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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

How to Get Motivated to Go to Work Every Single Day

How to Get Motivated to Go to Work Every Single Day

According to a recent Gallop poll, 85% of workers worldwide hate their jobs. These dissatisfied employees are described by Gallop as being emotionally disconnected from their workplaces, leaving a mere 15% who feel “engaged” by their jobs.[1]

These sobering statistics mean a huge number of people around the world are waking up each day dreading going to work, and wondering “how do I get to work like a zombie…”

What is it that makes us so unhappy with our work? Why are so many of us feeling dissatisfied with and disconnected from our jobs, or worse, hating them?

In this article, we will look into the reasons why so many of us dread to go to work, and how to get motivated to work.

Why Do You Drag Yourself To Work?

There are a number of obvious factors that might contribute to hating one’s job, such as:

  • toxic company culture
  • unreasonable demands on time
  • safety concerns
  • lack of opportunity
  • poor pay
  • lack of respect
  • bad leadership

And what about those of us who simply feel unsatisfied or bored with our work?

Choosing for the Wrong Reasons

J.T. O’Donnell, Founder and CEO of WorkItDaily.com, has been studying job dissatisfaction for over 15 years, and sees a common thread – our addiction to praise. She believes many of us are hard-wired to seek out the “fleeting rush of validation” from impressing others rather than lasting happiness .

As a result, she believes many choose careers and job paths solely for the momentary payoff of being liked, respected or approved of, instead of focusing on what actually makes them happy.

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O’Donnell believes that in order for us feel passionate, engaged and happy in our jobs, we must first learn to focus on discovering and developing a more lasting intrinsic motivation for our work.

Our Primitive Brain: Short-Term Pleasure Motivator

The fact is that the vast majority of us need to work in order to earn a living. One might assume then that our basic drive to survive would be enough to motivate us each day, that some aspect of our primitive brain would kick in to push us out of bed and out the door.

Unfortunately, the primitive brain is very much like an impatient child – it wants instant gratification, not some lofty long-term reward. When emotions regulated by our limbic brain get involved in a decision, we’re much more likely to go for the short-term feel-good decision over some future payoff that the primitive brain can’t see or feel.

It’s the limbic brain that sets us up for our addiction to praise, and to other impulsive decisions in which we choose instant pleasure over future enduring happiness.

For instance, if we wake up dreading our work day, and the option of staying home and playing hooky is on the table, our limbic brain will tell us how wonderful we’ll feel if we call in sick, completely disregarding that nagging future possibility of losing our job.

So how do we override our animal brain long enough to cultivate the proper incentive, the intrinsic and lasting motivation to get up each day and head to work?

How to Motivate Yourself to Work

Luckily, our more primitive brains went on to develop the neocortex, that cognitive thinking part responsible for language, creativity, and executive functions. It’s this part of our brain which allows us to override the impulses of our limbic system and imagine the longer-term consequences of our actions and decisions.

We then use these imagined future outcomes, as well as our other thoughts, as motivation in our day-to-day choices.

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But as we heard earlier from J.T. O’Donnell, not all motivation styles are particularly effective or even beneficial. For the best chance at cultivating lasting happiness and satisfaction in our lives, we need to create helpful, positive and effective self-motivation strategies that serve us well in both the short and long-term.

One step is to first look at what makes for ineffective or unhealthy motivation styles. In the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), there are several ways in which we can identify and eliminate these types of self-motivation strategies, thus leaving room for us to adopt a new and more successful approach.

Ineffective Motivation Strategies

Essentially, we have two basic motivators for our choices and decisions. We are either choosing to move away from an imagined negative outcome, or to move towards an imagined positive outcome.

While the avoidance of a negative outcome can be quite a powerful motivation for changing behaviors in the short-term (i.e. ‘if I eat this cake, I’ll get fat and no one will love me’ or ‘if I don’t go into work today, I’ll be fired’), they don’t tend to be very effective in the long-term. They also tend to create feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety and powerlessness.

Unhelpful motivation strategies can be identified by paying attention to your inner dialogue in those situations in which you tend to have difficulty motivating yourself, or where you struggle with procrastination, avoidance, or fear of failure. In NLP, ineffective motivation strategies fall into one of the following four styles:[2]

The Negative Motivator

This person procrastinates and only becomes motivated to take action after imagining some horrible consequence of waiting any longer. ‘If I don’t finish this report by Monday, I’ll be fired for sure.’

The Dictator

This person motivates themselves by issuing themselves ‘orders’ to act, usually in a stern, commanding, and often critical voice. They’ll use words like ‘must’, ‘should’ and ‘have to’. ‘Stop being lazy and get your act together – you have to finish this report on time.’

