Are you struggling with staying motivated to get things done? Executive dysfunction can exacerbate this issue. However, there are some powerful ways to increase motivation to help you stay on task and boost your productivity. In this article, I'll share some actionable tips and strategies that you can implement. So, whether you're looking to tackle a big project or just trying to get through your daily tasks, keep reading to learn these powerful ways to increase motivation!
Understand the science behind motivation
Understanding the science behind motivation is important because it can help you identify the best strategies for increasing your motivation.
Most people have heard of dopamine and understand that it makes them happy. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain. It plays a key role in motivation by signaling the reward center of the brain when we achieve a goal or experience pleasure. It acts like the dinging bells and flashing lights of a pinball machine or video game. You win!
Our brains really like that.
This is why setting achievable goals and experiencing small successes can help keep us motivated. Additionally, research has shown that motivation is linked to self-efficacy or the belief in our ability to succeed. By increasing our self-efficacy through small wins and positive self-talk, we can boost our motivation and achieve even greater success. This is why we work on mindset.
Ways to Increase Motivation
Identify Your Goals
Identifying your goals can help increase motivation. When we have a clear understanding of what we want to achieve, we are more likely to stay focused and motivated to work toward it. If you have executive dysfunction, it’s not enough to know that the task is something you’re supposed to do or that you’re expected to do. That’s not a goal.
Here are some tips to help you identify your goals:
- Break down your long-term goals into smaller goals: Sometimes, long-term goals can feel overwhelming. They seem impossible because we don’t know where to start and that makes us feel defeated before we even start. By breaking them down into more manageable goals, you can create a sense of progress and momentum that will help keep you motivated.
For example, if your long-term goal is to start a business, some smaller, achievable goals might include researching your market, creating a business plan, and developing your product or service. As you accomplish each of these smaller tasks, you can see progress and that will boost your motivation.
- Set SMART goals: SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. By setting SMART goals, you can create a clear roadmap for achieving your objectives.
For example, instead of setting a vague goal like “lose weight,” a SMART goal might be “lose 10 pounds in 3 months by going to the gym for 30 minutes, 3 times a week, and eating a balanced diet.” SMART goals give us the step-by-step method we need.
- Prioritize your goals: When you have multiple goals, it's important to prioritize them so that you can focus your energy and attention on the ones that are most important to you. Prioritizing your goals will help you stay motivated and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
For example, if you have a goal to write a book, but you also want to learn a new language and start a business, you may need to prioritize which goal to work on first based on your values and time constraints. As much as we’d like to think we can do it all, we can’t do it all at once. Of course, you can try, but you will see fewer returns on your time because you’ll be spread too thin.
Find Your “Why”
Finding your “why” is a powerful way to increase motivation. When you have a clear understanding of why you want to achieve a goal, you can tap into a deep well of intrinsic motivation that will keep you going. Intrinsic motivation doesn’t just happen. It grows when you see and feel the value in what you’re doing.
Here are some tips to help you find your “why”:
- Identify your values: Your values are the guiding principles that shape your life and define what's important to you. When you align your goals with your values, you'll feel a greater sense of purpose and motivation to achieve them.
For example, if one of your values is creativity, a goal to write a novel might align with that value and provide you with intrinsic motivation to pursue it.
- Connect your goals to your passions: What are you passionate about? What makes you light up every time you think about it or talk about it? When you pursue goals that align with your passions, you'll feel a greater sense of enjoyment and fulfillment, which can fuel your motivation.
For example, if you're passionate about photography, a goal to take a series of landscape photos might align with that passion and provide you with intrinsic motivation to pursue it.
- Reflect on your personal growth: Think about how achieving a particular goal will contribute to your personal growth and development. When you see how your goals align with your personal growth, you can tap into a sense of purpose and motivation to achieve them.
For example, if you're working towards a promotion at work, achieving that goal might help you develop leadership skills or gain experience in a new area, which can contribute to your personal growth and provide you with intrinsic motivation to pursue it.
