• Samit Ahmed and Harris Siddiqui

A Year Inside: How to Remain Motivated in our Current Times

What is Motivation?


As the first month of the new year ends, many of us may be feeling unmotivated or lazy. For many people, motivation is an elusive spur-of-the-moment feeling: a rush that hits at the beginning of the year, and then peters out day by day dragging us back into our old habits a few mere months into the new year. While it is hard to remain motivated as we are just beginning the 2nd year of quarantine, it is simultaneously the best time to learn something new to better ourselves.

How Can You Boost Motivation?


The goal of motivation is to boost your willpower to do an activity you’d rather not do. There is still debate about whether willpower is finite or not, but it was found that those who believe willpower to be finite were more likely to give up than those who believed the opposite. To focus on boosting motivation is like chasing a mirage; even if it does turn out to work, it will most likely leave as quickly as it came. Although we may be limited in boosting our motivation, there are numerous things we can do to boost our willpower:


1. Eliminate or reduce distractions that may cause you to stray from your goals.


If your goal is to lose weight, make your life and your goals easy for yourself by making it as hard as possible to reach processed sugary foods. Better yet--don’t order them.

Going with the approach that willpower is finite, take the example of someone dieting with a freshly-baked cake in front of them. While the amount of willpower may vary from person to person, it is a bad approach to keep on resisting temptations right in front of you as it can strain your willpower, making you unable to spend it on other activities. The more steps you have to undergo to get a treat, the more unlikely it is that you will engage in it. This is because making something harder to reach denies instant gratification, a brief feeling of enjoyment associated usually with sweets and junk food. All of this is why it would be best to put it out of reach or reduce its access; however, by far, the best would be to out-right eliminate it.


2. Give yourself a reward in a manner which ideally does not contradict with your goals within the first two weeks.


If your goal is to study an hour longer, try not to break it during the first couple weeks.This is especially true in dieting as both your body and mind are getting used to a new diet.


Giving yourself a reward allows for encouragement and a reminder on how far you’ve come; however, if done improperly, it can cause harm. Avoid excessive rewards, and reward yourself in a manner that doesn’t contradict your goals too heavily. Going on a ‘cheat week,’ after being on a diet for only two weeks is an excessive reward and can lead you back to your old ways. It is important to realize that anybody can be motivated, but maintaining that motivation for a much longer period of time requires grit and self-discipline. Remember how much progress you’ve made--you’ve already accomplished the hardest step getting past the first two weeks!


Conclusion

Motivation is an emotion which boosts the frequency of willpower. Numerous methods exist to increase willpower, and whether you try one or both it is up to you, but remember that something is always better than nothing. The essence of our motivation starts internally and it is the consistent manner in which we go about our goals. Whether that means to break down your goals tailored to suit your attention span or subdue the procrastination, it is okay to reward yourself. It is better to try than not to try. Only when we do not try does something become impossible to achieve.




Study:

Lurquin, John H., Laura E. Michaelson, Jane E. Barker, Daniel E. Gustavson, Claudia C. Von Bastian, Nicholas P. Carruth, and Akira Miyake. No Evidence of the Ego-Depletion Effect across Task Characteristics and Individual Differences: A Pre-Registered Study. 10 Feb. 2016. Web. 29 Jan. 2021.


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