Self-talk is a huge part of motivation. All of the mechanisms could be in place externally but without internal motivation, you’ll still fall short. So if you feel like you have all of the tools in front of you but still can’t work up the energy to start building your empire – your focus could be the reason why.
Dr. E. Tory Higgins & Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson found that a person’s motivation and the way they go about achieving a goal depends on their self-regulatory orientations toward either prevention or promotion. Regulatory focus theory (RFT) says that when a person realizes a “fit” between their goals and their activities, they will involve themselves more in what they are doing and “feel right” about doing it. This leads us to either promotion or prevention-focused goal achievement.
When tasks can be viewed as opportunities for advancement, the person has a promotion focus (prone to taking risk, work quickly, and think creatively). These are the people that play to win. For others, goals are viewed as responsibilities. These people are prevention focused (risk-averse, thorough, accurate) and play to not lose.
Having a prevention or promotion focus isn’t always either-or; researchers realize that people can do both. However, everyone has a dominant approach to life, so which sounds more like you?
You’re prevention-focused, if you: work slowly, prepare for the worst, are stressed by short deadlines, uncomfortable with praise or optimism, and feel afraid to mess things up. For you, pursing a goal feels like vigilance.
- You’re promotion–focused if you: work quickly, are great at brainstorming, are open to new opportunities, seek positive feedback, and are eager to get started. For you, pursuing a goal feels like eagerness or a desire to go for it.
Still unsure? Ask yourself these questions or take this short quiz:
· What motivates me- praise (promotion) or criticism (prevention)?
· Do I embrace risk (promotion) or avoid it (prevention)?
· Is my way of thinking abstract (promotion) or concrete (prevention)?
· Do I prefer speed (promotion) or accuracy (prevention)?
*Remember there’s no right or wrong between the two, only a preference.
Now, try this:
Think of a goal that you have. If you’ve decided that you are promotion-focused, make yourself a list of all the things that can go right if (and when) you achieve this goal. If you’re prevention-focused, make a list of all the things that you’ll miss out on if you don’t achieve this goal. Now, let your list be your guide (and motivation) to get this crossed off your to-do list, review it anytime you feel yourself struggling to find the fire within!