Self Determination Theory

 Self Determination refers to a person’s ability to make choices and manage their own lives.  This is important for motivation because people feel more motivated to take action when they feel what they do will have an effect on what they are trying to accomplish. 

Self Determination Theory suggests that people are motivated to grow and change by three universal psychological needs of competence, connection and autonomy.

Autonomy- A sense of being able to take direct control of their own behaviors and goals and that taking action will result in change.  People need to feel they are taking action on their own volition, that they aren’t being force into something.   

Competence- People need to learn and master new skills.  When people feel they have mastery of something new, they are more likely to take action.  An example would be after taking a cooking class where they learn and master basic cooking skills, they are likely to want to cook more out and try new recipes. 

 Relatedness- People want to feel like they are part of a group, they identify with the group and feel a sense of belonging.  Cross Fit does an excellent job of this, members identify strongly with be a “Cross Fitter.”  Another example is that after completing a triathlon, participants identify as a “triathlete.”

How You Can Improve Self Determination

Believe you are in charge of your own life - Believe that your actions influence outcomes. When confronted with a challenge believe that with persistence, and hard work you can make it happen. “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

Have High Self-Motivation  – Don’t rely on external rewards or self-punishment for motivation, rely on good goal setting and planning to achieve your goal or objective.

Take 100% responsibility for your behaviors – Purposefully engage in activities that move you toward your goals. Take credit for hitting goals and accept responsibility when you don’t. Don’t beat yourself up for not attaining a goal, figure out what went wrong and then create a new strategy and then

Self Determination, feeling like you have the power and the ability to make choices that affect your future will enable you to create a happier, healthier and more productive life.

To learn more about using Self Determination Theory , I recommend reading, “Why We Do What We By,” by Edward Deci 

Click here to see the book.