Turning obstacles into opportunities | Sunday Observer
Positive motivation

Turning obstacles into opportunities

19 February, 2023

In our previous article on motivating the youth, we focused on some issues affecting youth and how they could be addressed. Motivating youth should begin at home and parents have a major role to play in this regard. One problem that we often encounter in this age of the smartphone and the Internet is that youngsters are hooked on these devices almost 24/7, with no time at all for interacting with their parents. Thus many parents do not know about the pressures and problems faced by their teenage or youth children. This could be rectified by setting aside a certain time period, say, dinner time, for conversing about the day’s events with the children. If they are found to be having any problems, the parents themselves can step into help or even direct them for outside counselling. In any case, parents should keep an eye on their children and guide them on the correct path.

Goal setting

Goals are also very important for motivating youth. Parents and teachers must set achievable targets for youth – not only in terms of passing examinations and getting good jobs, but also in terms of becoming better citizens overall. For example, gaining fluency in English could be an example for a goal that is eminently achievable. In this connection, it is vital to mentor youth on the correct path that should be pursued and to build trust. The generation gap may sometimes work against advice given by elderly citizens to younger ones. It is important to bridge this trust deficit.

But teachers, parents and religious dignitaries alone cannot motivate youth. A part of it should come from the youth themselves. They should have the drive and the desire to reach greater horizons. The determination to succeed can do wonders, along with self-belief. If a youth believes in himself or herself, the sky is the limit for such an individual.

Motivating factors

As for motivation itself, there are several types – some types of motivation come from within each individual while others are outside forces. Incentive motivation is one such “outside” force. Sometimes the youth may not be inclined to reach towards any goal without an incentive of some kind. It can be as simple as presenting a laptop to a student who gets very good grades at the GCE Advanced Level examination. That is an incentive to work harder towards the next goal of finishing university education.

Although not many will admit it, fear too can be a motivating factor for many people. We have heard parents telling their children that “you will not get a good job if you do not study well.” At work, the boss may tell a newly-recruited youth that no increments would be forthcoming if he or she does not discharge the assigned responsibilities well. The fear of failure or getting left behind is often a great motivating factor. But this should be handled judiciously, as the fear factor may actually work the other way and inhibit someone from performing in a better way. The solution lies in balancing fear and reward, so that the youth will be motivated to overcome their fears and go forward.

There is also a phenomenon called “power motivation” whereby youth (or any other group) can be encouraged to perform better until they can prevail over a segment of society. In a way, a youth who seeks to become a teacher displays power motivation, because becoming a teacher will enable him or her to control the destinies of thousands of students over several decades. Similarly, social motivation is another kind of motivational factor where one seeks to be accepted on equal terms by friends, colleagues or another social group.

Self-belief and self-determination, a must

But as explained above, none of these will work without self-belief and self-determination. According to experts in psychology, there are several types of so-called “intrinsic motivation” where one is motivated through several factors without any external help or input. The motivation to learn is one such factor. Many children, even without being coaxed by their parents, want to do well at exams so that they will be able to secure a well-paying job here or abroad. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be only about exams. As an example, one can be inclined to learn a foreign language just for pleasure and for self-development.

Having a positive attitude can be a motivational tool. If you feel negative about everything and life in general, you will not get anywhere. As the saying goes “if you can keep your head while everybody is losing theirs”, that will help you to get ahead in life. And positivity rubs off on other people too. If someone always harbours positive thoughts, the others around him or her will also feel those positive vibes. This is vital for everyone, but especially for youth who face so many challenges in today’s world.

Achievement motivation can be another valuable tool for youth. This is where one has an achievement in mind – “I will publish a book within the next three years” is a good example. Life is a series of achievements, so this is a way to reach one’s ultimate goals step by step. Youth are generally creative by nature, so the next one – creative motivation – will look familiar to many youth. There are many ways in which one can be creative – and one need not even have a so-called inborn talent in some cases. If there is access to a good computer, anyone can become a painter nowadays. Writing, though, still takes a bit of creativity, though even that is facing some danger from Artificial Intelligence programmes such as ChatGPT, which can write essays and articles on demand.

Finally, it won’t do any good to forget about physiological motivation. These primarily include biological needs such as food and water. It is vital for youth not to forget this factor. Eating healthy meals on time and taking plenty of fluids are essential, though many youth have been affected in this regard by the prevailing economic crisis. But the best answer to any kind of adversity is motivation itself – the will to challenge those head-on and surmount any obstacles that lie in one’s way. Then only can we succeed in life.