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How To Stay Motivated – The Locus Rule

A study was conducted in 1998 at Columbia University by a professor Claudia M Mueller she took a large group of fifth graders and had them work on numerous puzzles by themselves now these were very challenging puzzles but regardless of how well each child did he or she was told that they scored very well that they did better than most of the other kids afterward half of these students were told that they scored high because they worked hard while the other half were told that it was all because they were smart and gifted then they presented each student with three more types of puzzles to work on easy one’s medium difficulty ones and extremely challenging ones and what they found was very interesting.

the students who were told that they did well because they were smart spent the majority of their time on the easy puzzles they spent almost no time on the extremely challenging puzzles and spent much less time overall trying to solve any of the puzzles which was a sign of lower levels of motivation and to top it all off when asked whether or not they enjoyed the experiment they said that it wasn’t that fun for them on the other hand the students who were told that they did well because they worked hard spent the majority of their time focused on the harder puzzles they also spent a lot more time overall attempting to solve any of the puzzles which was a sign of an increase in levels of motivation and to top it all off after the experiment they said that they actually enjoyed the entire experience so what can we learn from this study well there’s a concept called the locus of control which is essentially the degree to which you believe you have control over your life the kids who were told that they did well because they were smart and gifted were led to believe in what’s called an external locus of control they were led to believe that factors outside of what they could control where the reason they did well right you can’t control whether or not you’re born smart on the other hand the kids were told they did well because they worked hard started to believe in what’s called an internal locus of control they believed that it was factors they controlled that led to their outcomes it was their hard work and their extra effort that allowed them to do well on the puzzles right because how much work you put into something is something that you have complete control over now studies on the locus of control like this one have found time and time again that having an internal locus of control is the key to staying motivated you must feel like you have control over your life and that you are responsible for the things that happen to you if you want to feel motivated all of the time I saw this happen with my own eyes back in the day when I was in charge of a sales team this wasn’t retail sales or car sales this was old-school door-to-door sales which has one of the highest turnover rates most people only last a week before quitting see you need to be an extremely motivated individual to be able to face hundreds and hundreds of rejections every single day before someone even considers buying something from you now over time I was able to develop a keen eye for who would actually last who I should spend more time and energy training all I had to do was ask a simple question when a new salesperson on my team was confronted with their first bad day a day in which they made no sales I would ask him why do you think you made no sales today and I would see how they would respond if they blame things like the weather the fact that it’s a weekend and nobody wants to be bothered on the weekends or because it was the neighborhood I would instantly know that they wouldn’t last because they had an external locus of control they believed that the reason they couldn’t make any sales was because of factors outside of their control and because of this they spent less time knocking on doors which was ultimately the real reason why they weren’t making any sales that’s the curse of having an external locus of control when you feel like nothing you do matters you stop working you stop trying cuz what’s the point of trying when the worlds conspiring against you right so how do we adopt an internal locus of control so that we can start feeling motivated all of the time well they found that the best way to do so is by simply solving problems in your own life and then taking some time in appreciating the fact that it was your actions that solve this problem I’ll give you an example just to make things more clear let’s say you’re someone who struggles with falling asleep so you go do some research and you find out if you get some more sunlight in the morning if you only use your bed for sleeping and if you install a blue light filter on your phone that should drastically increase your to sleep faster when bedtime comes around you do all of those things and lo and behold you find yourself sleeping 15 minutes faster than before when you notice this improvement you need to say to yourself wow it was because of the changes I made because of the effort I put in that I am now able to sleep better it’s that simple build up that belief that you are in control of your destiny that you have an internal locus of control and you will never have issues with motivation in your life again.

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