Countless books and articles have been written on motivational techniques, and yet the vast majority of them are useless. Either they proclaim things that do not work and have no basis (neither scientific nor logical) or they cite motivational tactics that are not applicable in real life.
And motivation is the most important thing, let’s not kid ourselves. Especially if you’re an entrepreneur, motivation is the fuel to keep going, to climb the slopes, and to persevere when things get ugly or you don’t see results. Something that happens most days.
More than once I have said that the main “game” of entrepreneurship is internal and mental. When the entrepreneur falters, the whole company does. Therefore, today I want to show the 10 motivation techniques that do work in the real world, proven both in studies and in our own experience.
With these 10 motivation techniques we can have that extra fuel to reach our goals. We’ve all felt the power of those days when motivation drove us. Invincible days when we were capable of everything. With enough motivation, you don’t need much more, so let’s start now with what really works and is proven.1. Changing the mindset to apply motivational techniques
One of the main problems with the most common motivation techniques is that almost everything that is taught on the subject is wrong. Therefore, the first motivation technique to apply is to understand how it really works.
The traditional way to explain motivation is this: “You have to be motivated to do something.”
However, it is a fundamental mistake. When motivation is studied seriously, without phrases made that just sound good, it turns out that it works just the other way around.
When you do something, motivation is born.
The usual direction of causality is reversed and the true one is based on another fundamental principle:
When have we really been most motivated to continue? When we didn’t need encouraging phrases? When we’ve had real success at something. When we got that sale, that quote, that achievement. In that moment, our brain has made a connection, liked that feeling and automatically says, “I want more,” really motivating you to get it.
In the real world it doesn’t matter what phrases of encouragement and how good they sound: either we have some real sense of accomplishment or we will end up unmotivated. And that feeling is achieved by doing things and finishing them.
There is an excellent book by James Haden on the subject: The motivation myth. The studies and theory that corroborate all this we are talking about, for those who want to know more, are masterfully deployed in their first 100 pages. But what interests me now is how to put this motivation technique into practice.
The first thing we have to do is stop believing in all those good-sounding fairy tales. Motivators, coaches and so on have grown like mushrooms in the shadow of the word undertake, but they are basically useless. Passion, freedom, great ideas… they repeat these things constantly but all that doesn’t matter without action. This is something that any serious entrepreneur (who does not live by selling smoke to others) checks in his early days.
The second thing is to incentivize action above all else. When we go home with the feeling of accomplishment and accomplished work, we are filled with the true motivation to continue the next day. How do you apply that in practice?2. The ladder of small successes
The ideal to be motivated is to receive reward and external recognition. If we want to be motivated to sell, the most effective thing is to close sales. What happens is that we can’t depend on it because it’s something external out of our control.
We can perform the action of selling, but whether that ends successfully depends on the customer. Thus, we can never have a constant motivation.
So what do we do if we can’t get reliable external motivation? We use internal motivation.
When our brain finishes something and crosses out the task we had pending, it receives a small positive dopamine impulse that makes it want more and want to cross out another. Success finishing one task breeds more motivation to finish another.
To launch this “ladder of small successes” that motivate us we have to:Have a step-by-step plan. If we don’t have it, it’s time to do it with detailed instructions and clear objectives. Without this it is difficult to act and motivate ourselves because we are simply working in an amorphous mess that we do not know how to get our hands on or when it will end. And that demotivates.Divide tasks until they are ridiculously small. This is the basic remedy against procrastination, which is what prevents the action and, therefore, the real motivation, which does not arise if that action does not exist first.Review the successes and what has been achieved so far. Because most of the time we focus on what we still have to do and that causes frustration, because it seems that what needs to be done never ends.
The main recommendation is therefore to divide what we have to do into such small parts, that it is almost impossible not to finish a task in 5 minutes. This way we will take advantage of a first feeling of achievement, of success doing things. That will motivate us to continue down that ascending ladder of small achievements and complete another of the tiny tasks into which we have divided what we have to do.
This tactic to motivate us seems simple and it is, because the complicated, simply, does not work.
By this ladder of small successes we will be able to reach very high in motivation.3. Develop a master’s degree in what we do
Another book I always recommend about motivation and productivity is So good they can’t ignore you by Cal Newport.
There another important point is broken down to understand the motivation techniques that work:
When you start to master something and be good at it, passion and love for that activity arises.
Again, real causality is changed in the minds of the majority. In fact, one of the worst pieces of advice you can give someone is, “Follow your passion.” It turns out that this passion is born of mastery and mastery. Without it, it is impossible to feel motivated.
If we do something, we must strive to be the best. Because here is another truth: “If you are not in this to undertake to be the best, then you better not even try.” Seriously. The market is already saturated with mediocrity that just wants to keep someone’s money and work the bare minimum. We’ve all seen those behind a window who are there just to collect the month’s payroll. Not to add value, or give a service, or that they care about the person who comes to them.
What is the overall level of motivation in those people? Null, because this motivation technique is missing.
If we do not have a commitment to be better, always be aware of the latest developments and be the best experts in our field that we can be, we will surely fail and become demoralized. But if we worry about mastering and becoming experts, here is a prize that many find unexpected: When we acquire mastery in something, the motivation for that something appears.
Here’s a more in-depth explanation of why “following passion” is a disaster and how that mastery leads to motivation.4. To be motivated it is essential to have an autonomy
Autonomy is another key component of personal motivation and productivity. Millionaire studies on the ground such as those of Google prove it and, therefore, in our company we must favor it. But understanding it well.
Autonomy does not mean that everyone does what they want, that does not work and, without limitations and restrictions, we will have the recipe for disaster.
Autonomy means ability to decide within the work that is done.
That is, I can set a goal or commission a project to be carried out on that date, but as long as some basic requirements are met, how it is done is a matter for the team or the person in charge. If that person has no autonomy when it comes to doing something, they will not have the motivation to do it.