satisfaction, interests, pleasure, dislikes, established habits, goals,
ambitions and so on. All at the same time. In the next major sections
of this chapter we will deal with questions like: Why don't we do what
we want to do? Can we prevent unwanted behaviors, like addictions
and bad habits? Why is our behavior so hard to understand? How can
we stop procrastinating? In this section, however, we will focus on
increasing our drive to achieve our more worthwhile goals, as
discussed in chapter 3.
Changing involves both knowing how (learning) and wanting to
(motivation). It is important to see that learning is different from
performing. A hungry rat in the laboratory will work diligently to
discover how to get food. It learns how and vigorously performs, i.e.
eats until it's stuffed, then it stops. The rat's eating behavior, after the
initial learning, is determined by its hunger needs. We humans are the
same; to grow and develop new behaviors we must learn. But, in
terms of how far we get in life--how much we accomplish--motivation
may be just as important if not more important than learning. We
already know how to lose weight (don't eat) or get A's or give
generously to others. A common barrier to accomplishing many goals
in life is not wanting the goal enough to give it the necessary time and
effort (or conning ourselves into believing we can reach our goal in
some easy way).
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than
unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost
a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is filled with educated derelicts. Persistence and
determination alone are omnipotent.
-Calvin Coolidge, former President of the United States
Edison: genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.
Atkinson: achievement is 50% ability and 50% drive.
Motivation gets you started, habit keeps you going.
Occasionally, a person will have enormous determination to
achieve something requiring great effort over a period of years. It is
emotionally moving to hear about such a person who has overcome
great obstacles to achieve an impressive goal. Glenn Cunningham was
told as a boy that he would never walk on his badly burned legs; he
became a great miler. How do you get the drive to go to college at age
35, work full-time, care for three children, and graduate with honors?
The same way Rebecca Lee in 1864 became the first black woman
physician: you work to accomplish your dreams. There are many,
many inspiring examples of great achievements. Yet, psychology can't,
as yet, guarantee high drive or prescribe a cure for laziness.