How to Get Motivated and Stay Motivated

How to Get Motivated and Stay Motivated

There are tons of videos out  there teaching tips and tricks   and rah rah motivation, but in this video  I'm going to teach you how your brain works   so you can understand the principle behind how to  get motivated and how to stay motivated. You're   going to learn how dopamine, the neurotransmitter  of reward and pleasure and motivation works in   your brain and four simple things that you  can do to get motivated and stay that way.   I've got this friend in my neighborhood and  he's a super high achieving high school student,   he gets straight A's, he's taking a  handful of college classes in high school   and he's an amazing musician

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You know the type  right? Well, he's been telling me lately that he's   struggling to finish his application to his dream  university. I mean he's gonna get in if he applies   but he's having a hard time getting it written. So  what's the deal with that? I mean it's so out of   character, so it got me thinking, have you noticed  how during the pandemic people are less motivated.   I mean, I feel less motivated, it can be hard to  get moving and it's weird because people have   more time on their hands than ever but they're  getting less and less done and that's not because   they have changed, like it's not like their genetic  makeup has magically changed or anything, but   it's because of how dopamine works in the brain.  Dopamine is the neurotransmitter the chemical in   your brain that's associated with feeling rewarded  or motivated

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It helps us strive, it helps us feel   focused and it helps us find things interesting, it  has to do with how we feel pleasure when we have   sex or when we eat ice cream and it also motivates  us to work hard, to earn money, to eat ice cream.   Now dopamine is associated with sticking with  something until it rewards you. So for example,   casinos take advantage of the dopamine response  in our brain by randomly rewarding meaningless   behavior, like putting coins into a slot and when  you do get a win, it dumps a ton of dopamine into   your brain, which feels amazing and that dopamine  reward motivates you to keep doing it

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So the   same thing goes with fishing right, like just  one more cast, that's going to be the lucky one   or metal detecting, just one more signal, that could  be where gold is right and on a random side note,   people who take artificial dopamine medication,  like l-dopa, for a disease like Parkinson's   they have sometimes developed terrible gambling  addictions when before they took the meds they   never had a problem with gambling. So dopamine  creates a reward that motivates a behavior like   gambling or fishing or working being motivated.  So basically here's how the dopamine cycle works.   You take action, then you get a reward and  then you have motivation to take more action,   but here's where people get stuck, they think you  need to feel motivated first to take some action   as in 'I don't feel like writing so I'm  not going to start until I feel motivated'   or 'I'll just watch youtube videos  until I feel like exercising'   'and then when that magical bolt of motivation  hits that's when I'll be productive'.   and sometimes that works right, sometimes you  feel motivated first and then you take action,   but that's not how motivation works in the long  run and this is why so many people, my friend   included, are having a hard time getting motivated  during the pandemic, because motivation levels drop   when you do less things

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So because we're not  leaving the house for work, we're less motivated   because we don't have scheduled activities with  our friends, we're less motivated. The less you   do, the less motivated you feel. So this is the  trap that many people get stuck in, they wait to   get motivated before they do something. I think a  lot of times we might look at someone who's super   motivated, like for example my in-laws. They are  both super high achievers, they get up early, they   exercise, my father-in-law goes and works at the  hospital for long hours, he comes home and then he   reads a bunch of books and he serves in his church  and he does all these things my mother-in-law is   an artist and a writer and she's serving and she's  teaching youth groups and she's doing all these   things right and you might look at someone who's  super motivated and assume well, they just feel   like getting up at 5am and exercising, they must  just have that one magical gift of a gene that   makes them feel this way, but that's actually, most  likely, not how it works

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Doing something is how you   get motivated, motivation and dopamine come AFTER  taking action and this is just hardwired into our   brain. So just imagine our ancient ancestors out  foraging for food and coming across an unknown   berry. Maybe they decided to eat it and it turns  out it was delicious and nourishing. That little   kick of excitement comes in after eating and  absorbing the berry and then that's going to   motivate them to find the next berry patch. If on  the other hand the berry makes them puke then they   don't have the motivation next time to eat that  berry or to work for it. But imagine this scenario:   What if the motivation to eat everything came  before trying the berry, then they'd be motivated   to eat all kinds of dangerous foods. So motivation  comes after action not before it. Now one of the   things that many emotionally unhealthy people have  in common is putting a lot of energy into trying   to change how they feel

