Motivation: The Three Components

Motivation is a complex topic, but the 3C Model of Motivation is a simple way to help you run a quick diagnostic and figure out why you are feeling unmotivated.

Motivation: The Three Components

Sometimes, I find it easy to get work done, and other times it is hard to stay motivated. Motivation is essentially the desire to act and move towards a specific goal. There has been a lot of research on motivation, but there is one model that can be used to understand why we struggle to find motivation. The theory is called the "3C Model of Motivation."

The Three Components

The 3C Model of Motivation was developed by Professor Hugo M. Kehr at the University of California Berkeley.

  • Explicit motives: the motives we attribute to ourselves consciously.
  • Implicit motives: the unconscious reasons that explain why we act a certain way.
  • Perceived abilities: what we think we are capable of accomplishing.

To visualize the model, Professor Kehr described these three components as the "head, heart, and hand." The head represents our explicit goals and rational intentions. The heart represents our unconscious needs and emotions such as fear and fun. Lastly, the hand represents our abilities, skills, and knowledge that are relevant to the task at hand.

Thus, every time we accomplish a goal or perform a task, the figurative head, heart, and hand come into play. For us to be maximally motivated, all three of these components need to be fulfilled. If one of these parts is missing, we struggle to feel motivated.

A temporary solution is to use our willpower to push through and get the job done. Nevertheless, this is temporary because it is a terrible long-term strategy that could result in burnout.

How to Diagnose Being Unmotivated

The best part of the 3C Model is that it is simple. By asking yourself three quick questions, you can analyze the reasons why you struggle to feel motivated.

  1. Head: Is this task important to me and relevant to my goal?
  2. Heart: Do I enjoy this task?
  3. Hand: Am I good at this task?

Once you have pinpointed which of these is not working, you can decide which strategy to apply to feel more motivated.

If your heart is off, reframe the task to make it more enjoyable. If you head is off, find new incentives to convince yourself. If your hand is off, ask for help from someone!

Motivation is a complex topic, but this is a simple model to help you run a quick diagnostic to figure out why you are feeling unmotivated.

What do you think of the 3C Model of Motivation? Let me know in the comments down below!