Energy and motivation are key components in any successful life and are also closely related to each other. You can create energy by generating motivation, and even though you have a lack of motivation to get something done, if you have a surplus of energy in the tank you can complete any task.
In this short post, I list some of the principles and ideas that I have come across and have applied in my life to generate massive amounts of energy and motivation. Even in the midst of this depressing quarantine, I was able to get more things accomplished than ever before in my life using these simple but not so obvious tactics.
The Puzzle Of Motivation
An intriguing study done by Princeton University professor Sam Glucksberg shows that people who are not given incentives outperform those who are provided with rewards. However, further research done by MIT researcher Dan Ariely shows that this is only the case with logical tasks such as problem-solving, art, etc. So with tasks that don't require much thought or focus, incentives do improve performance.
However, motivation that comes in the form of incentives such as a promotion, money, status, or anything external is dangerous. The moment you take these things away and you're left with almost nothing to work for and can you end up quitting altogether.
So what can we do?
In his book So Good They Can't Ignore You, Cal Newport outlines three factors described as "nutrients" required to feel intrinsically motivated:
- Autonomy: the feeling that you have control over your day.
- Competence: the feeling that you are good at what you do.
- Relatedness: the feeling of connection to other people
If the work you're doing has none of these things it's best that to quit it, and find something that does. However, if that is not a choice which it probably won't be for many of you I recommend that you try implementing these three principles into your daily work routine as much as possible.
For example, ask your boss if you can work remotely from home once a week, but do it in a smart way (Autonomy). Secondly, start deliberately trying to get better at your job. Many times we just cruise by without clear goals as to how to improve, this can lead to things becoming repetitive and boring. I highly recommend checking out 🗻 Peak if you're serious about this. If your work is something that a monkey can do, then I recommend learning a skill on the side such as coding that can maybe automate the task and increase your value as an employee. For relatedness, you can maybe ask your manager if it's possible to implement something as simple as 5% of all profits going to a charity you believe in for a month. This not only makes the company look better but is (although on a small scale) making the world a better place.
If you're a student, the best way to get motivated is to start loving to learn again. Instead of "having to do something", it's something you "get" to do. College is the only time in your life where you're allowed to learn a vast range of subjects taught by experts. The importance of having basic knowledge of a variety of fields and learning to become a generalist cannot be undermined in the competitive landscape we now live in.
Generating Infinite Energy
In this incredible interview with peak performance coach Todd Herman, Herman explains how he coaches the top performers in the world to generate energy at will: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSJOtmZHI8I
Create different triggers you can use to prime yourself to enter a state of focus or relaxation. For example, every morning at your desk put on some sort of bracelet or ring, flip up the frame of your family that you put face from your previous work session, and repeat some a mantra or prayer while closing your eyes. This is just one example, it's not important what you do exactly, but the fact that you tie meaning to the triggers you perform on a daily basis. For me, I only drink coffee during deep work sessions, and never any time else. When I'm out with my friends and we go to a coffee shop I never order coffee because I've primed my brain to associate coffee with intense focus, not relaxing.
Embody a Character
Herman also mentions a fascinating study performed with a group of children where they gave three groups of kids an impossible problem to solve. One group was the control, another group was told that to pretend they were their favorite superheros, and the last group put on costumes of their favorite characters such as Batman or Dora the Explorer. The Control group quit quickly, the second group outlasted the first group, and the costume group outlasted the second group and was even seen using self-talk such as "Batman wouldn't quit".
We need to tie identity with what we are doing essentially. If you're striving to be an artist, during the tough times when you want to quit you have to look to figures like Michaelangelo who shows incredible work ethic. You need to truly believe you are also capable of achieving greatness. Growth mindset > Fixed mindset.
"If people knew how hard I worked to achieve my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful after all" - Michaelangelo
For me personally I have pictures of Tony Stark, and Elon as screen savers on all my devices, so when doubt and tiredness creeps in these photos remind me of what I want to eventually become and instantly gives me energy to keep working.
So in conclusion I didn't really go over any obvious answers such as sleeping 8 hours, exercising and eating healthy because these are things everyone knows. When all the basic needs of the human body are met and you still feel sluggish thats when a perspective shift can make a world of a difference. If you feel like you got any sort of value from this article please do share, and subscribe to our newsletter where you'll see more stuff like this!