Motivation is the desire to perform voluntary movements to achieve a desired outcome.
Motivation levels are related to the perceived difficulty of a task and the perceived rewards that come from completing the task. When the rewards for completing a difficult task is small, the motivation to complete it will naturally be low.
And neuroscientists have found that during periods of low motivation, voluntary movements are explicitly inhibited by a region of in your brain known as Habenula. The Habenula also regulates sleep which explains why you would feel sleepy when you lose motivation.
The inhibition of voluntary movements first began when dopamine production is being inhibited. Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter that help electrical impulses move across a gap (synapse) between two neurons. The lack of dopamine meant the intensity of electrical impulses will drop as it move across gaps (synapses). Lower intensity of electrical impulses will reach our muscles to invoke voluntary movements, making voluntary movements harder.
Plus, to invoke the same voluntary movements, higher than normal intensity of electrical impulses are needed so as to compensate for drop in intensity of electrical impulses. As higher intensity of electrical impulses are needed to perform the same task, the brain will perceive the same task to be harder during periods of low motivations as compared to during periods of high motivation.
As mentioned in the first paragraph, our brain is wired to make value-based decision. When the perceived difficulty of a task suddenly increases during period of low motivation, our motivational level will slide further down. Eventually leading to a downward spiral in motivational level unless something is done to stop it.
So what can we do to keep our motivation level up?
And mentioned earlier, our brains are wired to make value-based decision. The easier the task and the larger the rewards, the more motivated we are to complete it. There are two ways to increase our motivational level. The first is to reduce the perceived difficulty of the task and the second is to increase the perceived rewards from completing the task.
The first step to reduce the perceived difficulty of a task is to break the task into as small segment as possible. For example, closing 80 sales in one months seems difficult. However, if we consider 20 working days in a month, a salesman just have to close 4 sales in a day, 2 sales before lunch and 2 sales after lunch. And since we have roughly 4 hours before and after lunch, a salesperson just have to focus on closing one sale every 2 hours. Focusing on closing a single sale every two hours definitely sound easier than closing 80 sales in a month.
The second step is to remember that the first time in any task will always be the toughest. So long you do not give up and keep trying, you will find yourself getting better at completing the task. The perceived difficulty of the task will eventually drop and you will find yourself ever more motivated to complete it.
Being aware of other byproduct rewards that comes from completing a task will make you feel more motivated. One of the most obvious reward in complete a task is monetary gains but money itself a bad motivator. Instead, think of the people whose life will be improve by your work, think of the skills that you will develop when you finish the task. People tend to ignore byproduct rewards, making the perceived reward to be lesser. By recognizing byproduct rewards that comes from completing a task, you will find youself more motivated to complete it.
Staying focused on your end goals will keep you motivated. When we lose focus on the end-point, we start to perceive the reward to be lesser and as such, reducing our motivation level. By constantly reminding yourself of your end-goals and the rewards that it will bring, you will definitely feel more motivated to complete the task and achieve your goal.
Lastly, believing that you will be rewarded well will keep you motivated. It is not easy to have believe that you will be rewarded well for your hard work because rewards do not come instantly and the future can be hard to predict. But the moment you start doubting the rewards, you will start to perceive the rewards to be much lower, making you less motivated to strive for it. The best way to have faith is to seek out mentor who is already successful and reaping the rewards. By having a living proof, it is much easier to convince yourself that you will be rewarded well for your hard work will help to keep you motivated.
In conclusion, we have seen that motivation to complete a task depends on the perceived difficulty of the task and the perceived rewards from completing the task. And when the perceived reward for completing a difficult task is low, our motivation level will drop and our brain will explictily inhibit motor functions. The inhibition of motor functions will prevent us from completing the task. Lastly, we can change the way we perceive the difficulty and the rewards of a task, thereby influencing out motivation level and keeping it high to help us finish the task and achieve the desired outcome.