The Relationship Between Self-Control and Motivation Is the Key to Achieving Goals

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Attitudes, motivation, and goals are used to achieve change — preferably personal success. As shown in the research by the psychology professors, Hess and Pickett, attitude is defined as “general evaluations of things that can bias us toward having a particular response to it.” Motivation is a deep inner drive to achieve a goal while a goal is an ideal that represents a need or a want that hasn’t been achieved.

The journal article, “The Rocky Road From Attitudes to Behaviors: Charting the Goal Systemic Course of Actions,” includes how attitudes and motivation affect the pursuit of our goals because “the strength of the attitude-behavior relationship varied as a function of individuals’ perceived vested interest on the attitude issue, with those who had more vested interest displaying higher attitude-behavior consistency.”

The preferences that come with attitude make a person prone to wanting a certain goal. Without the force of motivation, the lack of consistency is likely to result in choosing not to follow through with a goal midway or even failure to consider a goal in the first place.

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Self-control is the ability to control one’s own feelings, the actions related to those emotions, and being able to ignore temptations. According to the research by Cleanthous and Christodoulou, self-control is a learned ability through reinforcement learning because “the networks learned that it is for their own benefit to compromise in order to maximize their long-term reward.”

The use of self-control in order to be motivated enough to pursue a goal can be promoted by the regular use of self-monitoring and self-presentation. Self-monitoring involves an emotional understanding of others within a social situation while self-presentation is the behavior that is mimicked or applied in order to make a beneficial impression and increase social status, as was stated in the Principles of Social Psychology.

As the psychology researchers, Fishbach and Touré-Tillery, mentioned, an individual can increase the likelihood of demonstrating self-control in achieving their goals by self-regulating; self-regulation involves changing one’s behavior by giving up short-term pleasure for long-term success.

According to the Principles of Social Psychology, success and failure in the pursuit of a goal can also depend on locus vs. stability; the locus relates to a personal trait or the current situation while stability relates to how long-term that trait or situation can be.

Self-control may be most helpful in a situation involving external locus with stability or one involving internal locus and instability.

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My motivation and self-control, for better or worse, are influenced by the current state of self-esteem that I possess at that point in time. Self-esteem involves how negatively or positively I view myself, and this can change regularly depending on successes and failures, but some people are more emotional than others — like me.

I am motivated by the idea that I can find complete understanding and meaning while influencing people and animals in some way — that is my goal. It changes regularly when it comes to the details because I am open to new ideas that fit within that moral or ideal. It may seem as if I am still in the process of finding an identity since I am still adjusting social roles with regular changes to my short-term goals and values.

Other difficulties involve plausibility since in order “to adopt a given goal one needs to infer from appropriate evidence that the state of affairs in question is sufficiently desirable and attainable — which is mentioned in “The Rocky Road From Attitudes to Behaviors: Charting the Goal Systemic Course of Actions.”

I do not want to be motivated to follow goals that are not realistic, but this can result in a lack of change.

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Self-control has also sabotaged my ability to pursue my goals in the past. I have a tendency to become my own personal Führer with a psychological whip in one hand and a checklist in the other. This involved taking self-regulation to an extreme.

For example, in order to become thin several times in the past, I would avoid eating anything I considered unhealthy, and I made sure to log in a minimum amount of exercise on a daily basis. After a while, I gave up all forms of temptation, but I would stop eating for days, and I would exercise for excessive amounts of time.

These moments were an example of durability bias because I kept expecting to feel more positive about how much slimmer I became, but it was never enough.

I did not expect the results of my actions to last as long as they did when it came to the negative side effects. At first, I had self-control, but then it became inverted, and I lost all control. I have managed to keep myself from extreme goals, lately, but they never began as desirable or attainable — each success, partnered with a low self-esteem, resulted in this excess.

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An example of how self-control is aiding in pursuing my goals is the use of mindfulness techniques and containing my heavy emotions. I am currently in the process of self-improvement, and I noticed how Dan McAdams revealed that this kind of attempt “at changing one’s traits to become a more effective social actor — are sometimes successful, but they are very hard.”

The psychology professor, Dan McAdams, mentioned neuroticism as an example, and that is a dominant trait that I am trying to minimize with self-control. Besides receiving therapy which has provided some mindfulness techniques, there is a difference between mindfulness while alone versus mindfulness within a group setting.

I am currently planning to apply more self-control and mindfulness when in public by ignoring the temptation to hide and avoiding the urge to not socialize in the first place.

“It is the chiefest point of happiness that a man is willing to be what he is.” ~Erasmus |

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