Dec 20, 2009

What does facing challenges mean?

350 of 365: What's Your Motivation?Image by lism. via Flickr
Some young people choose to participate in diverse and challenging activities, remain motivated in the face of obstacles, and persist until they accomplish their goals. These youth are said to have initiative. Initiative is the motivation to direct effort toward achieving challenging goals and remain determined even when things get difficult (Larson, 2000).

Developing this initiative requires three key things: intrinsic motivation; deliberate, goal-directed action in real-world situations and sustaining goal-directed efforts over time (Larson, 2000). What this means is that young people with initiative:

  • Are personally invested in their activities;
  • Exert attention, effort, and concentration in complex and challenging real-world situations; and
  • Continue working to achieve their goals, even if it involves re-evaluating and adjusting their strategies in the face of setbacks (Larson, 2000).

Similar to initiative, the concepts of "self-efficacy" and "self-regulated learning" have also been used to describe young people that are motivated and persistent. Self-efficacy refers to a person's belief in their ability to achieve what they set out to do (Bandura, 1986; Bandura, 1997). Young people with a higher sense of self-efficacy set more challenging goals for themselves, try harder, persevere in difficult times, bounce back more quickly after failures, and are eventually more successful (Bandura, 1986; Bandura, 1993; Pajares, 2002; Schunk, 1994; Schunk & Zimmerman, 1997; Zimmerman, 1994; Zimmerman & Bandura, 1994). Such young people believe that their abilities are not inherent and unchangeable, but are, instead, a set of skills that can be learned and further developed (Bandura, 1993). These youth consider errors and mistakes part of the natural learning process, and they focus on the improvement of their personal abilities rather than comparing themselves to others (Bandura, 1993). They also believe that their environments and outcomes are controllable and changeable, and that they are capable of determining their own outcomes (Bandura, 1993). Finally, these youth are self-regulated learners who realize their strengths and limits, set their own goals, adopt their own strategies for achieving these goals, and monitor their own progress (Zimmerman, 1989; Zimmerman, 2002).

More facts on facing challenges here.
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