About motivation.


This TED talks blog entry has some really interesting notes about motivation, from a purely experimental perspective.I really like this particular point:

The less appreciated we feel our work is, the more money we want to do it

The Study: Ariely gave study participants — students at MIT — a piece of paper filled with random letters, and asked them to find pairs of identical letters. Each round, they were offered less money than the previous round. People in the first group wrote their names on their sheets and handed them to the experimenter, who looked it over and said “Uh huh” before putting it in a pile. People in the second group didn’t write down their names, and the experimenter put their sheets in a pile without looking at them. People in the third group had their work shredded immediately upon completion.

The Results: People whose work was shredded needed twice as much money as those whose work was acknowledged in order to keep doing the task. People in the second group, whose work was saved but ignored, needed almost as much money as people whose work was shredded.

The Upshot: “Ignoring the performance of people is almost as bad as shredding their effort before their eyes,” Ariely says. “The good news is that adding motivation doesn’t seem to be so difficult. The bad news is that eliminating motivation seems to be incredibly easy, and if we don’t think about it carefully, we might overdo it.”

via What motivates us at work? 7 fascinating studies that give insights | TED Blog.

I think nobody likes when work is wasted.To me it feels much worse than a bad feedback or any kind of criticism. It feels like it wasn’t worth it. I call that task interruptus. A task that I thought it was really important, with a clear purpose and goal, and then, at some point is thrown away for whatever reason. Working in a creative task involves lots of iteration and possibly wasted work. How do you cope with that and still get motivated each morning? You may point to the opposite case, what if your work is not creative and monotonous? How can you find motivation in that?.  Where is the middle ground between enough interesting things to do, not getting bored, and being able to experiment and iterate (and possibly waste) on your work? Why there is people who can get self motivated? Why others need some extra push from someone to continue? Do you get motivation on stressful situations? Is money the real motivator? Or is it something more personal? And lastly, why I am doing all these questions?

Of course, during the process you learn. That’s the only thing that remains. For me the biggest motivator is learning. And someone said that art was never finished, but abandoned. It’s applicable to any creative field, I think.

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