So here’s the thing about finding your “why” — you might not be able to only do things that you’re passionate about. Wouldn’t life be fabulous if we could? But like you, I live in the real world. It’s okay if your why is “I’m going to work this soul-sucking job because it provides my family with a good life.” You why isn’t your job or even your paycheck, it’s your family.
How you frame your why is as important as knowing what it is. And if you can’t align the big things in your life with your values and passions, make sure that you allow time for those things to happen. If writing a novel is your passion, don’t give up. Steal whatever time you can to write. Giving yourself that outlet will help keep your motivation up for all the other things.
If you’re not at the point of having intrinsic motivation yet, it’s okay to use extrinsic tools to increase motivation. Rewards can help you stay motivated by providing positive reinforcement for your efforts. Here are some tips to help you utilize rewards and consequences effectively:
- Define your rewards: Before you start working toward your goal or task, define the rewards that will motivate you. Make sure your rewards are something that you find motivating and that are on par with the task at hand. You don’t want to go overboard in either direction. Just because you finally folded all your laundry and put it away shouldn’t equal a trip to Hawaii (although that would be quite motivating).
- Set achievable goals: Make sure your goals are realistic and achievable so that you can earn your rewards. Setting goals that are too difficult or unrealistic can be demotivating and may lead to frustration and giving up. As I said, SMART goals will give you the roadmap so you can celebrate achievements along the way.
- Track your progress: Tracking your progress can help you stay motivated and focused on your goals. Use a journal, planner, or app to track your progress and your rewards.
Extrinsic motivation is a means to an end. It’s not something that you should be using forever. Just like when we’re teaching our children and we reward them for doing the task, eventually, we’re able to remove the reward.
Use Positive Self-talk
Using positive self-talk is a powerful way to increase motivation. The way we talk to ourselves can have a significant impact on our mindset and our ability to stay motivated. Here are some tips to help you use positive self-talk:
- Use affirmations: Affirmations are positive statements that you can repeat to yourself to help shift your mindset and increase your motivation. When you use affirmations, you're telling yourself that you're capable of achieving your goals, which can help build your confidence and motivation.
- Reframe negative thoughts: When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, try to reframe them in a more positive way. Instead of focusing on what you can't do or what's not going well, focus on what you can do and what's going well.
- Celebrate your successes: When you achieve a goal or make progress towards it, take the time to celebrate your success. Celebrating your successes can help reinforce the positive mindset and motivation you need to keep moving forward.
Create a Supportive Environment
When your environment supports your goals and your, it’s motivating. It makes it easier to stay on task and when that happens, we see our progress faster. Here are some tips to help you create a supportive environment:
- Surround yourself with supportive people: Surrounding yourself with people who believe in you and support your goals can help you stay motivated. Seek out people who will encourage you, provide feedback, and hold you accountable. We all need to have cheerleaders in our corner—especially if you’ve been in relationships with people who don’t get you.
- Remove distractions: Distractions can be a major obstacle to motivation. Take steps to remove distractions from your environment so that you can stay focused on your goals. Only you can decide what distractions are pulling you from your goals, but you should identify them and minimize them whenever possible.
- Create a positive workspace: Your workspace can have a big impact on your motivation. Make sure your workspace is comfortable, well-lit, and organized. Add some personal touches to make it a pleasant and inviting space. My workspace is not your workspace. The clutter on my desk would be distracting to a lot of people. I could never sit in an unconventional chair (one that wobbles or that you can kneel in), but maybe that’s perfect for you. You get to decide what is positive for you.
- Use tools and technology to support your goals: There are many tools and technologies available that can help you stay motivated and on track. Find tools that work for you and use them to support your goals. I’m all about using tools. The biggest problem is finding the right tools. It’s easy to get distracted by the shiny new thing. Once you find something that works, it’s okay to stick with it instead of looking for the bigger and better thing.
Increasing motivation can be challenging, but there are many powerful ways to do so. Understanding the science behind motivation, identifying your goals, finding your “why,” using positive self-talk, creating a supportive environment, and utilizing rewards are all effective strategies for boosting motivation. Remember to take small steps, be patient with yourself, and celebrate your progress along the way.