People always say that setting and achieving goals is essential for increasing your performance. I hate to break it to you, but they’re not wrong.
When you first set a goal, you are usually pumped about it. Why, then, do we often have trouble sticking with our goals through obstacles and setbacks?
To truly understand what makes “good” goal setting, we need to first understand motivation.
Source of Motivation
Motivation can be placed on a spectrum. On one end, we have external motivators – motivators that come from other people or things (e.g. rewards, punishments). On the other end, we have internal motivators – motivators that come from within ourselves (e.g. values).
Any type of motivator will work, but not all are created equally.
Let’s say, for example, I give you $50 every day you practice your eSport for 5 hours. That might keep you motivated and energized to grind away in solo queue. It will work for as long as 1) you stay motivated by $50 cash in your pocket and 2) I keep paying you.
What if I stop? Will you stop practicing? How will that impact your future as an eSport athlete?
While $50 is initially motivating, it won’t always work for long-term goal commitment. It also doesn’t let you stay focused on the present task – playing your eSport!
Here’s another scenario for you…
You are naturally motivated to practice your eSport. You grind through game after game to hone your skill. One day, you’re losing over and over. You can’t buy a win. Every game is filled with trolls and negative attitudes. How do you stay motivated then?
If you are focused on your losses or the negative attitudes of others, you might lose motivation. You are also less focused on your present task – playing your eSport!
When obstacles stand in our way of completing goals, we’re more likely to fail if we don’t have an understanding of why the goal is important in the first place. Why do we value the goal?
If we compare the motivation we feel when someone tells us to do laundry or clean dishes to how we feel when we get to play a game for fun, we can learn a great deal about motivation. Cleaning dishes probably feels slow, painful, and monotonous. When gaming, though, how many of us have had experiences where time flew by, it felt natural, and we enjoyed the experience? In one case, we’re waiting for it to be over – in the other, we’re living in the moment.
The reason for the difference is that, plainly, we are naturally motivated to do tasks we find enjoyable – tasks that connect with our values.
The power of internal motivation
To create powerful, sustained motivation, it is important to examine our values. If you were to place values or self-identity on the spectrum of motivation, they would be on the longer-lasting, internal end. The greatest thing about motivating ourselves with our values is that it comes from within! Unlike cookies or paychecks, we do not have to rely on someone else for motivation.
Take some time and think about the questions below. Our goal is to figure out what drives us to do the things we love. These questions are tailored for eSports, but feel free to adapt them to any other task!
- What type of teammate do you want to be?
- Why is that important to you?
- What do you value about your eSport? (e.g. challenge, fun, recognition, teamwork)
- Why do you want to improve as an eSport athlete?
- What aspects of being an eSport athlete do you care about most?
- Why do you care about them?
- Outside of eSports, what do you enjoy doing?
- Why do you find these activities enjoyable?
Give each question some serious thought. After recording your answers, reread them and see if any values pop out that explain your answers.
The values you identified are the not-so-magical formula for increasing your motivation to commit and accomplish your goals.
When we can align what we do with what we value, it is much easier to stay in the moment – to be truly mindful about what we are doing.
Remind yourself constantly
All of our self-reflection isn’t nearly as useful if we don’t stay reminded of what we value!
Right now, write down a list of the top 3-5 values you identified and post it next to your computer/television. Next time you face an obstacle in your eSport training, remind yourself why you value becoming a better eSport athlete and use that as motivation to press on.
Keep your values in mind next time you set a goal!
Let me know in the comments below how you will use your values to achieve a specific goal.
Deci, E. M., & Ryan, R. L. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Humans needs and self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227-268.
Gardner, F. L., & Moore, Z. E. (2007). The psychology of enhancing human performance: The Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment approach. New York: Springer Publishing Company.