The role of emotions in motivation
Motivation is what drives us to act towards a goal, whether it’s something as simple as making you a snack because you’re hungry or as complex as getting a bachelor’s degree at a university.
Motivation involves a series of physical, emotional, cognitive and social processes that push us to move and act in a certain way.
That is, it is the one that explains why people do something, why they act in one way and not another or why they do it now instead of leaving it for later.
People set out to do something when they have a motive that is important enough to overcome obstacles.
Therefore, being clear about your motives for action is a very important aspect of motivation.
Emotions play a fundamental role in motivation, because they can work by either increasing or decreasing it.
For example, you may have very good reasons for learning to drive, but if you are afraid, this may be more intense than your reasons for learning and prevent you from even trying.
In this case, to increase motivation it would be necessary to first reduce fear or other negative emotions and increase positive emotions.
How can you do this? First, try to be optimistic and generate positive emotions. To do this, don’t forget the important role your thinking plays in generating emotions.
If you think: “In the end it’s sure to go wrong, I don’t think it’s worth the effort if I’m sure I won’t make it”, then you’re not motivating at all, quite the opposite.
Therefore, try to have a realistic and optimistic thought and not just focus on the bad or the worst that can happen.
To increase optimism and positive emotions:
- Keep in mind the positive results you can achieve if you get going.
- Evaluate your progress, be aware of the small steps you are taking and praise yourself for them, also congratulate yourself for how you are solving the problems that arise or for your way of overcoming obstacles.
- Keep in mind what you are learning as you act to reach your goal, for that is also important and valuable in itself.
- Try to enjoy every step you take toward your goal.
Making progress is one of the most motivating things when it comes to achieving a goal. On the other hand, when something happens that makes you fall back, it can be very demotivating, so you have to prepare yourself to face these kinds of situations.
How? Using your thinking in a constructive way.
For example, you might think, “Okay, I went backwards, but this happened because I was following a wrong path, now I will take another path and it will do better; it is preferable to rectify in time.”
What you can do to motivate yourself
Start doing anything, no matter how small. The important thing is to get going and take only the first step. Then everything gets easier.
For example, if you have to do something that you find unpleasant or boring, such as cleaning the house, propose just cleaning a window. Once you’re up and running, you can propose the next step.
- Make a list of your motives and don’t forget them. If you’ve decided to tidy up your storage room, it’s because you like things to be tidy, because you’ll find them better, or because you’ll have a more positive feeling when you enter it and see everything tidy.
If you have proposed to study for an exam, think about having the summer off instead of spending it studying or whatever the reason you want to pass that exam. So when your motivation fails, remember your reasons for moving forward.
Display the result. Imagine that you have already reached your goal, the feeling of achievement and triumph and the positive results you get.
- Do things you enjoy. Without a doubt, what motivates a person the most is what he enjoys while doing it. If you love photography, you will have a high motivation to sign up for a course. If you like to go out for a run, you will be motivated to exercise.
If you take a look at your life and see that most of the things you do don’t motivate you at all, it may be time to make some changes.
Start by asking yourself why you do what you do (if your motives are valid, if they are your motives and not those of others, etc.) and if it is really worth doing it.
If your life has become a lot of boring tasks, you need to start doing things that you like and motivate.
That way, it’s easier for you to face the most boring tasks and obligations because you’ll also have more pleasant ones to make up for.
- Practice mindfulness with everything you do. If you have to do something for which you are unmotivated, you can see it as an opportunity to practice mindfulness.
Not only will it make the task less boring and increase your motivation, but you’ll also be relaxing your mind and enjoying the many benefits of mindfulness. Take a look at the mindfulness section to learn more about this topic.
- Feed your mind (and your life). A general lack of motivation may be because your life has become monotonous and boring where there is hardly anything new or challenging.
Imagine if you had to eat the same insipid mashed potatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner; you would surely lose a good part of your appetite.
If your life has become a tasteless puree, a good way to start changing is to read, whether it’s books, magazines, websites, blogs or anything that stimulates your mind and gives you new ideas to think or act on.
For example, by reading the section on mindfulness in this article you could decide that you want to know more about the subject, practice it, check its benefits or even look for a book to find out more.
I mean, you’d have a goal and the motivation to reach it.
- Control your environment as much as possible to help you motivate yourself. For example, having a slow computer that constantly locks up doesn’t motivate much at work.
Having to study or work in an unpleasant, cold, dark or noisy environment, either. Being surrounded by passive and unenthusiastic people is another motivation poison. Therefore, try to create as favorable an environment as possible.
- Handle small frustrations. When you have set out to achieve your goal, small frustrations or problems may arise from time to time that you think are silly or unimportant, that “should not” happen, that suppose frustration, push you out of your way and cause your favorite foul words to come out of your mouth.
If you think so of these little obstacles, they will affect you so much that they will kill your motivation.
Look at them as any other major problem, as if they were major problems that require you to lend them all the time you need and consider them part of the work you must do to reach your goal.
In this way, you will be accepting them instead of bitterness thinking that they should not happen and you will face them better.