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So this is generally a  massive waste of energy people struggle against   feeling sad or they wait until they feel motivated  to act or they avoid things that make them anxious   and you know what they get? They get more  sad, less motivated and more anxious.   Stop putting your energy into trying  to change your emotions directly.   We're most likely to change emotions by changing  how we act and changing how we think. Nick Wignal   says "Anyone can feel motivated from time to  time, but highly motivated people build routines   and habits into their lives that generate  motivation consistently." You can build up   a chronic cycle of demotivation or a chronic  cycle of motivation and it really comes down   to one small thing that you do and that's going  to determine whether you stay motivated or not.   Let me give you one more example of that cycle  and then we're going to jump into specifics of   how to get motivated and how to stay motivated

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So  one of the big aspects of depression is having a   hard time getting motivated, it's feeling low  energy and feeling little to no pleasure in   the things you used to enjoy. So it's easy to  see how that motivation-reward-dopamine cycle   is broken and it's hard to know what came first,  the chicken or the egg here but a common style   of self-talk with depression is someone dismisses  any praise that they get or when they do something   well, they talk down to themselves they say 'oh it's  no big deal' or 'so and so could have done it better'   or they say 'oh I'm such a loser' and you just  minimize your accomplishments, you maybe turn down   compliments and by doing that you're basically  crushing that sense of reward

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Then the next day   you feel less motivated and it's harder to get out  of bed and that cycle continues. So that negative   self-talk interrupts any rewarding feeling  that you may get from taking action and then   this stops the dopamine from flowing and then  that's going to decrease motivation the next time.   So this is why changing your self-talk can be  really helpful with depression but it's also why   medication can be a good option for depression  because it can help you get moving, get started   and then once you get started that can help  you keep moving. So the way to stay motivated   is all about reinforcing that motivating cycle  to keep that dopamine flowing. So how we reward   ourselves for tasks determines in the long run  whether we build or decrease motivation over time   and it all starts with building small, regular  habits which really just starts with choosing   one small thing to act on right? Action leads  to reward, leads to motivation, leads to action.   So the way to get motivated isn't to wait until  you feel motivated but rather to take some action   first and then highlight the reward it has for  you

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First choose one small thing to start with   and then try to do it. I know this can sound hard  but just pick something like making your bed   and then after you've done that take a second to  congratulate yourself for how nice it looks and   then give yourself a moment to bask in that tiny  pleasure. Now if you can't get yourself to start a   big task that you're avoiding, you can start by  moving in the smallest possible way. I asked my   mother-in-law about this and she says when she has  a task that she doesn't really want to do like um   scrubbing the floor she'll make a little chart and  it's like okay do three minutes of something you   enjoy and then three minutes of something that's  hard and then three minutes of something you enjoy   and then three minutes of something that's hard  and that's how she gets things done throughout   the day, she rewards herself by um you know getting  to work on her art or getting to work on her novel   in between you know scrubbing the floor or  whatever task it is

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So some examples of things   you could do that just get you moving are things  like going for a five minute walk without a phone   or drinking a tall glass of water. Anything that  gets you moving can start that dopamine cycle and   then after you've done that, just reinforce that  reward just give yourself a little bit of credit   for doing that. Another thing that's important  is just like don't work in bed, don't lay   down, research shows that for people who  stay in bed their motivation decreases.   So just little things like getting out of bed  or getting dressed and then telling yourself   'hey good job, you did it!' like that's enough to  get that motivation dopamine reward cycle going.   Getting started can be the hardest part,  so you could set a timer and do that task for   x long so, you know I'll just write for  five minutes and then I can quit if I want.   Then when you've completed the task just  make sure to give yourself some credit   reward yourself with some praise or checking an  item off your list and that's going to reinforce   your wins

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This is how you build lasting intrinsic  motivation, you sit and you bask in how good it   feels. So you found this video, you're watching a  video on how to get motivated instead of a cat   video, and cat videos are okay sometimes, but you're  working to improve yourself. So good work! Give   yourself some credit right now. When you build one  new habit at a time, the habits make it easier and   easier to take action the next time. Now let's talk  about rewards for a minute. How you reward yourself   matters. If you want to have lasting motivation,  you really need to build up intrinsic rewards.   It's okay to give yourself a piece of chocolate  once in a while or treat yourself to something,   but in the long run, what you really want to  be building, is that internal sense of pride   that comes from accomplishing something you really  care about

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A lot of people are unmotivated because   they've gotten trapped into unlasting forms  of reward, external rewards. So these are things   like people pleasing or praise or money and so  what I'm going to recommend is that instead of   chasing these temporary highs, build a lasting  motivation cycle by chasing your own goals, find   your own reasons, your inner passions, beliefs and  values, your intrinsic rewards and you can start   doing that by asking yourself 'what do you really  care about?'

