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How to Hack Your Motivation & Give Your Work The Vitality It Needs

In an ideal world, when we set our mind to a task, we can just do it. No questions asked. Or better yet pay someone else to do it for you. But life’s never that simple, is it? Sometimes we get rundown, or even just disengaged in the project we’re trying to complete.

It always comes down to one thing, motivation. Everyone talks about it, heck you see it in most job adverts “must be motivated”. But who turns up to a job interview and actually says “No I’m not motivated”?

Even worse is the question “What motivates you in life?” what the person is really asking is “what do you like spending your time doing?” If you’ve ever been in a sales interview and you didn’t answer the question “what motivates you”, with “MONEY!” you’re out the door…

But motivation isn’t that simple, you see there are 2 different types of motivation. There’s intrinsic, and then there’s extrinsic motivation. And you better get familiar with it if you want to take control of your projects.

So what is an intrinsic and extrinsic motivation? Well, Business Dictionary defines intrinsic motivation as: “Stimulation that drives an individual to adopt or change a behaviour for his or her own internal satisfaction or fulfilment.”

It defines extrinsic as: “Drive to action that (as opposed to intrinsic motivation) springs from outside influences instead of from one’s own feelings.”

If you ever need confirmation that there are two different types of motivation, just look at the size of Wikipedia.

There’s tons of high-level content on there, with no monetary gain.

Think about it, people who are experts in a subject are spending hours upon hours, writing about topics, with no other incentive apart from their intrinsic motivator of ‘feeling good’.

And this is important to consider when you think you can just motivate yourself or others with a giant extrinsic motivator such as money.

An Interview With a Business Psychologist

This is echoed in a recent interview with Simon Kilpatrick a business psychologist, conducted by People HR earlier this year. They asked him “Is a fair salary enough motivation?” in the context of a work environment.

His response was that “salary definitely plays a part… …however, the impact of salary as a motivator tends to diminish over time. A fair salary mostly just keeps your employees turning up to work – it doesn’t necessarily keep them at their productive best.”

Within this answer lies a lot of meaning and direction. Simply, you can’t throw money at a problem and expect it to always work out best for you. As we know, people are a lot more complex than that.

Simon goes on to explain that external motivators such as money, holiday allowance, company cars, etc., can make you want and need your job/work. However, you may not necessarily want to do the work.

And it’s within this, that many people’s motivation simply drains away. That is an over-reliance on external motivators.

Simon suggests that to appeal to people and your own intrinsic motivators, you need the right balance of work and play. That and a variety of work. If a job becomes repetitive, people switch off, become disengaged and go into “auto-pilot”.

Heck, this is even worse when you’re your own boss. There is literally no one else above you to force (scare) you into working. It begs one last question.

At What Stage Do Extrinsic Motivators Fail and How Can I Keep Myself Motivated?

For this answer, we need to go back to the 1940s and look at some of the work by a guy called Maslow.

The idea is we start off on the base of this pyramid and work our way up. Physiological just means you’re motivated towards the likes of food, water, shelter etc. – which is what money buys.

But if you’ve got that all covered, external motivation using money becomes a bit more complicated.

Unless you can link working harder to: finding love, feeling good/positive about yourself and becoming the best in a skill, you’re going to struggle to motivate yourself and others.

So now that we understand how we’re motivated better, how can we ‘hack it’ for ourselves and others? Well, if you’re one of the many people who doesn’t have a boss, linking up with other like-minded people in “accountability groups” is a good start.

You explain your goals, you set yourself a time limit and you meet up with members of your accountability groups once a month. It’s a horrible feeling being the only person in your group who didn’t meet their goal.

You can even go one step further and donate large sums of money to charity for not completing your tasks. Some people donate money to charities they dislike to make it even worse!

With motivating staff, find out what they enjoy doing in their spare time. Can you help them in some way and tie a reward to it? Some staff may surprise you, and look to be the best at their job (self -actualisation) and you should support that with training and a better experience.

Lastly, keep things fresh and new. A new environment to work in, new problems to solve. Add a bit of creativity into jobs, so they don’t feel like work. Motivation becomes a lot easier when you begin to realise how easy it is to influence.

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