Motivation is the key to success for many aspiring entrepreneurs.
It's one thing to enjoy the idea of something, but actually achieving your goals takes a reservoir of motivation. Whether you're an entrepreneur, small business owner, or someone looking for quality employment, you need a deep sense of drive to fuel your pursuit.
While there are many excellent articles about motivation available, few incorporate neuroscience into their discussion. Understanding the neurological mechanisms that are implicated in motivated states can help us unlock keys to maintaining high levels of determination.
A 2008 study utilizing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) found surprising results when they scanned the brains of participants during a goal-directed reaction time task.
The research article, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, found that the area of the brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex integrates and transmits representations of rewards to the mesolimbic and mesocortical dopamine systems, which initiate motivated behavior.
The best way to increase motivation is to anticipate a reward.
When you're overwhelmed with work and can't see the end-game, think about the completion of the task.
Contemplating the completion of a major project sets off a chain reaction in your brain that provides you with several benefits:
1. Anticipating a reward increases dopamine.
While you may have learned that dopamine is a neurotransmitter that results in pleasure, you might not know that it's also involved in behavior.
Scientific research has found that spikes in dopamine help regulate levels of motivation, which leads individuals to initiate and persevere to avoid something negative or obtain something positive.
2. Anticipating a reward initiates motivation.
One of the strongest motivators is the anticipation of the reward in and of itself.
The reason so many sport psychologists utilize visualization exercises for their athletes is because it not only primes their brains to perform at a high level, it also sparks motivation.
If you're running a race, just seeing the finish line can give you a little boost to push through the pain and achieve your goals.
3. Anticipating a reward leads to motivated behavior.
Motivation transforms goals into actions.
If you have motivation, you will find yourself working towards your goals because the two are inseparable. If you are unmotivated, chances are, you'll be crawling forward like a turtle. The reason visualizing a reward is so powerful is because that alone will help you translate a thought or image into physical action.
Use your brain.
Visualize the completion of a project to create motivation and take actions that will lead to it's conclusion. Anticipating a reward activates a part of your brain that then communicates with deeper regions that control the release of dopamine, which initiates motivated behavior.
The more you integrate this simple step into your life, the more you can sustain and increase your level of motivation.