We don't yet know why people use different strategies, but surely
we can learn to change our thinking about our possible selves and our
future, thus, changing our achievement motivation.
Likewise, different possible selves may explain why three people,
all interested in socializing with the opposite sex, might behave very
differently, e.g. one goes to parties or the bars every night, another
only goes to places where he/she already knows people, and a third
doesn't go out at all. There are many possible selves involved: "I'm
attractive," "I'm unattractive," "I'm shy," "I'm not likely to meet
anyone interesting," "All they are interested in is sex," "I'd like to be
the center of attention," "I can drink and have fun anywhere," "I don't
want to look like I'm on the make or loose," "I don't want to be seen
out alone," etc. We can change our self-concept, then our behavior (or
the reverse, see method #5).
The nature of a "weak will" seems to involve a conflict between (a)
being willing, for complex reasons in specific situations, to do the work
and make the sacrifices necessary to succeed and (b) resisting making
the effort, especially if we can excuse or con ourselves into believing
that it is okay not to try very hard. "I have no will power" is a cop out.
See the discussion of procrastination in chapter 4.
Probably one-third to one-half of all students have the intellectual
ability, under current conditions, to be "A" students, but two-thirds of
these potential "A" students are not willing to compete and do the
necessary work. Likewise, one-third of us have the musical talent to
play in a band, but most of us don't practice enough. We could play a
sport well or have great knowledge of history or know hundreds of
jokes or.... We know how to achieve these objectives, we just don't
want to badly enough, there are other things we would rather do.
So, there are several critical aspects of self-directed motivation:
One is deciding what you value--what you want to achieve--and how
much you are willing to invest to be successful. Second is making a
commitment to change, which includes arranging and recognizing the
wonderful pay offs of changing and the terrible disappointments of
failing to change (see step 4). Third is giving up the old way of
behaving and deciding how--step by step--to accomplish the goals you
value highly. This requires self-discipline, self-control, scheduling,
practice, and reinforcement (see chapters 4 and 11).
If, on the other hand, you decide you would sort-of-like-to change,
that is you have some high, maybe even noble aspiration but never
get much accomplished in that direction, you may simply be enjoying
having the goal but living a lie. Example: the person who wants to be
a music or sport star but only practices for 15 minutes two or three
times a week. The pleasurable fantasy is there and they tell everyone
"I want to be really good" but the commitment and passion are not
there. Most likely, such a person will never muster the drive or
motivation to get "over the hump" that stands in the way of all goals.