Some days, it’s really hard to get motivated to do the tasks we need to get done. This can be because we feel tired, overwhelmed or we just don’t feel like doing anything! There’ve been decades of scientific research into the motivations behind human and animal behaviour, and it all comes down to a very simple concept –
we are motivated to take action when there is reward attached to it.
The fact that this so consistent with humans as well as animals suggests that there is a biological reason for this, and that’s true. There’s a naturally produced chemical in our bodies called dopamine, and this is often referred to as the ‘feel good’ chemical, as it’s released when we achieve or attain something and that makes us ‘feel good’. This explains why we feel good when we buy something new, receive a gift or if our work is praised – it’s actually a chemical reaction in our brains.
However, dopamine does much more than make us feel good. Recent studies have shown that dopamine acts in the brain before we make our move, and is responsible for motivating us to act, either to attain something we want, or to avoid pain or danger.
So how can we use this science to improve our own motivation?
Well, it’s actually easier that you might think! Dopamine is made in our bodies using certain nutrients such as the amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine as well as vitamin B6. In a balanced diet, we receive these nutrients every day, but if the diet isn’t adequate then we may not have enough of these nutrients. Foods such as almonds, eggs, avocado, pumpkin seeds, soy beans and bananas are great sources of tyrosine, phenylalanine and vitamin B6. Magnesium and zinc are also needed to produce dopamine and you can find these minerals in whole grains, eggs, brewer’s yeast, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
We can also help to generate dopamine in our brains by setting up small rewards when we approach a task. A little trick I use ALL the time when I’ve been putting off a task (like clearing out my wardrobe!) is to promise myself that I can stop after 10 minutes, no matter if the task is finished or not. Let’s face it, that’s a pretty achievable goal. Usually at the end of that 10 minutes, I’m pretty happy to keep going and the job gets done.
Any task can be broken down into small parts or goals, and each time you achieve that small goal, dopamine will be generated and that will motivate you to continue. It can help to write these smaller goals down so that you can cross them off when they are done. Seeing your progress will generate your dopamine and make you feel good, and yes, I LOVE a ‘to do list’ for just this reason!
Pretty awesome right?
These are easy ways to boost your motivation, and using the combination of nutrition, completing small tasks and recognising each task as it’s finished is the key.
Do you have any tips that you’d like to share on how you get motivated to do stuff? I’d love to hear them – just comment below or send me a message.