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What Makes You Tick?

What makes you do what you do?

I’m asking about all of it – the day to day things like brushing your teeth and I’m asking about that edgy chip from the rough that your buddies still can’t believe worked out.

Were you motivated by something or inspired to do it? Let’s take a deep dive into the difference.

Key motivation into google and I’ll bet something like, “the reasons one has for acting or behaving a certain way” will pop up. The rich psychological theory that has supported the concept of motivation suggests that motivation can come from something internal or external, and can be intrinsic or extrinsic in nature.

Internal: something that is not tangible but is still a concept you recognize as having meaning. Examples are thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes.

External: these are things in the outside world, tangible things you can understand through the use of your senses. Examples are money, trophies, or your favorite sandwich at the clubhouse after a round.

Intrinsic: the drive to do something for the sake of doing it. Example: waking up early to drive through the early morning fog even though your tee time is at 9am.

Extrinsic: the drive to do something for the sake of acquiring something you don’t already have. Example: the look you hoped to see on your buddies’ face after that edgy chip from the rough.

Motivation is tied to achieving a goal. You may have a short-term goal like sinking a 6-footer 10 times in a row before teeing off, or a long-term goal like lowering your handicap by two strokes by years end. Motivation is a way to jump start (and later understand) your ability to get something done. Intrinsic motivation is pure rocket fuel – if it lives inside you then find a way to keep that fire going.

Now turn your attention to the stepsibling of motivation: inspiration.

Loosely defined as, “being mentally stimulated to do something,” inspiration includes the basic components of motivation but takes a difference approach to helping you achieve more.

Psychologists tell us that inspiration comes down to three things: motivation, evocation, and transcendence. In plain terms it’s about having direction, it’s about something outside of your control causing a feeling, and it’s about perceiving your limits expanding. Let’s break it down a little more.

Unlike motivation, you need to understand that something triggers you to feel inspired toward a target, or the end game of where you direct your efforts. These triggers could be something small like the scent of the freshly cut grass that reminds you that the year’s opening round means something extra to you, or that beautiful sunset that helps you put things in perspective despite that double bogey you’d prefer not to remember. In this case, a thing (scent of grass, sunset) triggers a feeling like what you’re experiencing is about more than the strokes on the scorecard.

But hold on, how do you train something if the thing that triggers the whole process is seemingly outside of your control? The answer lies in two things: putting yourself in situations to feel inspired and finding ways to let the process unfold when you’re feeling it start.

First off, surround yourself with people who will help you grow. If that’s too soft for your liking, then consider putting yourself in situations where you’re likely to let yourself be challenged and face the possibility of failure. While there’s nothing “safe” about sacrificing the good to go for the great, you may surprise yourself if you let go of the opinion of others.

Secondly, if you’re feeling inspired to make a change in your life, let the process unfold naturally. While relinquishing some control may not feel good at first, remember that at the end of the day it’s about long-term growth and the more you restrict yourself the more you’re likely to burn out. If the inspiration is there, let it live and grow.

There are downfalls of both approaches. With motivation, if you’re not clear from the beginning on why you’re doing it – it’s hard to commit to it when time gets tough. In the case of inspiration, it’s hard to monitor and cultivate. Confused? Here’s my takeaway:

Know what motivates you and come to terms with it. If you feel inspired by something and it doesn’t conflict with your values, go with it and don’t ask too many questions. Both have a place in your golf bag and both with help you play better and feel better about what happens. But if this isn’t enough and you need to get to the bottom of it – shoot me a call or an email and let’s talk about it.

The course are opening and the weather is getting nicer – let’s get after it!

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