3 Brain Hacks to Boost Your Motivation
(Note: This article first appeared on Medium. You can find my original article here: 3 Brain Hacks to Increase Motivation C. Locher)
People often ask me about motivation. It’s part of my trade after all, to help people create, find and access motivation to achieve their goals.
How do people stay motivated, or get motivated? What stops your motivation, especially when you know the goal is something that will really benefit your life?
Today as part of this short article series on the brain, I am sharing with you 3 “brain hacks” to help you get, and stay, motivated:
1. Using NLP to Trick Your Mind into Action
This one involves Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP). Anything and everything you think about, your brain has coded up with what in NLP we call “submodalities.” How big does it seem to be, how light or dim, moving or still, in a frame or out to the horizon, sound or silent, etc., etc.
So here are the steps to use how your brain naturally codes things up to make it seem more accessible and therefore easier to move into action.
Think of something you need to do but have been procrastinating on.
When you think about this, notice what you imagine – do you imagine how difficult it’s going to be? How long it’s gong to take? How you might fail?
When you focus on the problems your mind magically deletes the good parts: the positives, the potential enjoyment and the ultimate rewards of achieving the goal.
So, let’s fix that!
- Picture that task again and the negative images that, in the past, have stopped you from taking action.
- Mentally push this image away from you, seeing it in front of you and watching it get further and further away, smaller and smaller
- Turn the image black and white
- If the image was like a video, hit the pause button and make it still (this drains the emotion out of any memory, by the way)
- Keep moving the image further and further away until it’s just a dot on the horizon
- New replace this image in your mind with a large, vividly colorful video of you, feeling amazing, easily and joyfully moving through each step of your task ultimately seeing you succeeding and feeling the positive effect this has in your life.
Can you FEEL the difference? How much more do-able, and even exciting and inviting, does that task feel now? Yay! Go do it!
“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney
2. Stop Overthinking and Get in Gear
Sometimes we get stuck in a state of overthinking, and that creates stress.
Did you know that when you are stressed out, the brain actually shrinks in size? That’s probably not helpful, yeah….
Overthinking turns what should be an easy task into one that is overly complicated and presents too many problems, so the mind naturally balks. It is your mind’s primary job to keep you safe, and the potential for too many downfalls is a trigger to move into inaction.
Let’s say you want to replace your car. Overthinking looks and sounds like this:
“OK, first I need to figure out what my current car is worth so I know what my trade in value is and to do that I need to get it cleaned and detailed and waxed but if I do that now then it might rain and get dirty and I’ll have to do that all over again but if I don’t do that then I won’g get as good of a trade in value but I need to do that before I decide what kind of car I can look at and if I go into a dealership they’re going to pressure me to buy something right then but I won’t be ready and I don’t like that feeling so…”
You can feel the overwhelm just reading it, can’t you? And this person hasn’t even decided what kind of car they want yet!
Keep your steps to a minimum by stacking small tasks under one heading:
Goal – Get car cleaned
Goal – Get a trade in value
Goal – Buy a replacement vehicle
Keeping tasks FEELING MANAGEABLE creates motivation
3. Tapping into Your Innovation Resource
AKA moving from a “Problem Orientation” to a “Solutions Orientation.”
This is helpful for when you get stuck moving toward a goal because you’ve run into a barrier or problem that you do not have prior experience in solving. It’s de-motivating when you don’t readily know the solution, and you start to focus on the problem. You become frustrated and may have thoughts like “I don’t know the answer. I should know what to do. I can’t find the way through this.”
This is a pretty common mental block. The solution is to trust your subconscious mind to be creative and innovative — but it won’t be unless you give it the right communication.
Back when I worked for an aerospace company I was on a team working with 4-axis gyros. (Don’t ask! Sheesh.). Anyhow, my senior engineer was a brilliant guy with 30 years of experience but these were tough problems to solve that we were working on. More than once in the year that we were working on these he would say to me, “I’ve tried everything that my training and experience tells me to try to solve this problem. I’m going to go home and tonight, ask my subconscious mind to wake me up with the solution.”
And it worked! More than once I would get into the office at 7 am and Mark was already there, hard at the solution that his brain woke him up at 3:30 in the morning with. And that would in fact be the solution!
The author Joe Vitale says that his mind composes entire books for him and wakes him with the whole thing. He sits down and basically “takes dictation” from his mind. I have actually had this experience myself, and it is amazing!
I like to say, “you know more than you think you do.” We identify with our conscious minds, the thinking part of our minds — but our subconscious mind is always chunking down information and organizing it and it’s well aware of what’s important to you.
Often the solution has already been neatly packaged at the subconscious level but as long as you keep focusing on the problem, that’s what the subconscious thinks you want to do — focus on the problem. Give it the right signals and it will help you find unique solutions.
Here are some ways to step into a solutions-oriented mind set that will trigger your subconscious to help you solve your problem.
- Make a choice to start focusing on the solution. Stop thinking about the problem. Imagine that the problem has already been solved and you are moving forward.
- Start asking solutions oriented questions of yourself. My favorite is “how can I … ?” How can I is a totally different message to your subconscious and asks for creativity and innovation, and importantly, pre-supposes that a solution exists (because it does!).
- Day dream. This allows your mind to focus on the motivation of your goal and moves you further toward your solution.
- Relax. Which is not the same as procrastinate, or put it off. But sometimes a little “intentional procrastination” gives your mind the breathing room to synthesize new ideas and solutions. Be open to answers coming in the form of ah-hah! moments — even at 3:30 in the morning.
Use these ideas to harness the deeper power of your mind to blow past those old stop signs and move into the fast lane of achievement!