Motivation and Self-Determination Theory

Summary: “Humans are intrinsically motivated by three psychological needs: Autonomy, Competence and Relatedness.”

According to self-determination theory, humans are innately and intrinsically motivated by three psychological needs: autonomy, competence and relatedness.

Therefore, as a leader, parent, spouse, or friend, if you support these psychological needs you will more likely create positive outcomes among those you lead, or are trying to help. If you thwart these needs, you will more likely produce negative outcomes.

Autonomy means a person feels a reasonable sense of control over their circumstances. They feel free to make their own choices and free to nurture their authentic selves.

Competence means a person feels some sense of mastery over things that are important to them.

Relatedness means a person feels as if they matter to others important to them.

When people feel a sense of autonomy, competence, and relatedness, their performance typically improves, they are more persistent and they are more creative.

Look to the three elements of self-determination theory when you want to develop strategies to create a motivational environment for those you lead or want to help.

Also seek, and if necessary ask for, these three things if you want to become or remain a highly motivated individual (see separate posts on Autonomy, Competence and Relatedness).

If you want to know more about all of this, consider reading Why People Do What They Do by Edward Deci. It’s relatively short, readable, and one of the best books I have encountered on the topic of motivation.

Learning more about self-determination theory is a good way to joyfully participate in life.

Joyfully participate in life today…Chris

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