Motivation is a code everyone is trying to crack. Whether it’s physical fitness, career progress, or personal accomplishments, motivation is necessary for success in all areas of life.
In Career Analyst Dan Pink’s TED Talk, The Puzzle of Motivation, he outlines just how and why motivating ourselves and others can be confusing. In fact, the way motivation works is often counter-intuitive, with traditional rewards and incentives proving ineffective. Watch his talk and consider these 5 motivation killers to stop making the same mistakes at work and in your personal life.
As technology becomes more and more integral to our day-to-day lives, it can also become more and more invasive. Thus, the potential for distractions is at an all-time high. When you need a break from a project, distractions can be healthy and allow for a much-needed fresh perspective. However, distractions can also suck up large chunks of time and tire you out before you can even get any work done.
Ask yourself this: what makes distractions a bad thing? Basically, they are only a problem when they take the place of productivity. So to stay motivated, break your work up into small portions. Minute tasks are easier to complete. You’re also less likely to be tempted by distractions when you work on simple tasks.
Typically, we think of resistance as equivalent to a lack of motivation. But resistance can also cause your motivation to deteriorate. If you are resistant to a task, you’ll feel less motivated than if you were open to it. So habits as simple as not complaining, trying to be positive, and expecting the best outcome will help you see the potential value of a task, thus freeing up space for motivation.
This idea is an obvious, yet underutilized one. We tend to get in habits of procrastination and complaining when we don’t want to do something. But in many cases, it’s these habits themselves that stifle our motivation and prolong work that could’ve been finished sooner.
3. Unrealistic Standards
There’s no greater motivation killer than failure. To avoid feeling like a failure, it’s important to set realistic standards, especially at the beginning of a project. You want to set some moderate goals and some easily attainable goals to give yourself a continuous source of motivation. As you progress forward with a project, those mini achievements will keep you positive and encouraged.
To judge whether your standards are realistic or not, consider the position you are in. For example, someone with a ton of spare time will find it easier to incorporate an hour of exercise into their daily routine. So if you’re very busy, setting a standard you barely have time to achieve will set you up for failure and de-motivate you.
What better way to kill your motivation than to compare yourself with others? There are a few reasons comparisons should be avoided. First, it’s impossible to truly know the inner-workings of another person and their progress. For example, a business may look extremely successful on the outside – while in reality it’s going bankrupt. Similarly, a person may appear happy and self-assure, while inside they’re filled with anxiety.
Another reason comparisons don’t benefit you is that you may be comparing yourself/your project unfairly. For example: comparing your new business to an established business, or comparing the skills you have to the skills of an older, more experienced person. The only comparison that will boost your motivation is the comparison between your present situation and past situation. By doing this, you can truly evaluate your progress and celebrate how far you’ve come.
5. Negative people
Sometimes our only problem is that we let people talk us out of things. It’s key to determine when people are being helpful (and you should heed their advice), or when they are being negative (and you should take their words with a grain of salt).
So how can you decipher who’s who? If someone has a tendency to emphasize all the reasons something cannot be done, they are probably being unnecessarily pessimistic. Don’t let this drain your motivation, as these people may just be expressing their anxieties. On the other hand, conversing with those who believe in your goals can be a great way to enhance excitement and motivation.