Self-determination is an important concept that refers to every person’s ability to make choices and manage their own life. This ability plays an important role in personal health and well-being. In self-determination, people have to control their choices and lives. It also has an effect on motivation people feel more motivated to take action when they feel that what they do will have an effect on the outcome.

The concept of self-determination has been applied to areas including education, work, exercise, health, and parenting.

Research suggests that having high self-determination can create success in many different domains of life.

What Is Self-Determination Theory?

Self-Determination Theory links personality, optimal functioning, and human motivation. It was seen that there are two main types of motivation intrinsic and extrinsic and that both are powerful forces in shaping who we are and how we behave.

Self-determination theory suggests that people are motivated to grow and have to take initiative for universal psychological needs.

The theory also suggests that people are able to become self-determined when their needs for competence, connection, and autonomy are fulfilled.

Key assumptions of the theory:

  1. The first assumption of self-determination theory is that people are actively directed toward growth. Gaining mastery over challenges and new experiences are essential for developing a cohesive sense of self.
  2. While people are often motivated to act by external rewards such as money, prizes, and acclaim (known as extrinsic motivation), self-determination theory focuses primarily on internal sources of motivation such as a need to gain knowledge (known as intrinsic motivation).

According to theory, people need to feel the following in order to achieve psychological growth:

  • Competence: People need to gain mastery in tasks and learn some different skills. When people feel that they have the skills needed for success, they are more likely to take action for their goals and help them to achieve.
  • Relatedness: People need to feel a sense of belonging and attachment to other people.
  • Autonomy:  Sense of being able to take direct action that will result in real change plays a major part in helping people feel self-determined.

Self-Determined Vs Non-Self-Determined Behaviors

  • Self-determined behaviors tend to be intrinsically driven and are done for enjoyment, interest, and internal satisfaction.
  • On the other end, non-self-determined behaviors, which are performed only because they must be done. On this extreme end of the scale, there is a complete lack of control.

Self-Determination in the Real World

Self-determination (Selbstfindung) can play an important role in people’s lives in different manners of their lives. Feeling in control and intrinsically motivated can help people feel more committed, passionate, interested, and satisfied with the things that they do like in the workplace, competition, social meetings, school meetings, etc.

How to Improve Self-Determination

In order to strengthen your own self-determination, it is helpful to think about what a highly self-determined individual might look like and always think positively.

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