How to RAMP up your motivation

The new year has kicked off! We’re all getting back into the swing of things and ready to get the new year going. Well… maybe not all of us. Personally, this hasn’t quite been the case for me. It’s taken me a lot more energy than I expected to orientate myself and get tasks completed these first few weeks. This lead me to the great theories of….Motivation. When one thinks of motivation many of us may think it’s one internal force that drives us to persevere through tasks that we enjoy. I can openly share that I would have much rather been sleeping in this morning than being at the gym, but I was still motivated, pleasant or not.

I recently came across a professor (Barry Fishman) sharing a photo of a squirrel lying in the hot sun, asking if we thought the squirrel was motivated. Most would think not, but he followed it with something that has really stuck with me since: Yes, the squirrel is motivated, motivated to have a nap in the sun. This is one of the greatest misconceptions of motivation. The bottom line is, everyone is motivated, but maybe not to do the things you want them to do. So, if one could sit and play Mario Brothers for hours in the evening, why couldn’t one sit and complete important tasks? Even when the one is obviously more important to me than the other.

Andrzej Marczewski developed the R.A.M.P model of motivation (a combination of The Self Determination Theory by Deci & Ryan (2000) and The Drive Theory by Pink (2009) to cater for intrinsic motivation and how to design successful games using these principles. I want to share this model with you as it gives some great insight into our motivation in general, and why games keep us engaged. Andrzej’s R.A.M.P model comprises of relatedness, autonomy, mastery and purpose. These relate to intrinsic motivation, where the activity is pleasurable for its own sake and not external rewards.

Relatedness – the desire to be connected to others. Social status and true connectedness to others or to communities satisfies this desire. Having a community that enjoys their interactions with each other becomes the key to retaining their engagement and loyalty. It’s highly motivating when you feel that others value you as well as the contribution you make to your team, company, or community.

Autonomy – the need to feel agency, independence or freedom. Do we have meaningful choices available or are we forced to do things one way? People want to feel that they have some sort of control over what they are doing. Without some level of freedom, innovation and creativity will be stifled. Having options on how to do tasks goes a long way in having people engaged in getting the tasks done.

Mastery – the desire to learn new skills and develop expertise in them. It is important that we feel our skills are increasing in proportion to the level of challenge (also see theory of flow). This works when people are guided through training levels and the difficulty increases as you get better at the skill. People feel motivated when they can see the personal progress they are making, over and above the opportunity or challenge to progress in their skills in the first place.

Purpose – a feeling of greater meaning or desire to be altruistic. We want to feel that there is a reason for what we are doing, or that it has some greater meaning. Altruism is linked to purpose in that you put the welfare of others before your own. We need to have that greater “Why” that Simon Sinek is renowned for sharing. When we have the why; when we can remind ourselves of the higher reason for our actions or tasks, we can re-engaged ourselves and be motivated to push through.

Next time you, or your team are feeling a little low on motivation, try and play a game that highlights one of these principles to increase engagement and motivation. Also, next time you’re on your second hour of playing your favourite game think of which of these principles is being applied to keep you engaged. Would you like to learn more about the psychology of games and game-based solutions. and how to apply them in a practical way? Attend our Learning Lab in Gamification. 

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