We all know that if we are not motivated to undertake a task, we will probably execute the same “reluctantly” and therefore, the result and the success that we will achieve will be quite low. Then the accusatory phrase appears: “you lack motivation”, but… what happens when we have an excess of motivation? It is a possibility that we do not normally value but that is quite common.
The Yerkes-Dodson Law can provide us with an explanatory path. Although I do not normally observe with particular pleasure the investigations of behavioral psychologists and ethologists, I must admit that on many occasions these can yield particularly interesting results; such is the case of the experiment that gave rise to this law.
What does it postulate the Yerkes-Dodson Law?
The animals had to solve three types of tasks of different degrees of difficulty: high, medium and low. What “motivated” the rodents to the solution was to avoid an electric shock (it is worth clarifying that if this experiment were applied to humans it would be considered torture).
Thus, the researchers realized that the intensity of the electrical discharge could favor the success of the task, but could also become an obstacle to achieving its completion.
Conclusion number one: the intensity of motivation is directly proportional to the success of the task, but… this proportion does not grow to infinity.
Conclusion number two: when motivation peaks too high, it becomes a facilitator of failure. There is, therefore, an optimal point of motivation that leads us to two essential ideas:
1. To carry out any task it is essential to be motivated. Initially, the greater the motivation, the greater the probability of achieving the objective. However, when a certain motivational limit is exceeded, failure may appear.
2. The optimal level of motivation varies from one task to another, depending on its level of complexity. Thus, in the most complex tasks, the optimum motivation point is not very high, while in the simpler ones, excessive motivation is not a highly productive factor for failure.
How to find the optimal point of motivation?
On many occasions we are people who are too rigid with ourselves, in this way we fill ourselves with phrases such as: “I can’t do anything wrong”, “I will review my results as many times as necessary, they must be perfect”. When we think in this way, overmotivation appears and mental blocks develop, explained in the phrase: “I went blank”. This also happens to us when we obsessively prepare for an exam, a job interview, or simply to make a good impression on someone we will meet.
Then, a small slip that was not foreseen in our mental program, tortures us and steals our attention; making our performance not what we had planned. The result we obtain is far below our expectations because we stress ourselves too much, we over-motivate ourselves and we pass the ideal threshold demanded by the peculiarities of the activity that we had to carry out. Of course, the more complex a task is, the more relaxed we must be because we need to put all our psychological resources into action to face that activity.
This also tends to happen quite frequently in the sphere of sexuality, in fact, it is one of the explanations for the phenomenon known as: performance anxiety. One of the causes of the absence of erection and premature ejaculation is simply the over-motivation that has been generated around the sexual act.
The solution? If we know that overmotivation is the enemy of success, then it is enough to relax a little. We should not be tied to that quasi-maniacal desire for perfection because it leads us to make mistakes that are avoidable. We must think assertively: “This is what I have achieved so far, tomorrow I will make an effort to improve my results”.
Success is not a destination but a path to travel that consists of many stages, where we will suffer a few falls and setbacks but, let’s not let the fear of failure act as an overmotivator that leads us to minimize our chances of succeeding.