Self-control, or specifically, willpower, has been dubbed a limited resource. The more we use it to complete one task, the less we have for the next one, and by the end of the day, willpower may be so drained that those impulses we seek to resist don’t have much of a chance.
But what about the things we are motivated to do? Interestingly, a new study done by researchers at University of Toronto shows that self-control may be highly influenced by how motivated we are.
As Dan Randles, a postdoctoral fellow in Professor Michael Inzlicht’s lab at U of T Scarborough notes, most studies on self-control depletion have been done in the lab, and some, including studies on glucose, may not translate so easily to real life conditions.
Working with Iain Harlow, Vice President of Science at the adaptive learning company Cerego, Randles and Inzlicht gathered data from more than 16,000 students who completed voluntary learning and review exercises over several months using Cerego’s adaptive learning platform. The researchers found that people experience worsened ability while doing a single difficult memory task, and that their performance begins to decline around the 30-minute mark with a notable drop in performance around 50 minutes.
However, the researchers found no evidence that ability to complete the task decreased throughout the day, and in fact found that motivation to complete it actually increased (Harlow et al., 2018).
One explanation for this, Randles notes, could be that we have several longer-term goals to achieve and that we’re sensitive to putting in enough effort to complete them all. So too much effort in one task may rob other important goals (Randles, 2018).
This may be just one of the ways that we mistake the role – and the determinants – of motivation. And because motivation plays a central role in our lives – often moving toward our goals – understanding motivation and the forces that act upon it becomes imminently important for clinicians who work to help clients reach their goals.
Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:
Motivation: Igniting the Process of Change is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that explores how we can tap into, ignite, and harness our motivation to create lasting change. Motivation today is one of the most coveted traits, thought to underlie our business success, athletic prowess, and even weight loss. But just how do we motivate ourselves? How do we ignite and harness our own motivation to achieve our goals? How do we call upon our motivation when we need it the most? And how do we keep motivation alive to create the lives we want? This course will explore these questions, and many more. We will begin with a discussion about why clinicians need to know this information and how this information can be helpful in working with clients. Next, we will look at the research behind motivation, decipher between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, and explore the roots of what keeps us motivated now, and over time. Lastly, we will learn the powerful skills needed to create a spark – that is to teach your clients to ignite and harness their own motivation to face fears, make decisions, take action, and create lasting change. Exercises you can use with clients are included. Course #31-03 | 2018 | 46 pages | 20 posttest questions
Motivating Children to Learn is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that provides strategies and activities to help children overcome their academic and social challenges. This course describes the various challenges that can sidetrack children in their developmental and educational processes, leaving them with a sense of discouragement and helplessness. Such challenges include learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, behavior disorders, and executive functioning deficits. Left unchecked, these difficulties can cause children to develop the idea that they are not capable of success in school, precipitating a downward spiral of poor self-esteem and – eventually – school failure. The good news is that much better outcomes can result when parents, teachers, and therapists engage children in strategies and activities that help them overcome their discouragement and develop their innate intelligence and strengths, resulting in a growth mindset and a love of learning. Detailed in this course are multiple strategies and techniques that can lead to these positive outcomes. Course #40-44 | 2018 | 77 pages | 25 posttest questions
In the Zone: Finding Flow Through Positive Psychology is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that offers a how-to guide on incorporating flow into everyday life. According to the CDC, four out of ten people have not discovered a satisfying life purpose. Further, the APA reports that most people suffer from moderate to high levels of stress, and according to SAMSHA, adult prescription medication abuse (primarily to counteract attention deficit disorders) is one of the most concerning health problems today. And while clinicians now have a host of resources to mitigate distress and reduce symptomatology, the question remains: how do clinicians move clients beyond baseline levels of functioning to a state of fulfillment imbued with a satisfying life purpose? The answer may lie in a universal condition with unexpected benefits… This course will explore the concept of flow, also known as optimal performance, which is a condition we are all capable of, yet seldom cultivate. When in flow we experience a profound and dramatic shift in the way we experience ourselves, our capabilities, and the world around us. Our focus sharpens, our strengths are heightened, we feel an intense sense of euphoria and connection to the world around us, and we often realize capabilities we didn’t know were possible. For clients, flow doesn’t just help them become more capable, it dramatically improves their lives – teaching them not just to expect more from themselves, but how to cultivate the very conditions that make expecting more possible. This course, packed with exercises, tips, and tools, will demonstrate just how flow can be incorporated into your everyday life, and used to help your clients move from simply surviving to a life that harnesses and builds upon their own unique potential to thrive. Course 21-11 | 2016 | 30 pages | 15 posttest questions
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Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).
Target Audience: Psychologists, Counselors, Social Workers, Marriage & Family Therapist (MFTs), Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs), Occupational Therapists (OTs), Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs), School Psychologists, and Teachers