Are you struggling to keep your focus or your interest in work today? Well, you're not alone. And it may relieve you to know it’s natural. AND that we’re not even designed as humans to be motivated all the time. But here are some strategies I like to use to stoke motivation when I need it, or keep the motivation ‘juice’ going in my body for longer periods of time.
First, some basics...
Motivation, at its foundation, is neurochemically, emotionally related to DOPAMINE in our bodies. And who doesn’t love dopamine? It feels great!
Winning, scoring, orgasm, making a quick profit and even those ‘likes’ on social media, are all sources of dopamine. Which in and of itself... as PART OF a more comprehensive package of ‘feel-good’ sources…. isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
But dopamine as your SOLE ‘reward’ motivator can become unhealthy. Especially, if it’s all you use to set goals etc.
👉 A lack of diverse resources in ANY category can lead to dependence / addiction. We sort of all know this at heart, right? We can become dependent on everything from drugs to work and everything in between if it’s the ONLY source of getting our neuro-chemical, psychoemotional needs met.
👉 Plus dopamine is short-lived and needs constant replenishment. So I think we can all see the potential problem there. Constantly replacing dopamine can be exhausting! AND if we aren’t careful, we can get caught up in some pretty unhelpful, addictive sources of it. Know what I'm saying?
👉 So to elicit ‘motivation’ in healthier, diverse and non-dependent ways, we need get ADDITIONAL ‘body-chemicals’ in the game - ones like serotonin (the ‘significance’ emotional, body-chemical)… and longer-lasting ones like oxytocin (the connection and relational emotional body-chemical).
👉 DIVERSIFYING how we stoke ‘motivation’ decreases our reliance on any one source, simply because we have other sources if one isn’t consistent. (Think of a financial portfolio - you definitely want that diversified for the same reasons if you want to consistently see financial growth ). Plus by including longer-lasting emotional responses like serotonin and oxytocin in the mix…the short-lived aspects of dopamine are optimized.
Some strategies for eliciting 'motivation', or keep it up for longer periods...
👉 1) Break tasks down into smaller pieces and...
👉 2) Set a new goal, just as you're meeting the one you're currently working on.
These first two strategies more or less optimize dopamines short-life by dispersing smaller ‘hits’ continuously, rather than serving up one big one after meeting one big goal, and then having an intense, long-lasting 'dip' afterwards.
👉 3) Make sure whatever you're working on is HEART-BASED or connected to something you really VALUE in your life.
And I'm talking the real-deal stuff. Not just shiny, new toys etc. Like, if you died tomorrow, what's really important for you to have experienced?
👉 4) Have your goals Involve COMMUNITY or service to others in some way.
It doesn't have to be an overly altruistic, 'do-gooder' type thing. Just take number 3 above, and have what you're working on, in part be tied to others in some helpful way.
These last two strategies onboard other, LONGER-LASTING body-chemicals like oxytocin and serotonin, which when combined with dopamine, are far more sustainable, longer-lasting sources of motivation.
What I hope this understanding does for you....
👉 that it help you TAKE THE PRESSURE OFF yourself to always be ‘up’, ‘on’ and ‘in flow’. It’s not what we’re physiologically designed to experience all the time. It’s completely okay to feel just ‘neutral’ some days. Which… by comparison may feel ‘low’. But is it? Or is it simply ‘lowER’ than what you’ve been expecting to feel every day? Worth thinking about.
👉 that it provides you with some OBJECTIVITY about your emotional state as you experience it. It’s not YOU that’s lacking motivation, its just your BRAIN and BODY low on 'motivation', emotional body-chemicals OR maybe…. just taking a needed break from producing them.
There ARE practices we all can do to help our brain-body produce more of what we need when we need it. (see link below)
And if you're willing to do the work, you can also train it to activate moderate amounts of emotion more consistently.
However, If your ‘low’ state is prolonged, frequent or gets really intense, further self-inquiry will help you get to the root of it. There are some terrific, highly skilled practitioners who can support you as you do it. So please reach out for support and guidance if that applies to you.
Okay, that’s it.
Think about this over the next few days.
👉 Think about your current sources of ‘motivation’ and consider diversifying them.
👉 Take a look at your current goals and consider expanding them to include ones that are heart or value- based and involve other people in a service-oriented way….
👉 And try breaking up your big goals into smaller ones, celebrating each win along the way.
And by all means, cut yourself some slack. Some days you may just need a break, some rest or to go out and play.
I’m pulling for you.
You can learn more about other body-emotions and neuro-chemicals you can manage and what you can do to feel ‘better’ more consistently in this free hour-long presentation.
If this makes sense to you, come join our community! We’re using knowledge of our brains and bodies to create calmer, more confident and connected relationships. And we'd love for you to be part of that.
The Human Infusion Projectis a philanthropic, personal development platform that draws from the combined fields of modern brain science, applied psychology and spiritual philosophy. Our mission aims to augment and supplement the work of professional practitioners in simplified, practical and affordable ways. 100% of all online class proceeds funds the Wellness Assistance Grant.