Motivation: how to acquire and maintain a scientific guide to motivation?


Motivation is a powerful, but tricky beast. Sometimes it’s easy to get motivated and you find yourself wrapped up in a whirlwind of excitement. Other times, it’s almost impossible to figure out how to motivate yourself and get stuck in a dead spiral of procrastination. This page contains the best ideas and most useful research on how to get and maintain motivation.
It’s not going to be some rah-rah, exciting talk. It’s not my style. Instead, we’ll break the science of how to get momentum first and how to stay motivated in the long run. Whether you’re trying to figure out how to motivate yourself or how to motivate your team, this page should cover everything you need to know.
You can click the link below to jump to a specific section, or scroll down to read everything. At the end of this page, you’ll find a complete list of all the articles I’ve written about motivation.
One, motivation: what is it and how does it work?
What is motivation?
Common misconceptions about motivation.
II. How to get motivated and take action?
Schedule your motivation.
How to get motivated (even if you don’t like it)
How can motivation become a habit?
III. How to maintain long-term motivation?
How to stay motivated with the goldilocks rule?
How to achieve peak motivation?
What to do when the motivation disappears?
One, motivation: what is it and how does it work?
Scientists define motivation as a general willingness to do something. This is a series of psychological forces that force you to take action. That’s good, but I think we can come up with a more useful definition of motivation.
What is motivation?

What, then, is the motive? The author Steven prefield has a very good idea in his book the war of art, which I think is at the heart of the art motive. To paraphrase pressfield, “in a way, the pain is greater than the pain of doing it.”
In other words, at some point, it’s easier to change than to stay the same. It’s easier to take action at the gym and feel insecure than to sit still and experience self-loathing on the couch. It’s easier to be embarrassed when making a sales call than to let your bank account down.
I think that’s the nature of motivation. Every choice has a price, but when we are motivated, the inconvenience of taking action is much easier than maintaining the same pain. Somehow, the psychological threshold that we crossed is usually delayed after a week in the face of an impending deadline, and making it even more painful is not doing the job than actually doing it.
Now there’s an important question: what can we do to make it more likely that we’ll cross that threshold and feel motivated on a consistent basis?
Common misconceptions about motivation.
One of the most surprising things about motivation is that it often happens after new behaviors, not before. We have a common misconception that motivation is passive consumption of motivational video or reading self-help books. However, positive inspiration can be a more powerful motivator.
Motivation is often the result of action, not the cause. Even when used in a very small way, it’s a natural motivator.
I like to call this effect productivity physics, because it’s basically Newton’s first law, used for habit formation: objects in motion tend to keep moving. Once the task starts, moving forward will be easier.
Once you start acting, you don’t need much motivation. Almost all of the task friction is at the beginning. After the start, progress is more natural. In other words, it is often easier to complete a task than to start it first.
Therefore, one of the keys to gaining motivation is to make it easy to start.
Before we start talking about how to get started, let’s pause for a moment. If you like the motivation of this article, then you may find my other article on performance and human behavior useful. Every week I share my self-improvement skills based on mature scientific research through my free email newsletter.


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