Psychological Self-Help

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increased if we spent more time doing things that are often not seen
as urgent but truly are important, e.g. clarifying the major purpose of
our life, developing relationships that facilitate efficiency, growth, and
meaningfulness, planning and preparing for important upcoming tasks,
reading, exercising, resting, etc. He tells a story about a traveler who
comes upon a hard working person sawing down a tree and asks,
"How long have you been sawing on this tree?" The tired, sweaty
worker said, "A long time, seems like hours." So, the traveler asked,
"Why don't you sharpen your saw?" The reply was "I'm too busy
sawing!" A lot of us are sawing with a saw that needs sharpened. We
need to know a lot more about the processes of motivation and self-
direction. 
Challenging-but-achievable goals are themselves motivating. On
the other hand, easy-to-reach goals are boring and/or demeaning.
Impossible goals are frustrating (and there are lots of impossible
goals, in contrast with the "if you can dream it, you can achieve it"
nonsense). Since challenging but realistic goals require us to stretch
and grow, they must constantly be changed to match the conditions
and our ability. We are most motivated when we feel capable,
responsible, self-directed, respected, and hopeful. 
Theories About the Need for Achievement
The desires to succeed and to excel are called achievement needs.
Achievement motivation is basic to a good life. Achievers, as a whole,
enjoy life and feel in control. Being motivated keeps us productive and
gives us self-respect. Where and how achievement needs are learned
are complex, intriguing, and important questions. David McClelland, et
al. (1953) and John Atkinson (1981) have contributed greatly to this
area of study. They began by developing a measure of the need to
achieve. Using the TAT, a test which asks you to make up stories
about pictures, they found that persons with high achievement needs
can be identified by the stories they tell, namely, more stories about
striving for excellence, overcoming obstacles, or accomplishing some
difficult goal. Other researchers (Jackson, Ahmed, and Heapy, 1973)
suggested that achievement needs are made up of several factors: 
1. Wanting approval from experts
2. Wanting to make money
3. Wanting to succeed on our own
4. Wanting respect from friends
5. Wanting to compete and win
6. Wanting to work hard and excel 
Thus, one high achiever might strive primarily to make money
while another person, equal in overall need to achieve, would
concentrate on gaining respect and status from friends, and so on,
depending on our past experience. 
How do we learn to have a high or low need for achievement? It
comes partly from our childhood. Although the conclusions are not
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