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My husband recently told me a story   about three stone cutters, so a man goes into a  quarry and sees three different stone cutters   they're cutting stone and he asked the first  one you know 'what are you doing?' and he says 'oh   I'm cutting stone' and the man says 'well, why are  you doing that?' and he says 'oh for a pence a day'.   The second stone cutter he goes up to him  and he says 'what are you doing?' he says 'I'm   cutting stone' and he says 'why are you doing  that?' and he says 'oh, to put food on the table'.  and the third stone cutter that he goes up to he  says 'what are you doing?' he says 'I'm cutting stone'   he says 'why are you doing that?' and he  says 'I'm building a temple to my god   and it's going to be the most beautiful temple  ever.' It's easy to see how these three men doing   the exact same task had different motivations for  what they were doing and you can develop your own   intrinsic sense of motivation even about the  tasks you don't like

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So imagine two different   scenarios for getting the bathroom cleaned. The  first form of motivation is like this 'ugh, I hate   it if I have a guest come over and the bathroom is  messy, ugh I guess I'll try to clean the bathroom'   or number two 'ew the bathroom is gross, I hate  worrying about, it it'll feel so nice when it's all   clean

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It'll smell nice, my husband will be so happy  that it's taken care of so that we don't have to   do it on the weekend and we can go do something  fun. It's gonna feel so good when it's cleaned.'   The second form of motivation still accomplishes  the same task but the way it does it   is through thinking about the good feelings  and the intrinsic rewards that are going to come   from cleaning the bathroom. There's a lot of ways  to strengthen that internal sense of fulfillment   and motivation. Building lasting motivation  is all about bringing to mind over and over   what is most important to you, what matters to  you the most. So the first way to build intrinsic   motivation is to really ask yourself 'what do you  want to be doing with your life?'. So take a moment   to write down your values

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What do you want to be  doing with your one, wild and precious life? Another   way to build intrinsic motivation is to track your  accomplishments. You can use a to-do list and check   off the items, that's a way to reinforce that win,  you can track your routines on paper right like   I do a 30-day chart where I mark off the days that  I, you know, complete my habit. Another thing you   can do is do a calendar with a big red marker, just  like fill in that whole square of the day when you   accomplish whatever your goal was and basically  these are all different ways of just reinforcing   that sense of accomplishment

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Another thing you  can do is reward yourself before the task. So I   asked my mother-in-law how is she so motivated to  do so many things and she says she just imagines   what it'll feel like when it's done. So imagine how  you're going to feel when you do complete a task.   Visualizing how good it's going to feel  when you're done strengthens that sense   of accomplishment and motivation and basically  that just builds neural pathways that reinforce   that positive behavior. Okay, stop rewarding  bad behavior. Many people are unmotivated   because they accidentally reward bad behavior  like procrastinating. So if you do something   fun while you're procrastinating, like gaming or  watching a show, you're actually rewarding yourself   for procrastinating you're turning on that  reward cycle for not taking action

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So instead   don't reward yourself for bad behavior. If you're  procrastinating, turn off your phone or your tv   because boredom can be really uncomfortable  and that can be a really good motivator. So you   don't have to like if you're having a hard time  getting started you don't have to start right away   but just turn off your rewards that are keeping  you from starting and then you can still watch   a show or play a game just use it as a reward  for doing that something that you want to do.   Okay another really important thing to foster that  motivation, to foster that motivation cycle that   keeps building on itself is to stop the negative  self-talk, stop beating yourself up when you fail   it doesn't work in the long run because if  you think you're going to get punished then   over time your motivation decreases a little  bit each time

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Research shows that punishment   is a very short-term source of motivation and  in the long run leads to people being very   demotivated. So there is no magical fix that's  gonna make you motivated all the time, but you   can build up a consistent cycle of motivation  little by little, gradually, and this is the way   that your brain learns these dopamine pathways  right, this builds sustainable motivation. So don't   wait to take action until you feel motivated,  get yourself to take small steps first and then   take the time to sit with that feeling of  accomplishment

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Don't use fear or self-punishment   as a way to get things done and find your internal  sense of fulfillment to build that lasting and   self-sustaining reward cycle. I hope you found  this video helpful. Thank you so much for watching   and take care. This video is sponsored by Better  Help, where you can get professional, affordable,   licensed counseling from the comfort of your  own home starting at around $65 dollars a week   if you'd like to learn more please check out the  link in the description for 20% off

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