Cool New Science About Motivation


Performing well, getting things done and constantly improving are part of the human experience. People have an instinct to matter and you want to do great things in your work and in your personal life. And now is the perfect time to reset your motivation and recommit your efforts.

Science has discovered new ways to motivate yourself and improve performance, and some tactics work better than others. The research comes at just the right time: performance is a priority for the majority of people. According to a study by Freaka third of workers regularly think about quitting their job, and looking for loyalty reveals that 61% have already done so.

Whether you think about your performance in light of quitting, staying, or starting something new, it’s about feeling like you matter, knowing you’re valued, and wanting to contribute – it’s about motivating performance.

Work hard, play hard

Interestingly, the inclination to perform well is also linked to the desire to have a good time. A study of Queen’s University found that those with an ambition for “legacy” – the goal of leaving a mark and making a difference, also had a strong desire for “leisure” – a desire to enjoy all that life has to offer. to offer.

But you can also take the determination too far, as studies from the University of Essex have shown. Too much focus on failure, mistakes, or self-criticism driven by a desire for perfect performance can create the conditions for burnout and disengagement, which actually hurts performance and motivation. But it is possible to focus on good performance in a way that serves your goals and improves results.

Performance improvement

According to several studies, motivation and performance are driven by a few main approaches, all of which have proven results.

talk to yourself

  • Are you talking about the results – Based on a study of 44,000 people published by Frontiers in Psychologyone of the best ways to improve performance over time was to coach yourself and provide yourself with a narrative, especially related to a result. Saying to yourself, “I can beat my best score”, is an example of this. Focus on the outcome you want. Faster performance, greater productivity, better customer feedback or more rewarding team experiences are all results you can strive for – and telling yourself you can do it is highly motivating and very good for the company. performance.
  • Are you talking about the process – The Borders the study also found that guiding you and giving you the right kinds of messages regarding process are effective. In this case, you are refining your self-talk about how you perform the task. For example, “I can react faster this time.” Consider the elements of the process that contribute to great performance: preparing an impactful report, making a great presentation, effectively including team members, or gaining support across the organization. Tell yourself that you will be more successful in these stages of the process and you will reap the benefits in terms of motivation and performance.
  • Asking Questions – A Study of University of Illinois found another method that works to motivate performance: ask yourself if you’re going to perform the way you want to. For example, asking, “Am I going to exercise today?” or, “Am I going to give a brilliant presentation?” Asking a question apparently prompts the brain to imagine the process and the success – and stimulates the self-talk and visualization that work so well to inspire successful performance.

use your imagination

  • Imagine Success – The Borders study also showed the power of visualizing success. This, too, was related to both outcome and process – imagining yourself beating your best score or imagining yourself reacting faster. Either way, you’re engaging mirror neurons where your brain experiences success and reinforcing the pathways to behaviors that promote success.

To be curious

  • In addition, general curiosity is significantly linked to the motivation of good performance, according to a study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science. So read widely, seek out different opinions, travel and explore new experiences in order to build your reservoir of information which will be the raw material from which you will draw as you perform.

Focus on the process

  • Focus On Behaviors – And finally, a study published in the consumer psychology journal found motivation tends to change when you are early and late in your performance. At the beginning of the process of pursuing your goals, you will be more effective by taking into account the actions to take to reach them, for example, by focusing on building your network or improving your technical skills. As you progress towards achieving your goals, you will be better served to focus on what you need to avoid– for example, focusing on preventing errors in your analysis or avoiding inaccuracies in your report. This “promotional motivation” and “prevention motivation” approach can help you ensure that your motivation doesn’t run out. Adopt both mindsets to maintain the most motivating goals as your process progresses.

What doesn’t work

While these were the things that worked best for improving performance, there was one approach that was less successful in the experiment published by Borders, and that was scenario planning – imagining a situation and figuring out how to deal with it in advance. While other research has demonstrated the effectiveness of this method, this study suggested that it was not, in fact, the best approach.

In sum

Whether you are looking to perform well in the role today or the job you seek tomorrow, performance is ultimately individual. What works for others may not be what works best for you. But in the spirit of striving to be better, experimenting and improving, learning what’s new and what’s proven can be a great way to move forward into the future you’re in. will have the greatest impact.


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