How to Generate Motivation at Will to Be More Productive
Learn how to change your state so you can be more productive.
Have you ever found yourself wanting to achieve a goal, started excitedly only to lose interest soon thereafter? And have you ever told yourself the reason is because you “lack motivation”?
The topic of motivation is heated because some people don’t believe that it exists. There’s only discipline and hard work.
To some extent, I agree with this theory, because no matter how many self-help books you read and no irrespective of many motivational quotes you like on Instagram, nothing is actually going to get you to do the thing that you need to do when you need to do it.
But this doesn't mean that you can't tap into a motivational state and that's what I’m here to help you to accomplish.
In this blog, I discuss how to generate states that will help you be more productive and more motivated.
The Two Categories of Motivation
Before we dive into generating motivation, let’s take a look at the two different categories of motivation. These are categories I’ve come up with myself because they reflect how I view motivation as a whole.
1. Things we have to do, but just don’t feel like doing
2. Things we want to do, but keep finding excuses not to
Things we have to do, but just don’t feel like doing
I'm sure you have a whole bunch of things on your to-do list that you know you need to do but avoid doing. I’m talking about things like going for a dental checkup, completing your tax return, a big project at work that you've been dabbling with for months on end.
We all have these things that we know we need to do but we just put off because we don't feel like doing it. And oftentimes we land up stressing and working into the wee hours of the morning to get the task done on time.
It’s no surprise that this can cause a lot of unnecessary stress and major repercussions if you don’t meet your deadline.
Things we want to do, but keep finding excuses not to
Then there are the things we really want to do, but for whatever reason, don’t.
Some examples are: quitting smoking, working out regularly, eating healthily, booking a holiday, completing our studies to earn our next qualification.
We want to improve our lives, but inexplicably we don’t take the necessary action to do so.
Where does procrastination fit in?
Naturally, the topic of motivation is very closely linked with procrastination because if you can't get yourself to do something and you constantly make excuses then you’ve caught in a procrastination loop.
I think we’re all guilty of this from time to time!
Most of the time it comes down to the theory that humans by default will take the path of least resistance.
The problem with all this inaction
It makes sense that we constantly hold ourselves back because why would we want to do something that we don't want to do (or do want to do, but find reasons not to) in a day and age where everyone is promoting “be your authentic self” and be “true to you”.
Translation: ease and comfort first, hard work can wait.
Now does that mean I can skip laundry day?
So what we want to do is be able to tap into the ability to generate motivation at will and I’m going to show you exactly how I do it.
How to rewire the brain for motivation
To generate motivation (change your state), it’s essential to focus on the repercussions of not doing the thing.
As humans, we are inherently wired to seek out pleasure and avoid pain. Once you know this, you can use it to your advantage.
So find a quiet spot and give yourself 10 minutes to practice this visualisation exercise.
I suggest that you read through the exercise once or twice so that you can do it by yourself without having to read the instructions (as this will break your state of concentration).
Close your eyes and breathe deeply to get into a calm state.
Visualization Part 1
- Picture the hardship of not doing what it is you need to do (this can be something you either have to do or want to do).
- Imagine how much bigger the problem will be if you don’t do it.
- Vividly imagine the reactions of people who you will let down if you don’t do what you need to do.
- Utilise all your senses. Hear their voices, see the look of anger/hurt/frustration/disappointment in their eyes.
- Imagine how it feels to be crushed by the pressure of a looming deadline.
- When you feel as though your head is about to burst because the imagined pain of inaction is so intense, take a deep breath and open your eyes.
Shake your hands out in front of you and shrug your shoulders. Take 3 slow, deep breaths in and out.
Now settle down by closing your eyes and breathing calmly again.
We’re going to move into the second phase of the visualisation.
Visualization Part 2
- Picture the happiness of doing what it is you need to do (this can be something you either have to do or want to do).
- Imagine how intensely your relief is that you committed to the task and got it done before it was due.
- Vividly imagine the reactions of people who are impressed by your hard work.
- Utilise all your senses. Hear their voices praise you, see the look of respect/happiness/pride/awe in their eyes.
- Imagine how it feels to be on top of your goals and ahead of deadlines.
- Picture how you will spend all the free time you’ve created by being proactive.
- Like the dial on a television, “turn up” the intensity of the pleasure, relief, happiness and pride that you feel in yourself.
- When you feel as though your heart is about to burst because the pleasure is so intense, take a deep breath and open your eyes.
What did we just do?
How does that feel? If you’re a sceptic of visualisation techniques, it seems silly to think that just imagining something can make a difference to your life.
The thing is, our subconscious brain cannot tell the difference between reality and imagination. That’s why we feel scared if we imagine our worst fears. Or we cry if we think of losing a loved one. None of these thoughts are “reality” but our bodies and minds react as though it were true.
So by imagining pain and pleasure, we're rewiring our new neural circuits. We're tapping into our subconscious mind to link our thoughts to a new “reality”. That’s why it’s so important to dial up the pleasure section of the visualisation. You want to show your brain just how beneficial it is to do the work.
Feel free to practice this exercise as often as you need to.
We might not be able to click our fingers and feel instantly motivated but it is possible to use creative visualization to help us generate a motivational state at will, that can help us be more proactive and productive.
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