Newton’s Law of Motivation

Newtons Law of Motivation

What physics can tell us about motivation.

As a mechanical trained engineer turned organisational psychologist, I often try to see the parallels of engineering and physics theories in psychology. Inevitably Newton’s 3 Law of motion will always come up to the fore.

Isaac Newton, describes himself as a natural philosopher but in essence, he was a scientist that was ahead of his time. Not only he was a physicist, but he was also a mathematician, astronomer, theologian and author. Many of his discoveries set the tone and framework of classical mechanics today. No mechanical engineers or mechanical engineering’s students would have not heard about him.

Isaac Newton’s Law revealed a lot to me about how human and the law of nature intertwined. I was pleasantly surprised that we as humans had so many connections to nature. The revelation was not only interesting but it sparks some thinking on human psychology for me.

In Newton’s 2nd Law of Motion, Force on an object is equal to the mass m of that object multiplied by the acceleration an of the object: F = ma. (It is assumed here that the mass m is constant).

Succinctly, what it meant was if the mass of the object remains unchanged like a car, I can increase the force on the car by accelerating the car. This is why speed kills. In any accident, the most fatality occurs when the car has exceeded speeding limits when it crashes on to other objects. The force was too great.

I had wondered, how would Newton had applied this law to our discussion on Motivation. If Newton had a Law on Motivation, I thought his 2nd Law fits the bill.

Let’s have a quick look in the context of motivation in learning.

F (object) = F (motivation)

m (object is constant) = m (your brain capacity , assumption here is finite)

a (object’s acceleration) = a (your acceleration in learning)

Force of motivation in learning , F = (yourself, m) x ( acceleration in learning,a)

One must achieve a higher rate of competency to keep the motivation up.

It is the impetus that one continues to see achievements towards being competent daily to keep the motivation up. The faster one sees that the bigger the motivation to continue on.

I find the above to be true. In fuelling my hobby of speaking multiple languages, I am always learning another language. And in that process, I am always looking and buying new language learning system to see how I can reach fluency in the shortest time possible.

Eventually, I realised that the path to fluency is to keep my motivation up and that’s true acquiring certain learning objectives fast.

For instance, I am already attempting to read French novels when I have acquired the phonetics and certain basic words. I am not too concerned with the conjugation or the gender of the nouns. My attempt is to reach reading proficiency fast.

One of the best ways is to start reading the headlines of news or articles in French.

Another way is that when you have set a goal to learn to how to say number 1 to 10 in French in a week, you can attempt to learn number 11-20 in half the time and continue to speed up the process.

The mantra of taking it slowly is not necessary is good advice from the above. The quicker you learn something then the quicker you want to learn more.

I am holding firm to the above and will continue to attempt accelerating my learning to keep the learning curve steep and not to taper off.

Once your level of motivation has increased, you will find that naturally, your learning will accelerate.

It’s almost a cliche to make that statement above but what’s surprising is that the above is true even in physics. If , we increase external Force, F , it’s only natural that the object would accelerate, higher ‘aassuming mass, m is still constant from the formula of F=ma.

Similarly, you should be encouraged to know that is only natural that the more motivated you are the faster you will learn!

It’s after all the law of nature or in this case motion!

Last but not least, do drop me a note if you are also a keen observer of physics and psychology or if you are a keen language learner.

Bon courage!

Originally published at