It seems we are always being asked to do more with less. Employers expect higher productivity. Coaches and fans expect more wins. Contractors add higher goals for less money. We expect more weight loss and better fitness with less effort. Oh, and yes, make that long term and sustained. How do we get motivated to do all of this? Does "stretching" our goals inspire us to do better for longer?
The manifestations of motivation are persistent attention and effort to a priority or goal. People sometimes seem to have an innate reluctance to do the right thing- take care of their health, seek extra education, save for retirement and create new solutions. Mark Twain noted, "The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not." Younger children seem to do things for the fun of it; they bounce back up and charge forward faster after a fall or misstep. Perhaps replacing judgmental restrictive environments with more encouragement and nurturing could restore natural curiosity and enjoyment of learning and growing.
Educators and employers seem to work on the premise that rewards (gold stars, incentives) and punishments (time out, penalties) will drive sustained behavior changes for the better. Indeed, for simple tasks of short duration, they do work. For instance, a national pizzeria chain collaborated with public schools to offer children who read for 20 minutes every day for one month a coupon for a free pizza; more children read. The program's goal was not to feed children; the goal was to get children to do the behavior long enough to experience the intrinsic joy of reading for themselves.