It’s a feeling familiar to many – the idle stare at a blinking cursor or the struggle to not hit ‘snooze’ on your blaring alarm and to face the day – but what if we told you that it doesn’t have to be that way? We’re sure that there have been several occasions you have actually been excited to get out of bed, perhaps for an exciting social event, a special occasion, or even better a hobby, you are eager to resume. The reason we want to start the day with a spring in our step on these days, we call motivation. Motivation comes in many shapes and sizes and is not a ‘one-term fits all’ concept. Our motivation can be good, or bad if it is for reasons that do not help us. It can also be affected by many different variables, some even at the same time.
No one is a good worker when they are unmotivated, and recent statistics suggest that only 15% of employees worldwide feel engaged in their jobs! How could this be the case, and why would employers want to cultivate this business strategy when in the U.S, over $550 billion is lost each year due to “unmotivated employees”? While that statistic seems a little distant from day to day working life, the underlying benefits of raising your level of motivation to yourself and your work ethic are far more important! Our motivation levels can have a dramatic impact on our mental health, and our personal lives, and remember, like all our tips, don’t just use them for work, see if you can apply them to your home life too!
What really is Motivation?
Simply, motivation is the driving force behind why we do the things that we do. More technically, it is the term for the processes that initiate, guide and maintain goal-oriented behaviours. The term motivation is a catchment term for the biological, social and cognitive factors that play into our human behaviours – and there are a lot of factors.
However, we must remember that these factors are simply not the ‘spark’ of motivation, it’s what keeps us going, and how effectively we maintain it. There is a continuous and unanswered debate that has existed in the world of psychology, on the topic of ‘motivation theory’ – in other words, the science behind motivation and why we humans have it. We simply don’t have enough time here, but for those interested, it is worth mentioning!
There are two terms we need to get out of the way before we move on, and they are extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation. These terms describe certain types of motivation, and specifically where they come from.
- Extrinsic motivation occurs outside of you – in other words, the reason you are motivated is for some reason outside of yourself. Working for a paycheck, for example, is extrinsically motivated
- Intrinsic motivation occurs within you – these are states of motivation that occur that are due to ourselves, for example, when we create challenges for ourselves or the result is self-improvement
Understanding the two types of motivation, while a little tricky, can be especially helpful in trying to improve our own motivation – the more we understand, the more we can learn.
How does motivation really help me?
There is an ocean of difference between feeling very motivated, and extremely unmotivated – and often it is difficult to realise when you are in the midst of either one! Positive motivation can significantly improve many aspects of our personal and mental health:
- Being encouraged to take health oriented actions,
- Improving our confidence
- Helping people feel more control of their actions.
Motivation is also a key aspect of our working lives, and has been shown to significantly increase:
- Efficiency at which employees manage their work,
- Quality of work
- The ability to work together in teams and come to shared conclusions
- Morale in a team environment.
How to find lost motivation?
While it’s all fair and good to understand how motivation works, or why we should improve it, perhaps it’s time to get down to brass tacks and start discussing methods and ways we are able to improve or regain our lost motivation. It’s very helpful to keep in mind that loss of motivation is almost a natural inevitability – it will happen from time to time. Everyone is different of course, and some may find it more difficult, but just remember to keep trying and work within realistic boundaries!
- Chunking – The best part about this technique isn’t just fun to say! This ties quite nicely into our previous blog post regarding time management. If you are encountering a big problem, you may feel overwhelmed, or that the hurdle is too large to overcome, this is not good for motivation. Chunking is when we break our large problems into smaller, more manageable ‘chunks’, and tackle them one by one.
- Improve confidence – Psychology can be complicated, and sometimes outcomes can also be reasons; while good motivation can improve confidence, good confidence can also improve motivation – take a look at our guide for improving self-confidence
- Healthy reminders – We humans can be very tough on ourselves, so much in fact that we often put ourselves down and in turn lower our motivation. Remember to be kind to yourself, recall previous achievements that make you proud, and increase your motivation. Keeping a diary to track improvements may also be a useful technique, but remember to keep it going!
- Act as if you feel motivated – This may feel counterintuitive, or maybe disingenuous, however, studies have shown that if we manufacture the physical attributes of motivation, our minds quickly follow suit. Now, this shouldn’t be relied on, and more long term solutions are much more preferred, this is a great way to get moving when you start to feel yourself in that rut!