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Ten Secrets to Finding your Motivation

By Kori Anderson

What is motivation?

Motivation is the reason that makes a person act in a specific way – each action has a motivating reason behind it, and this is occurs in every living organism.

Motivation psychology

Motivation has been researched by psychologists and leadership scholars since the early forties – such as Maslow’s Needs, which is widely implemented and basically says that we need food and warmth, safety, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization to be motivated.

Types of motivation:

  • Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation: In general people are motivated by either internal or external forces: internal rewards include fulfillment, self-motivation and contentment, and some may argue that it is more powerful than external rewards such as money, power and status. However, research has shown that intrinsic motivation on its own is not enough.
  • Others include: Affiliation & Social Motivation (need for acceptance and belonging), Achievement (achieving a goal rather than the reward), Incentive (the reward is very important), Power (need to be in control), Competence & Learning (act of learning), and Fear (avoidance of negative consequences).

We need to first understand what type of motivational forces have an impact, then use as many of them as necessary – blend them all together and use whatever works. It will differ from situation to situation.

What causes low motivation:

How do we find daily motivation to complete a task that may be hard or elusive, or if we are feeling overwhelmed and have too many things on our plate? Low motivation is mostly the result of mental strategies that don’t work well for you.

  • Being too hard on yourself
  • Feeling overwhelmed or depressed
  • Procrastination
  • Being a people pleaser
  • Hating boring tasks
  • Being too attached to self-deprivation
  • Being too stuck in your comfort zone

How to Find your Motivation: the Ten-Step Program

  1. Get organized! Schedule tasks you know you don’t like doing early on. Looking at a project or what needs to be done in its entirety may be overwhelming, but if you concentrate on getting some easy things done first, you release dopamine, that will boost motivation to get the other stuff out of the way. Plan your day according to your known peak periods.
  2. Set small incremental goals so you have victories to celebrate throughout the day. The release of dopamine will help build motivation for further work. Often called the ‘motivation neurotransmitter’ dopamine spikes when you anticipate something important to happen. Reaching small goals will set off a flow of dopamine creating positive reinforcement. Make sure however that the tasks will challenge you a bit, that ‘stretch’ can be a big motivator.
  3. Visualize the task completed, not the boring part of doing it. Sometimes visualization can backfire if the goal is too big or perceived to be unachievable, so keep to visualizing only the step ahead of you. Picture in your mind how you will feel when it is done – then go ahead and do it.
  4. Focus on the task at hand. Concentrate on one task at a time, it will force you to sit down and get it done, and the positive reinforcement of completing it will increase your dopamine levels.
  5. Create rituals, starting at the beginning of your day, that way it will become a habit soon. The most difficult part of any task is taking that first step, but that is what you need to get started, one small step – this act will motivate you to continue. By building rituals starting early morning (i.e. exercise, swim, meditate, breakfast, read emails, clean up the house, no matter what you need to do to get yourself going in the morning) you can build habits that will soon be done automatically and no longer require motivation. A positive step is always to make your bed first thing. It sets a fresh tone for the day. By the way, a regular sexual life also contributes to success, as a satisfied person feels strength and a spirit lift to do new things.
  6. Eat a balanced diet, with meals that you enjoy, and hydrate frequently. Dehydration can sap your energy very quickly, as less blood flow means less oxygen available to use for building energy molecules. A balanced diet will provide the amino acids required to build neurotransmitters such as dopamine, catecholamines and others to keep high energy levels, mental focus and motivation. Stock up n green leafy vegetables, avocado, oatmeal, chocolate, nuts and seeds and of course coffee and green tea, for a dopamine producing tyrosine boost. Include natural probiotics such as kefir, kimchee, yoghurt or sauerkraut.
  7. Get moving! No matter how short a workout, do something that gets the heart pumping. The release of feel good hormones will help lift your mood and improve motivation. Set goals for improving exercise routines – the pride in reaching those goals does wonders for motivation levels.
  8. Get enough good quality sleep so that you are fresh and alert when starting your tasks. Sleep deprivation can drastically reduce your ability to make decisions and depletes energy and mental focus to stay motivated. Lack of sleep also increases stress levels.
  9. Stop being a perfectionist – focus on completing tasks one by one and don’t get sucked into analysis paralysis. Self-oriented beneficial perfectionism can assist with motivation if tasks are achievable but society-imposed perfectionism (thinking it is expected) can be debilitating. The actual realization of perfection is mostly elusive! There is nothing more demotivating that trying to perfect something that was good enough to begin with, and ending up in an endless cycle of trying to fix a process or task and getting nowhere.
  10. Celebrate! Give yourself a pat on the back for each positive step you take, motivation builds on achievements exponentially, and if you really don’t feel it, fake it until you make it. Share your good results with your team, your family, anyone special to you. Positive reinforcement and feedback increases your motivation to do more, as it activates the reward systems in your brain.

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