How to Get Motivated

Motivation is literally the desire to do things. It's the difference between waking up before dawn to pound the pavement and lazing around the house all day. It's the crucial element in setting and attaining goals—and research shows you can influence your own levels of motivation and self-control. So figure out what you want, power through the pain period, and start being who you want to be.

Recent Posts on Motivation

WOSPs, the Amalfi Coast, and Unstructured Play in Children

By John Tauer Ph.D. on August 02, 2015 in Goal Posts
Why Can't Kids Play on Their Own?

We Pay Adults To Work, So Why Not Pay Kids To Learn?

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on August 02, 2015 in Ambigamy
It's crazy: We expect children to be motivated by abstract arguments that wouldn't motivate adults, even though children are much worse at abstraction.

Getting Lost in the Noise

By Alex Korb Ph.D. on July 31, 2015 in PreFrontal Nudity
When trying to accomplish something great, if you check in too often with your progress, then you can be getting in your own way. I had to learn this the hard way, but, fortunately, there is a way out.

I Used to Be Such a Good Teacher...

Delivering a lecture is easy. Teaching is hard.

Improving Self-Control by Enhancing Working Memory

Successful self-control involves the active maintenance of goals and goal-relevant information in working memory.

Earth to Humans: Why Have You Forsaken Me? Sunk Costs

By Kenneth Worthy Ph.D. on July 25, 2015 in The Green Mind
What are the psychological roadblocks that explain why we’re not doing much to solve global climate change—a phenomenon that threatens the core of our society? This is the fourth post in a seven-part series.

Stories of Seclusion: An Immigrant Shocked at Her Workplace

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on July 25, 2015 in How To Do Life
How a too laid-back workplace drove a woman into isolation.

It’s Time For Our Culture Of Overwork To Be Over

By Tim Leberecht on July 24, 2015 in The Romance of Work
We may talk a good game about how we want to achieve the ever-elusive work/life balance—but what do we do about it? How many of us approach it with the kind of profound urgency that marks the conundrums we attempt to solve at work? I had the chance recently to sit down with Brigid Schulte, author of "Overwhelmed: How to Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time."

Why the Self-Absorbed Are Successful

Two characteristics help self-absorbed people to be successful: a continual focus on personal goals, and a lack of concern for the impact of what they do and say on others.

I May Be a Jackass, But I Can Be Taught to Care

A jackass is an ornery animal. You can lead it to water, but you can't make it drink. Are kids the same way?

The ‘Magic Potion’ of Team Chemistry

By Chester S Spell Ph.D. on July 21, 2015 in Team Spirit
Different mixes for different teams? Research suggests that what’s good for chemistry in management teams might not be true for teams in other types of work.

Why "Making Learning Fun" Fails

What happens if we teach children that learning is supposed to be fun?

What Do You Need to Thrive?

In 1954, psychologist Abraham Maslow created the famous “hierarchy of needs.” The role of the self is front and center in Maslow’s model and goes hand in hand with other leading theories in psychology that emphasize the individual. The focus is primarily on the self, not the social. Maslow’s step-by-step model misses the mark...

The Secret Reason So Many of Us Procrastinate

There’s no way of telling just how common this form of procrastination is. But given the phenomenon of psychological reactance, it’s safe to say that at some point you’ve probably been guilty of it yourself. That is, of delaying something which not only would be good for you to do but which you actually want to do. . . .

The Best Strategy For Getting Motivated

By Susan Albers Psy.D. on July 15, 2015 in Comfort Cravings
This month I've been focusing on motivation tips and getting to the bottom of what helps people to move out of their old ruts and start eating healthier and more mindfully today. Find out here!

3 Kinds of Motivation for Addiction Recovery

How can you know you have left "no stone unturned" in trying to help someone you care about who suffers from addiction to alcohol, drugs or some destructive behavior?

Rich Roll’s Extreme Flow

By Michael Friedman Ph.D. on July 15, 2015 in Brick by Brick
Rich Roll, an ultra-endurance athlete, shares how we do not need to do "everything in moderation" in order to have balanced life. In fact, for many of us, the balance is in the “extreme.

A Life Interrupted: The Tim Bransfield Story

In the summer of 2002, Tim Bransfield had it all. Then Tim crashed his mother’s car head-on into a tree at eighty miles per hour, and, as he says in his book, “everything went dark.”

Does Human Nature Make Genocide Inevitable?

I just appeared in a BBC debate about whether future genocide is inevitable. I said that it wasn't, especially if we utilize knowledge about human nature. Here's why I'm so optimistic about our evolved psychology and potential for peace.

Sentence Completion: A Way to Measure Motivation?

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on July 14, 2015 in A Sideways View
There are many different forms of projective techniques, which are attempts to assess a person's unconscious wishes and desires

Cheerful to a Fault

By Alfie Kohn on July 13, 2015 in The Homework Myth
Is happiness really what we want most for our kids? Should we question "higher expectations" as a slogan for school reform? Is it time to rethink responses like "Good job!" and "Ooh, you're so close!"?

The Authentic Life of Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels

By Michael Friedman Ph.D. on July 10, 2015 in Brick by Brick
Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels is part of arguably the greatest rap group of all time, Run-D.M.C, and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. After facing many hardships in his adult life, he shares how he was able to cope by reconnecting with his creative side.

Shame and Depression

Low on energy = low on activity. That is a sure fire path to feeling blue. How does a person deal with what seems like an inevitable failure of motivation and activity?

Expecting to Be Wealthy, Famous and Happy Too? Think Again!

By Sandeep Gautam on July 07, 2015 in The Fundamental Four
Research shows that striving for extrinsic goals, like wealth and fame, comes with a big downside in terms of diminished positive mental health and curtailed happiness.

Fraudulent Draft Day Fantasies

The lights of the NHL shine bright on draft night and they can easily blind optimal motivation. Sometimes dreams can be so vivid and so emotionally sustaining they leave an individual neglecting to attend to important initiatives and hurdles during the journey.

4 Self-Portraits That Make Us Self-Conscious

We all worry where we stand with others. These four self-portraits, and the gaps between them, provide a map of your self-conscious thoughts.

Soccer Star Carli Lloyd on How to Kick Criticism to the Curb

As the World Cup began, American soccer's Carli Lloyd faced stunning criticism from a former coach. Her response can teach us all how to keep destructive criticism from knocking us off our feet.

Play Makes Children Smart, Happy and Prepared for the Future

This blog is about the myriad benefits of play for children. Too much cerebral focus and too little spontaneous thought can be damaging for creativity, intellect and overall wellbeing.

Motivation in Education, Therapy, and Parenting

Vengeful parental fantasies often take the form of protecting the child from invented or exaggerated external threats.

Wanting to Feel Good, Familiar or Useful?

But what about familar emotions? Do people like, and seek out, familiar emotions more than unfamilar ones? Or, do people merely seek out emotions that feel good?