The “Overwhelmer”

People with this motivation style imagine the entire task or goal they are facing as one global mass of effort that must be accomplished all at once, instead of in manageable chunks.

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They then become overwhelmed and discouraged from even taking the first step. ‘I’m going to have to write a full report every Monday for the rest of my career. How am I going to do this every week?’

The “Gloomy Imagineer”

This person imagines themselves doing some unpleasant or overwhelming task, and hating it all the way through.

They imagine only how bad they will feel throughout the process, rather than imagining any sort of positive outcome. ‘I hate writing these reports. I’m going to have use the weekend to finish it, and miss the game on Sunday. My weekend is going to be ruined.’

The problem with these motivation strategies is that they often fail, or backfire. The person may feel so overwhelmed by the task that they don’t even want to start it; they may subconsciously sabotage their efforts out of defiance or resistance; or they may complete the task, but end up feeling stressed and resentful as a result.

Effective Ways to Regain Motivation

If you’ve identified some of these negative or unhelpful motivation styles in yourself, now you can take steps to replace them with more effective, and far more pleasant, strategies.

Here are some basic guidelines for creating the best motivation strategies, according to NLP:[3]

1. Make Your Internal Dialogue Pleasant and Compelling

Be your own cheerleader, not dictator. Use positive words of possibility and encouragement such as ‘I can’, ‘I want’, ‘I desire’ and ‘I will’ instead of judging terms like should and have to.

Include a mental or physical representation of the successfully completed task. Imagine the positive consequences associated with its completion.

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2. Chunk it Down

In NLP, this means breaking a large and often overwhelming task down into smaller, more manageable steps.

3. Find Your Intrinsic Motivations

Finding work that truly satisfies us is not always easy. It can mean coming to sometimes painful realizations about our past motivations and compromises, and making changes accordingly.

But making the effort to discover and develop more intrinsic motivations for going to work, such as personal fulfillment, meaning and passion, will serve us far better than any external pressures or expectations can.

Final Thoughts

Developing smart, effective, and positive motivation strategies can help us make good decisions that serve both our short and long-term happiness.

If you’re finding it difficult to drag yourself out of bed in the morning because you dread going to work, and a change in career or workplace is not an option just yet, try taking a look at your internal dialogue and making changes to how you motivate yourself.

You’ll be amazed at the results you can achieve when you become your own best supporter of your goals and dreams.

More About Staying Motivated

Featured photo credit: Viktor Forgacs via unsplash.com

Reference

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Mike Bundrant

Co-Founder @inlpcenter, which offers NLP training and life coach certification to students in over 70 countries.

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Published on February 17, 2021

How to Hack the Reward System in Your Brain And Stay Motivated

How to Hack the Reward System in Your Brain And Stay Motivated

How do we achieve our biggest goals in life? Hard work, learning new skills, and staying focused are definitely important things, but one of the most important things we need is motivation. Losing motivation can stop us in our tracks. It can make us procrastinate, doubt our skills and abilities, and take us off the path to success. In the worst cases, a lack of motivation can destroy our goals and kill our dreams.

Where does motivation come from?

It starts with thoughts and chemicals in the reward systems in our brains. It continues to develop in our brains and is further shaped by our behaviors. This is why neuroscience, which is the study of the function of the brain, is so important.

When we understand the basics of neuroscience, we can hack the reward system in our brains so we can stay motivated to achieve our biggest goals.

The Neuroscience of Motivation

At the most basic level, humans want to avoid pain and experience pleasure. Our pleasure-seeking behavior is based on a mental reward system that’s controlled by our brains. This reward system is what keeps us motivated and helps us achieve our biggest goals and dreams.

Neurotransmitters are chemicals in our brains that help shape our thoughts and behaviors. One of the main neurotransmitters in our reward system is the “pleasure” chemical dopamine. Dopamine is produced mainly in the mid-brain and then moves to other areas of the brain, such as the amygdala, which plays a big role in our emotional development. It also moves to the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for thinking, feeling, planning, and taking action.[1]

When you do something pleasurable, your brain releases dopamine to make you feel good mentally and physically. This commonly happens when we eat our favorite foods, have sex, have a great conversation with someone, or do something else we really enjoy. Each time we feel pleasure from doing something, our brains remember what made us feel good. It actually assigns a reward value for everything we do.

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For example, eating a slice of our favorite pizza may have a higher reward value than drinking a smoothie. Being on that tropical vacation will have a higher reward value than watching that water fountain downtown.

