeling like you are losing power over your life is never a great thing, so tell yourself that you have the right to feel the way you are feeling, and you also have the right to remove or change the situation.
In this life, there are going to be a hundred different factors that you will not be able to control. That is a true statement and one that you need to begin accepting. This is where you can start to practice balancing your external locus of control and your internal. Your external locus of control will help you recognize that there are some things you cannot control in life, and your internal locus of control will help you hone in on the items that you can control and impact change with.
Let us go back to our workplace example. You cannot control what other people do. That is beyond your realm of control; otherwise, no one would have free will. So, if you are working on a group project and someone else is slacking, you need to accept that you cannot change that. What you can change is reliant on you. You need to shift into your internal locus of control and motivate yourself to make your part of the work shine and do the best of your ability with your job.
It can be frustrating having to work with and deal with other people, particularly when your work is reliant on them. At times, if the group environment is laissez-faire, then you too can get sucked into that attitude if you focus too much on your external locus of control. However, if you just begin to remind yourself that you have power over your actions, your attitude, and your outputs, then you will feel your motivation rev into gear and propel you toward completing the tasks that you are supposed to have done.
You might not know what your destiny is yet or what the world has in store for you, but what you can control is your everyday outputs and how those outputs translate into the realization of your bigger goals.
Think about this concept for just one moment. What motivates you? What drives you toward the goals that you had initially set for yourself? Did you always believe that you had no control over anything that you did? Life is certainly not predestined for us from the moment we are born. Your attitudes and actions influence not only how you are treated, but what kinds of results you get from your work.
I am not simply talking about the work that you do in your professional environment, but in your home life too. Maybe your motivation is to provide a better life for your family. That is something you have control over. You can’t control what the people around you do or the phases of the moon, but you can control what actions you take and how those will affect your family’s lifestyle.
In a world where procrastination is at the forefront of almost every movie that is marketed to our generation and plastered all over social media, how do you define yourself?
Motivation is described as
“the reason for acting a certain way or striving towards certain goals.”
I placed emphasis on the reason because that is one of the very first questions, I prompted you with. Why are you here? What are you doing with your life? These can be difficult questions to answer but you can often find your self-motivation through them. You do not need the world to tell you where to go, who to be, and how to act. You need to be guided by your own strong sense of purpose and that is why having a balance between your internal and external locus of control is so important. Balance is the art by which this life hangs on.
If you still struggle to understand the ways you control your locus of control, take a seat and write out a list. You need to focus hard on what you believe guides your life. When you fail at a task, who is to blame? Are you faulting chance or are you taking responsibility for where you fell short?
While your external locus of control provides you balance so that you do not feel the need to control every aspect of your life (this is impossible to do), your internal locus of control gives you the drive and dedication that you require to succeed in this life. When you have failed a particularly hard test, it is easy to give up and blame the test or the difficulty level. However, when you push yourself to do better, even if it is by one percent, that is you using your internal locus of control to motivate you in positive directions.
When you can accept that there are things you will never change, but understand that your actions are always within your realm of control then you will always have the motivation right at your fingertips. You might not be able to change when Monday comes around, but you can change your attitude to waking up on that Monday. Do you see where I am going with this? It is important to know how to exercise your locus of control properly because it influences the way that you handle all life has to throw at you. This includes the hard days, the stresses, and the good days. Do not let the idea of destiny control your life, but rather your own hands and attitude control where you go and how you do it.