motivation lackingWhile most people in business are probably aware of the importance of goals in their personal and business lives, the question remains, what stops people from achieving the goals they set.

While there are a number of reasons, one line of research that I’m focusing on in my Master Degree in Applied Positive Psychology is what’s known as Self Determination Theory or SDT.

There are three innate psychological needs that when they are all being met, both in our personal and working lives, will help us to function at our best. SDT has strong support throughout the field of applied positive psychology and was developed by Edward Deci and Richard Ryan. Their research has shown that the three psychological needs for competence, relatedness and autonomy help us to understand more about goal achievement or failure to achieve goals.

In this post I want to provide you with a brief understanding of the three needs, so that you can seek to understand their impact on your own goal achievement and life satisfaction, both at work and in your personal life.

Competence is about your innate need as a human being to learn and grow… if we’re not learning and growing as a person in our skills, knowledge and character, we are more than likely plateauing at best and at worst, stagnating.

Relatedness is about our innate need to be connected with others in caring and meaningful ways… isolation while at times may be personally sought, we are psychologically programmed to need others in our life.

Autonomy is about our need for free choice and the need for self-regulation. When we feel our life options are imposed on us rather than us having the freedom to choose and self-regulate, it has a negative impact on our motivation and wellbeing.

OK… so there are the three brief explanations of competence, relatedness and autonomy.

Your thought experiment for today is to think about your work life in the first instance and rate on a scale of 1=low and 10=high, the extent to which you believe your innate needs for competence, relatedness and autonomy are being satisfied on a daily basis. Then, do the same exercise for your personal life.

The key point is the impact that these three needs have on your motivation and wellbeing.

If we just look at motivation, you will tend to be more motivated in your personal and work life to achieve your goals if those goals satisfy the three needs of competence, relatedness and autonomy. If your goals (or goals imposed on you) do not satisfy those three psychological needs, you’ve now discovered at least one reason (and the Self-Determination Theory would suggest the main reason) why you may not be achieving your goals.

By the way, if you’re a manager/leader/business owner or in HR, the impact of these three elements in any work role is paramount to the success of your team and peak performance for your business… and if you’d like to chat about their impact and what to do about it, get in contact with me.