What motivates you? There are thousands of possible answers, but two characteristics summarize what does n’t motivate us: the promise of rewards and the threat of punishment – or the consequence of not completing a task .
Rewards actually force us to consider work in a limited way and offering incentives restricts our perception and ability to produce anything. In a TED Talks presentation , attorney Dan Pink illustrates the problem with a test involving a candle, matches and a box with office tacks: divided into two groups, volunteers should figure out how to light the candle without splashing wax on the table. The researchers offered money as a reward to one of the groups, if they could solve the problem.
The solution – found much more easily by the group that would not receive payment – was to empty the box and secure it with tacks on the wall, serving as a support for the candle. The group encouraged by the money took more time to complete the task and, as the researchers observed, had difficulty finding creative solutions.
In order not to fall into traps like this, it is possible to rely on little psychology tricks and boost your motivation. Know how:
Watch your progress
A system created in the 1950s by management consultant Peter Drucker suggests that we must set concrete goals to achieve personal growth, an important motivating factor .
Give up generic goals like “being a moral person” or “spending more time with the family”. Drucker’s theory, also known as SMART , is a way to help you manage goals and brings together five concepts that serve as a guide:
– Specific: separate very direct and detailed goals to be able to meet them;
– Measurable: “quantify” your performance and try to analyze how much progress was actually made after the activities;
– Achievable: don’t set unrealistic goals. Choose challenging goals, but close to your reality;
– Realistic: realistic goals consider and recognize unforeseen events and things that cannot be controlled along the way. Keep that in mind;
– Time limit: do not forget to define how long you want to complete the objective and try to keep the tasks according to the chosen date.
Consider learning one of your main goals
By investing in our personal growth, we gain knowledge in certain subjects and mastering a tool or system is also very motivating . Entrepreneur and author Seth Godin suggests that, even before starting this process, we should ask ourselves “ what will I learn from doing this? ”Try to outline three learning possibilities and focus on learning them to the end.
Analyze your habits – and your life
Alan Webber, founder of the business magazine Fast Company , leaves two lists in his pocket : one describes reasons for getting out of bed and the other lists reasons for staying up at night. Lists are another motivator and serve to track your goals. If your answers are not so positive, you need to reevaluate your motivations. When you get out of bed with the desire to complete tasks and go to sleep dreaming of new projects and ideas, you are likely to be on the right track.
Do not mix work with reward
Procrastinating is especially complicated because, when we postpone a task, we also deprive ourselves of the satisfaction we could have when we finally completed it. This ends up creating the idea that certain jobs are undesirable and we often determine our own rewards in order to continue until the end: a visit to the mall or an afternoon by the pool, for example.
In the book The Now Habit (no edition in Brazil), Neil Fiore has a more efficient solution to end procrastination : when starting a job, change the expression “I have to” for something like “I choose to do this”. Jobs we choose to do? The idea turns tasks into something more positive, almost like a hobby, and does not “trick” your brain with rewards that only serve to delay the work itself.
Apply the three elements of motivation according to psychology
Psychologists have already identified three essential concepts for personal motivation: autonomy, value and competence.
In a study by the University of Rochester , Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan argue that we gain more motivation when we feel “in charge”. After research, they noted that the perception of autonomy also generates enough energy for individuals to pursue their goals.
When we stay close to personal values and beliefs, we are also able to keep motivation high. In a test at the University of Virginia, researchers described an intervention made among high school students: one group had to write about how science related to their routine and the other should just summarize what they learned during the semester. The members of the first group had a significant increase in grades and showed greater interest in classes. In other words, understanding the importance of an activity in your routine already serves as an incentive to increase your motivation.
And the last factor, competence , was noted in several studies by Carol S. Dweck , a psychologist at Stanford University: she concluded that competence arises when we recognize the basis of our achievements. In their research, those who considered talent more important than “hard work” were more likely to give up on their goals. Believing in the potential for persistence and effort therefore helps to stay focused.