Some days, it's really hard to get motivated to do all the tasks we need to do in a day. This can be because we feel tired, overwhelmed or we just don't feel like it. Another possibility is that we've set up bad habits over a period of time, and these can be hard to break. There have been decades of scientific research into the motivation behind human and animal behaviour, and it all comes down to a very simple concept.
We are motivated to take action when there is reward attached to it.
This is the result of a biological process that occurs in both humans and animals. There is a naturally-produced chemical in our body called dopamine which is often referred to as the ‘feel good’ chemical, as it is released when we achieve or attain something and that makes us ‘feel good’. This explains why we feel good when we buy something new, receive a gift or if our work is praised – it is actually a chemical reaction in our brains.
However, dopamine does much more than make us feel good. Recent studies have shown that dopamine acts in the brain before we make our move, and is responsible for motivating us to act - either to attain something we want, or to avoid pain or danger.
It is actually easier than you might think. Dopamine is made in our bodies using the amino acids from proteins, tyrosine, phenylalanine, along with vitamin B6. In a balanced diet, we receive these nutrients every day, but if the diet is not providing enough of these, then supplementation can help.
We can also help to generate dopamine in our brains by setting up small rewards when we approach a task. Any task can be broken down into small parts or goals, and each time you achieve a small goal, dopamine will be generated which will motivate you to continue. This can be as simple as deciding to spend just 10 minutes on a task, whether it's a household task or a work project. Let's face it, that is an achievable goal. You'll likely find that at the end of those 10 minutes and having achieved your goal, that you will feel more motivated to continue the task further.
It makes sense to break larger tasks or projects down into smaller goals and actually write these down so that you can cross them off when they are done. You can then see your progress and that will generate dopamine to make you feel good.