The workplace is an ultra-competitive space for many people. To stay on top of the game, most of us work extremely hard. We do the best that we can on a daily basis, so that our efforts are noticed. For the most part, this seems to be the best approach, but the problem is sometimes hard work alone doesn’t lead to success. And coming to this realisation leads to demotivation, which makes it impossible to keep operating at the high standards you’ve set for yourself.
For other people, demotivation stems from external factors such as being in the wrong profession, disinterest in the task at hand, lack of skills or a routine task that has become a bore but still needs to be done. To help us understand what makes a person want to wake up in the morning and be filled with the desire to go to work, we spoke to clinical and behaviour psychologist, H’vovi Bhagwagar, who runs a private practice called Manashni
Manage Your Motivation
As for where demotivation stems from, Bhagwagar had this to say: “Some people have depressive tendencies which makes them prone to negative thinking. When faced with a complex task they are more likely to have automatic thoughts such as ‘I will fail, I am too dumb to do this, this task is stupid.’ Such thinking usually leads them to give up easily, procrastinate or even avoid attempting the task.”
The key to managing motivation levels is to adopt what she calls ‘balanced thinking’: “Reframe the negative thoughts about the setback from ‘This setback is the end. I’ve failed,’ to ‘This setback is unpleasant and unfortunate but temporary. It’s not a permanent failure.’”
The good news is that motivation is something that you can trick your brain into feeling motivated. And the rewards for doing so are plentiful – a high motivation level leads to more risk-taking since you feel more capable of completing any task, helps you make friends more easily since you’re always seeking and offering guidance, and you feel less stress as there is less avoidance and procrastination of tasks. And, of course, the biggest benefit of all – a healthy mind in a healthy body.
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Trick Your Brain
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- If there’s a task that’s unpleasant to you – such as daily exercise or dieting – do it with a buddy, so that way you have someone to keep you motivated towards achieving your goals.
- Social media can be a great tool to stay motivated. Post about your goals and keep updating your progress. The comments and encouragement which will steadily pour in will help you stay motivated. Even if you’re feeling demotivated about something, post about it and take comfort in the encouragement you’ll receive from friends and family.
- Break big tasks down until they can be done in manageable segments. “If there is an office report you are procrastinating on out of lack of motivation, break it down to the easiest bit and do that first. When working on something unpleasant, people are 90 percent likely to gain momentum once they've started,” says Bhagwagar.
- Mindfully observe which part of the day you feel more energised during and which parts have you feeling a little droopy. Then try to do the tasks that appear more challenging during those times when you feel most energised.
- If you spend a lot of time working on a computer, use technology to your advantage. “Site-blocking plugins can be downloaded. Or try using an app that helps you concentrate on one task at a time,” says Bhagwagar.
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- Discuss lack of motivation with a mentor, coach, friend or spouse. This might help you gain a new perspective.
- Take care of physical needs such as hunger and sleep. These might seem simple but it goes a long way towards fuelling your body with the energy required to stay motivated .
- A lack of motivation is highly associated with the emotions of anxiety and sadness. Doing some calming exercises or creating a playlist on the phone with your favourite happy songs is a good way to counter these emotions.
- Stay organized. Lack of motivation sometimes comes from having to organize loads of data before getting to the actual task.