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5 Ways To Think Differently About Motivation When Setting 2016 Goals

5 Ways To Think Differently About Motivation When Setting 2016 Goals

When we are hungry, cold, or feel in danger, we have no trouble finding the “motivation” to eat, stay warm, or get somewhere safe. But when we’re faced with choosing the kale salad over the cheeseburger or waking up 30 minutes earlier to hit the gym, we suddenly find ourselves searching for the “motivation” to make it happen.

According to Abraham Maslow, once basic needs such as food, water, and safety are satisfied, humans are naturally motivated to embark on an ongoing quest to reach our full potential.

So is it really the problem of lack of motivation? Or are we just having trouble following through?

Often the problem is our misguided concept of motivation itself.

Here are five ways to think about motivation differently.

You’re motivated but resources are limited

If you’re thinking seriously about making a behavioral change, lack of motivation isn’t the reason you’re stuck in “trying to get traction” mode. According to social scientist BJ Fogg, the problem is more likely related to a lack of “ability.”

No, Fogg is not suggesting you’re incapable of change. His theory is that we all experience, to varying degrees, scarcity in resources such as time, money, and skills, and that scarcity can interfere with our ability to accomplish even what we are plenty motivated to achieve.

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According to Fogg’s behavior model, you have two options: You can try to get more of the resource you’re lacking (easier said than done) or you can scale down the behavior to match the resource you do have (more practical). Want to start meditating but can’t find the 30 minutes to spare? Start with 5 minutes. Want to get fit but have no idea where to start? Hire a coach to set you up with a 10-minute workout plan.

Motivation isn’t constant

Motivation waxes and wanes. Be ready with options.

In the throes of inspiration, we often set ambitious schedules that seem entirely doable to our highly motivated selves. I’m going to take four yoga classes a week! Starting today, I’m going to take three deep breaths every time I get mad at my kids!

But the minute we fail to meet these high expectations, we throw in the towel. Eh, I don’t feel like yoga today, so forget yoga.

What we forget is that motivation isn’t constant. Sometime you’re just not feeling it, so it’s important to build in daily options to harness your “motivation wave,” the daily or even hourly fluctuations in motivation that Dr. Fogg describes.

MotivationChart

    BJ Fogg’s Motivation Wave

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    The idea is to take a more challenging path when you are feeling inspired and an easier route when motivation is waning.

    Let’s say your goal is to write a page in your journal every night before bed. You get home late from an event one night and just want to roll into bed — your motivation wave is hitting bottom. Instead of blowing off your new habit completely, make it easier for yourself and just write down one sentence or one thing you’re grateful for.

    External rewards and fear can motivate. But only temporarily

    Have you ever had a flash of motivation upon learning a sobering new fact? Maybe you read that excessive sitting can lead to diabetes, so you suddenly bolt out of your chair every hour. Or your company launches a “biggest loser” competition with cool prizes, so you start skipping meals in an attempt to drop 10 pounds fast.

    Your mission succeeds — for a few days.

    Fact is, change inspired by fear or external rewards never lasts. Of course it’s inspiring to learn new facts or be tempted with a prize. But rather than dwell on the risks of doing the wrong thing, relish the positive experience of doing something new and positive. If you don’t have an intrinsically motivating reason for taking on a new habit you won’t keep it a part of your daily routine for long.

    Identifying your “why” is motivating

    When the going gets rough — when your good intentions go up against your ingrained behavioral patterns — knowing and remembering what’s really driving you (your “why”) may be all that keeps you on course.

    The technique therapists and coaches use to to get at this is called “motivational interviewing,” and it’s something you can borrow and use on yourself. Essentially, you keep asking “why” until the answer gets real.

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    Here’s a conversation you might have with yourself:

    “Why do I want to start exercising?”

    “Because I want more energy”

    “OK, why do I want more energy?”

    “Because I feel tired all the time.”

    “Why don’t I want to feel tired?”

    “Because when my kids ask me to play tag, I want to feel like doing it.”

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    “Why does that matter to me so much?”

    “Because I don’t want to let my kids down and limit the activities we can do together. I’m want to be a good role model for them.”

    The fourth or fifth reason you articulate for wanting to change will be far less superficial than the first. Once you’ve nailed down the real reason, write it down and put it somewhere handy — you’ll need it, and it might also help you identify more ways to fulfil your deepest desire.

    A growth mindset will keep you trying when you hit obstacles.

    We’re all capable of improving, regardless of what natural abilities we were born with or without. It’s important then to acknowledge our successes or failures and remind ourselves that they are a direct result of our own effort or lack thereof, not of factors outside our control.

    It’s the difference between having a “fixed mindset” or a “growth mindset”. A “fixed mindset” assumes that our abilities can’t be changed in any meaningful way, and success or failure is the reinforcement of the traits we were “born” with. When we have a “growth mindset,” on the other hand, we see obstacles and challenges as opportunities for growth beyond our existing abilities.

    These two mindsets spur a great deal of our behavior so it’s essential to recognize if you tend toward a fixed mindset and try to shift your thinking toward a growth mindset.

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    Sharen Ross

    Marketing Strategy Consultant

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    Published on May 18, 2021

    How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

    How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

    We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

    The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

    Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

    Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

    Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

    There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

    Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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    Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

    We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

    Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

    A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

    The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

    Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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    Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

    Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

    Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

    While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

    Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

    These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

    Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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    Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

    Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

    Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

    Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

    Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

    Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

    As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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    This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

    Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

    Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

    These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

    Actions Speak Louder Than Words

    Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

    Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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    Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

    More Tips Improving Listening Skills

    Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

    Reference

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