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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

12 Things That Will Always Motivate You to Do a Good Job

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12 Things That Will Always Motivate You to Do a Good Job

Sometimes, it feels like there’s never enough time to do all of the things you want to do—go for a run, call that friend you haven’t spoken to in six months, apply for a new job, finish that report you owe your boss, or send a card to your cousin who just got engaged. The list is endless, and it feels like it will only keep piling on. As soon as you cross an item off your to-do list, you’ve added two more.

You’re burnt out at work and you’re lagging in your personal life. Things are out of whack. But how can you stay motivated to continue doing a good job?

You might try listening to Lose Yourself thirty times, but you may still feel uninspired. It’s easy to let yourself fall into the trap and start mailing it in. You get into work at nine on the dot and leave no later than five.

But you’re a motivated person. This isn’t like you. What can you do to turn it around? How do you stay motivated when you get down like this?

You think to yourself, “I need to do something drastic.” Most of the time though, that’s the exact opposite approach you should take. It’s small, incremental changes and habits that will get you back on track. Sit down and write. Go for a walk and think through your affairs. Start small first.

So, what things can you do to avoid this feeling? How can I get myself out of the constant feeling I’m doing the best I possibly can? There are some simple steps to get you through the rut and focus on your priorities.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Here are 12 things that will always motivate you to do a good job.

1. Preparation Is Key

Before you go to bed, write down your plan for the next day. That way, when you wake up in the morning, you’re not immediately running through a thousand different scenarios in your head, anxious about all the things you have to do. You know that when you get to your desk, there is a gameplan completely mapped out just waiting to be attacked.

Doing this the night before not only reduces your stress levels but it also creates an organized path to productivity for the first critical hours of the day that will give you the momentum you need to carry through the rest of the tasks that come across your desk.

2. Make a List of All the Things You Want This Year

Developing a gameplan for the day is great and will get you moving and motivated, but chances are you also have a lot of long-term intentions in mind that may subconsciously be weighing you down. Start by writing down every single thing you want to accomplish in the next six to twelve months. All of them! Don’t stop writing until you’re empty.

Once you have that list—there may be 10 or 30 items—circle the three most important objectives. This is something that Tony Robbins talks about in his bestseller, Awaken the Giant Within. Narrow your priorities. Focus solely on the most important tasks and nothing else.

3. Find a Trigger

Develop a personal prompt to kickstart each day. Every now and then, you consume something that provides you with a massive spark of inspiration. This is key to knowing what motivates you to do a good job. It could be a good book, an inspirational sports movie, or a great TED talk you just watched. Many writers listen to the same playlist over and over again while they’re writing.

Lin Manuel Miranda, famous for his role in the broadway musical Hamilton, created a playlist for when he encounters writer’s block with songs by Fiona Apple and ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic. It’s his trigger to get down and dirty—to source his creativity. As soon as he hears that song, he knows it’s time to turn on and work.

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4. Focus on Discipline and Routine

In the book Atomic Habits, author James Clear calls out how comedian Jerry Seinfeld writes jokes on a yellow legal pad every single day for two hours. At the end of his writing sessions, he marks that day on the calendar with a big X to continue his daily streak. Not breaking that streak is what keeps him motivated.

In a podcast interview with Tim Ferriss, director and writer Brian Koppelman cited Haruki Murakami’s memoir What I Think About When I Think About Running as one of his favorite books on discipline, and I agree. It’s not a book about running, as the title may suggest. It’s about discipline and sticking to a routine process—a method that is boring but results in the greatest outcomes.

“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” – Mark Twain

5. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain suggests starting your day with your most difficult task. He calls it “Eating the Frog.”

If you’re dreading that one looming assignment, why not get it out of the way as soon as possible? As soon as you’re finished, the weight is effectively off your shoulders and you can focus on the rest of the day, relaxed and relieved you finished the hard stuff. It’s tough to get through—like swallowing a big frog (not that I know from personal experience)—but once it’s over with, you just may have to burp a couple of times!

6. Use the Pomodoro Method

Something I’ve always adhered to is a method of working called the Pomodoro Method, which is just a fancy term for taking a HIIT exercise approach to other areas of life (it’s named after the Pomodoro kitchen timer tomato).

On for 25 minutes; off for 5 minutes. This is something I’ve done since elementary school. It’s the way I studied or did homework through high school and college—twenty or so minutes of intensely focused work followed by a short break.

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The time limit is arbitrary. I sometimes do thirty minutes of work and ten minutes of rest, or one hour of work followed by twenty minutes of rest. Play with it and see what works. You shouldn’t be staring at a screen for that long anyway. Step aside, take a breather, and look out to the horizon. It’s just the mental reset you need to motivate you for the next working session.

