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If You Understand This Psychological Rule, You Can Motivate Yourself More Effectively

If You Understand This Psychological Rule, You Can Motivate Yourself More Effectively

How many times have you started a new habit, with a goal in mind, determined to make it happen, and then gave it all up after just a few days? You began something very excitedly about your goal, but the pain of failing to have enough discipline was greater and sufficient to put you off the whole idea.

So how can you keep yourself more motivated, even if you think you’re not a disciplined person?

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If you want to stay motivated to achieve your goals, you need to feel the pain of not achieving them.

Sounds confusing? It’s actually quite simple. Pain is the strongest indicator that our behavior needs readjustment and our brains are wired to be highly reactive to it. When trying to escape pain, the brain triggers psychological processes that aim to change the situation and avoid the source of pain, activating creative and decision-making processes. So instead of adopting a “carrot and stick” approach, and having your eyes on the price only, it’s important to evaluate also the impact of the potential losses you’ll experience by not achieving what you’re aiming for. The pain of those potential losses will be a powerful motivator to keep you going in the pursuit of your goal. Even more so than the desire you have to achieve that goal will.

Loss aversion, and the idea that “losses loom greater than gains”, explains why the pain of losing is psychologically about twice as powerful than the pleasure of gaining.

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The concept of loss aversion, introduced by Kahneman and Tversky in 1979, explains why, for example, if you lose 10 dollars, you feel twice as upset than you are when you gain 10 dollars. And it’s is also why sometimes penalty frames can be more effective than rewarding frames when motivating people.[1]

And while pain plays a role in motivational states, motivational states also influence the perception of pain.

The pain you might feel on your morning jog will be totally neglected if you’re running to escape from an assailant. In a similar way, the pain of waking up early to go to the gym will be greater if you’re only thinking about having a nice beach body. But if you remind yourself that not being fit is costing you health, self-confidence, and stamina, you’ll likely be less upset and ruled by the discomfort you feel getting out of bed.

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As we’ve seen, even if you should have your actions be motivated by what inspires you, and not fear, when working on self-motivation it’s not only beneficial to keep an eye on what you’d like to achieve but also on what you’ll be losing. So if you want to strengthen your motivation, ask yourself questions that will help your brain to perceive the status quo as a loss, more than focusing solely on future gains.

For example, ask yourself:
What do I stand to lose if I don’t reach my goal?
What is the path I’m on costing me every single day?
What will my future look like if I don’t change?

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Be clear on what not going after your goals will cost you and let that evaluation inspire you to take action.

So next time you’re setting a goal or need a little help to stay on track, remember that your goals are made of two parts, those things that you want, and those that you don’t want, bearing in mind that to not want something is, in fact, a more powerful motivation than it is to want.

And when pain presents itself in your game, remember that has a function for you: to get ahead.

Reference

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Ana Sofia Batista

Psychologist | Mentor | Writer | Yoga Teacher

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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