Motivation can be really hard to come by. Somehow it’s always there when you don’t need it; when you’re trying to fall asleep at night or when you’re stuck in a boring meeting. And then it’s never there when you do need it; when you’re actually at your desk ready to work. Here’s how you can overcome this problem and succeed anyway.
1) Don’t Label Yourself
A study by psychologist Carol Dweck showed that students called “intelligent” for doing well in their work were less willing to try out harder tasks than those praised for effort. Rather than boosting their confidence, being called intelligent for doing well made these students feel self-conscious. If they wouldn’t do well in the next task, perhaps they wouldn’t be intelligent anymore.
At the same time, students praised for their effort thought of the harder task as a good excuse to put in more effort, and so were more likely to try it out.
Valuing yourself for the effort you put into your work rather than approval from others will mean you’ll find yourself more willing to tackle challenges at any time rather than hide from them. Challenges will begin to seem like opportunities to learn and grow rather than obstacles.
As it turns out, our brains can’t tell the difference between reality and imagination. In a study by Harvard, participants were split into two groups and either asked to practice playing the piano for two hours a day over five days or simply imagine playing.
At the end of the study, the researchers found that people in both groups had improved in playing the piano. And more than this, using magnetic stimulation tests, they found that the brains of people in both groups had been rewired in the same way.
It all comes to show that simply imagining you are successfully carrying out a task could help you succeed. If you are genuinely able to “see” yourself succeeding in something, your subconscious will process this as reality. And you’ll see the results!
3) Set Exciting Goals
Succeeding in the same thing over and over gets boring after a while. Think about beating a videogame– it’s just not the same the second or third time over. And this is because when you succeed in the same task repeatedly, the pleasure you feel from the brain’s release of the chemical dopamine diminishes each time. To reactivate your dopamine rush, you need to achieve something new and bigger.
This in mind, it makes sense to create bigger goals each time you achieve something. For example, if you’ve just hit your goal of running 5k in 30 minutes nonstop, your next goal could be to run 5k in 25 minutes. As you get used to enjoying your increased dopamine rush with every success, you may even find yourself getting addicted to doing well. No matter what your goal, using dopamine to your advantage like this will make you more likely to succeed.