7. Treat Yourself

Reward yourself when you finish an important task. If you get through a difficult assignment after an hour of hard work, go for a walk. Treat yourself to an iced coffee or a handful of delicious blueberries. Every now and then, you need to take a breath and enjoy the fact that you accomplished something difficult. Sit back and reflect on it over a good book, a delicious snack, or even a bottle of wine. You’ve earned it!

8. Know That the Work You Put in Will Boost Your Reputation

Any time I think of slacking off, I feel like my reputation is being put on display. I picture my peers secretly saying to themselves, “he doesn’t work hard.” But when I work hard and put in that extra effort, I know it’s not going to go unrecognized. Even if it does, I have the personal satisfaction that I did the best I could.

Do the right thing, regardless of who’s watching, because it’s the right thing to do. Many times you may go unappreciated for months but eventually, that hard work gets recognized. What goes around comes around, and you’ll know no one will ever be able to say you didn’t earn it. That’s what’s important.

9. Act Like Your Role Model Is Watching You

Every time I sit down to write, I imagine all of my favorite writers watching me from afar. What would they want me to do? Should I have my phone next to me? Probably not. Eliminate distractions. You know in your heart what you should be doing, and if you act like your idol is watching you, that imaginary archangel will keep you straight.

10. Learn New Things

Unless you’re an expert who’s been in their field for decades, chances are there’s something else you can learn. Pick up a book on a new topic, ask a colleague in a different department to show you what they do, or take an online course. Learning something new is difficult, but it’s a personal investment into yourself that never depreciates. This will also help you discover what motivates you to do a good job.

As Miyamoto Mushashi says, “If you know the way broadly, you will see it in everything.”

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11. Help Others

Coaching or mentoring is a great way to stay motivated and excited about what you do. Nothing makes you realize you’re understanding of something like teaching it to someone else!

12. Set a Time to Stop

It may sound crazy but sometimes, you just need to set a quiet time for yourself. “No matter what, at 6 pm I am closing my laptop.” This will help you keep your priorities straight and make sure that you’re fitting everything you need to do into the working hours you set for yourself. It also sets boundaries with your colleagues that notify them of when to expect things from you.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are a ton of easy-to-implement approaches to stay motivated! Whether it’s managing your time, creating a “Work” playlist, or just making a list—doing a good job is as easy as you make it on yourself.

Remember, you don’t have to do anything drastic or makeover your entire life. Start with the simple steps that will make your day just a little more enjoyable. Before you know it, you’ll be hearing praises from the ones who care.

More Tips to Motivate Yourself to Do a Good Job

Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

More by this author

Kyle J. Brennan

Digital marketing expert, book reviewer, triathlete, & experimenter of all things.

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Published on September 27, 2021

What Is Incentive Motivation And Does It Work?

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What Is Incentive Motivation And Does It Work?

We’ve all needed a bit of inspiration at some time in our lives. In the past year or two, that need most likely has grown. Who hasn’t been trying to shed those extra pounds we put on during the pandemic? Who hasn’t felt the need to fake a little enthusiasm at joining yet another Zoom call? Who hasn’t been trying to get excited about trekking back into the office for a 9 to 5 (longer if you add in the commute)? Feeling “meh” is a sign of our times. So, too, is incentive motivation, a way to get back our spark, our drive, and our pursuit of the things we say we want most.

In this article, I’ll talk about what incentive motivation is and how it works.

What Is Incentive Motivation?

Incentive motivation is an area of study in psychology focused on human motivation. What is it that gets us to go from couch potato to running a marathon? What spurs us to get the Covid vaccine—or to forgo it? What is it that influences us to think or act in a certain way? Incentive motivation is concerned with the way goals influence behavior.[1] By all accounts, it works if the incentive being used holds significance for the person.

The Roots of Incentive Motivation

Incentive motivation’s roots can be traced back to when we were children. I’m sure many of us have similar memories of being told to “eat all our veggies” so that we would “grow up to be big and strong,” and if we did eat those veggies, we would be rewarded with a weekend trip to a carnival or amusement park or playground of choice. The incentive of that outing was something we wanted enough to have it influence our behavior.

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Growing up, incentive motivation continues to play a major role in what we choose to do. For example, while we may not have relished the idea of spending years studying, getting good grades, pursuing advanced degrees, and graduating with sizeable debt from student loans, a great many of us decided to do just that. Why? Because the end goal of a career, a coveted title, and the associated incentives of financial reward and joy in doing something we love were powerful motivators.

One researcher who believes in the power of incentive motivation is weight management expert, co-author of the book State of Slim, and co-founder of the transformational weight loss program of the same name, Dr. Holly Wyatt. Her work with her clients has proven time and again that when motivation fizzles, incentives can reignite those motivational fires.