Our brains even release dopamine before we engage in those things that make us happy. It’s the expectation of the reward rather than the reward itself that has the strongest influence on our emotional reactions and memories of what’s pleasurable.[2] Just planning that tropical vacation by checking out different locations on a travel site or looking at things we want to buy on Amazon stimulates our reward system by releasing dopamine.

Thinking about starting a project at work that we’re really passionate about also activates our reward system. This act of feeling the pleasure generated by our mental reward systems is what creates reward-seeking behavior and is a big part of motivation.

Vanderbilt University researchers discovered that “go-getters” who are more willing to work hard have greater dopamine activity in the striatum and prefrontal cortex, two areas of the brain that influence motivation and reward.[3]

Hacking Our Brain’s Reward System

Here are four ways to hack the reward system in your brain to stay motivated.

1. Keep Growing

When you do the same things over and over, that dopamine rush tends to get smaller and smaller. A great way to stay motivated is to keep growing by doing bigger and bigger things.

Take on bigger, more challenging projects at work. Once you’ve reached a running or fitness milestone, start working toward a bigger one. If you’re fluent in a foreign language, learn how to have more complex, philosophical conversations. If you have your own business, find ways to acquire more clients so you can generate more profit. Keep learning new skills that will push you to the edge of your comfort zone.

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Taking on greater challenges helps our brain’s reward system continue to assign high reward values to things we do. Start by accomplishing small goals. As you accumulate more and more small wins, work your way up to more challenging goals.

2. Use Visualization

“Visualization is daydreaming with a purpose.”—Bo Bennett

A great way to stay motivated is to visualize accomplishing a goal—even though you haven’t completed it yet. Visualization actually causes the brain to release dopamine. This makes us see our future rewards more clearly and go after them more fervently.

When our brains release dopamine and we feel that rush of euphoria, our hippocampus, which is part of our brain’s limbic system, records those pleasurable moments in our long-term memory. The more we visualize success, the more our brains associate this visualized success with pleasurable feelings.

When we can imagine a better future, we’re motivated to keep pushing forward and overcoming obstacles in our path. This is why people work hard to get raises and promotions, invest their money, put their kids thru college, and do other things that help them or others prosper later in life.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, Jim Carrey, and other famous and influential people have used visualization to achieve sky-high success.[4] It’s a great way to use the power of your imagination to keep you motivated to succeed.

3. Avoid Excessive Stress

High levels of stress are associated with chronic inflammation, which can cause our motivation to decrease. Researchers at Emory University have theorized that chronic inflammation from stress may cause a chemical reaction in the body that decreases dopamine supplies in the brain.[5]

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Low levels of stress can actually help us perform better by making us more alert. That adrenaline rush we get from stress can give us the energy and the edge to do our best. But when stress levels are high, stress can be damaging to our bodies, minds, and motivation.[6]

High-stress can lead to burnout. In the worse cases, it can cause people to quit projects or quit their jobs. It can cause mental problems such as anxiety or depression. It can lead to health problems like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other illnesses. Reduce stress by doing deep breathing exercises, meditating, running, or exercising regularly.

4. Reframe Challenges

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.—Wayne Dyer

Another great way to hack your brain’s reward system is to change how you look at challenges in your life. A common problem is that many people see difficult work as an obstacle or simply something they don’t like doing.

A good strategy is to look at difficult situations and obstacles as opportunities that will help you and those around you grow. This will help us look at difficult things in a positive light and actually look forward to doing them instead of dreading them.

For example, if three employees on your team aren’t getting along with each other and two of them are thinking about quitting, don’t look at this as a very stressful, terrible problem. Instead, look at the situation as an opportunity to use your interpersonal skills to gather the angry employees together, let them voice their concerns, and then resolve the problem.

It will help them improve personally and professionally. It will also help you and your company prosper as well. You can also apply this same way of thinking to your personal life. If your friends or family members aren’t getting along, use the disagreement as a growth opportunity that will benefit them and you.

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When we can see difficult things as great opportunities, we’ll start to look forward to them. When we look forward to doing things, it makes the reward system in our brains reward us with more dopamine, and it increases the chances that we’ll look at future problems as opportunities to grow.

Conclusion

Motivation is a challenging part of personal and professional development. This is why motivational videos and motivational speeches are so popular. A central part of staying motivated, even during the most challenging times, is to understand how our brains work. Science has given us a good understanding of our brain’s reward system and the chemicals and pathways that allow it to shape our behavior.

Hack that reward system in your brain by taking on bigger challenges, visualizing success, avoiding excessive stress, and looking at difficult situations as opportunities to help others and help yourself grow.

When we begin to master our brains, we’ll be better able to master our lives and achieve those big goals.

More Tips on How to Stay Motivated

Featured photo credit: Giorgio Trovato via unsplash.com

Reference

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