“Eat more veggies, exercise, keep track of my weight: These things and more DO work, but bottom line, you gotta keep doing them. Setting up rituals and routines to put your efforts on auto-pilot is one way. And along the way, the use of both external and internal motivators helps keep people on track. External motivation sources are those things outside of ourselves that help to motivate us. They’re powerful, like pouring gasoline on a fire. But they may not last very long. Internal motivators are more tied into the reasons WHY we want to reach our goals. In my State of Slim weight loss program, we spend a lot of time on what I call ‘peeling back the onion’ to find the WHY. I think the internal motivators are more powerful, especially for the long-term, but they may take longer to build. They’re the hot coals that keep our motivational fires burning.”

Examples of Incentive Motivation

In the way of incentive motivation, specific to the external motivators, Dr. Wyatt challenges her clients to commit to changing just one behavior that will help them reach their weight loss goals. Clients must then agree to a “carrot” or a “stick” as either their reward for accomplishing what they say they will do or as their punishment for falling short. Those incentives might be something like enjoying a spa day if they do the thing they said they would do or sweating it out while running up and down the stairwell of their apartment building a certain number of times as punishment for not following through.

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Whatever they choose, the goal must be something they really want, and the incentive must be something that matters to them enough to influence their behaviors in reaching those goals. Some people are more motivated by some sort of meaningful reward (a carrot) whereas, other people are more motivated by some sort of negative consequence or the taking away of a privilege (the stick).

Another example of incentive motivation is playing out currently with companies and government entities offering perks to people who get the Covid vaccine. Nationwide, offers are being made in the way of lottery tickets, cash prizes, concert seats, free admission to events and discounts for food, and even free drink at local restaurants and bars. The list of incentives being offered to the public to increase vaccination rates is pretty extensive and quite creative.[2]  These incentives are financial, social, and even hit on moral sensibilities. But is this particular incentive motivation working?

Remember that a key to incentive motivation working is if the individual puts importance on the reward being received on the ultimate goal. So, not all incentives will motivate people in the same way. According to Stephen L. Franzoi, “The value of an incentive can change over time and in different situations.”[3]

How Does Incentive Motivation Differ from Other Types of Motivators?

Incentive motivation is just one type of motivating force that relies on external factors. While rewards are powerful tools in influencing behaviors, a few other options may be more aligned with who you are and what gets you moving toward your goals.

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Fear Motivation

In many ways, being motivated by fear is the very opposite of being motivated by incentives. Rather than pursuing some reward, it’s the avoidance of some consequence or painful punishment that sparks someone into action. For example, married couples may “forsake all others” not out of love or commitment but out of a fear that they may be “taken to the cleaners” by their spouses if their infidelities are revealed.

Another example wherein fear becomes the great motivator is one we’re hearing about more and more as we’re coming out of this pandemic—the fear of being poor. The fear of being poor has kept many people in jobs they hate. It’s only now that we see a reversal as headlines are shining a light on just how many workers are quitting and refusing to go back to the way things were.

Social Motivation

Human beings are social creatures. The desire to belong is a powerful motivator. This type of social motivation sparks one’s behavior in ways that, hopefully, result in an individual being accepted by a certain group or other individuals.

The rise of the Internet and the explosion of social media engagement has been both positive and negative in its power to motivate us to be included among what during our school days would be called “the cool kids” or “cliques” (jocks, nerds, artsy, gamers, etc.). We probably all have experienced at one time or another the feelings associated with “not being chosen”—whether to be on a team to play some game or as the winning candidate for some job or competition. Social rejection can make or break us.

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Before You Get Up and Go…

Know that, especially during these challenging times, it’s “normal” and very much “okay” to feel a lack of motivation. Know, too, that external motivators, such as those we’ve talked about in this article, can be great tools to get your spark back. We’ve only touched on a few here. There are many more—both external and internal.

Remember that these external motivators, such as incentive motivations, are only as powerful as the importance placed on the reward by the individual. It’s also important to note that if there isn’t an aligned internal motivation, the results will more than likely be short-lived.

For example, losing a certain amount of weight because you want to fit into some outfit you intend to wear at some public event may get you to where you want to be. But will it hold up after your party? Or will those pounds find their way back to you? If you want to be rewarded at work with that trip to the islands because you’ve topped the charts in sales and hustle to make your numbers, will you be motivated again and again for that same incentive? Or will you need more and more to stay motivated?

Viktor Frankl, the 20th-century psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor, and author of the best-selling book, Man’s Search for Meaning, is quoted as having said, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” As important as external motivators like incentives may be in influencing behaviors, the key is always to align them with one’s internal “why”—only then will the results be long-lived.

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So, how might incentive motivation influence you and your behavior toward goals? Knowing your answer might keep you energized no matter what your journey and help to further your successes.

Featured photo credit: Atharva Tulsi via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Britannica: Incentive motivation
[2] National Governors Association: COVID-19 Vaccine Incentives
[3] verywellmind: The Incentive Theory of Motivation

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