Power up your motivation to get unstuck and get work done with your own theme song.
When I talk with people about procrastination, and what gets in the way of them getting work accomplished, one of the reasons people give is a lack of motivation. They don’t tackle something because they just don’t feel like it.
When you just don’t feel like it, even a small chunk of work can seem as daunting as tackling Mount Everest.
Threatening yourself may work, but sometimes even cracking the whip does not.
There are reasons that cracking the whip over yourself (or another) is not the most effective strategy for getting work done.
Using Fear to Motivate Makes Work More Difficult
The first reason is that fear constricts energy. It also creates stress, which over time, decreases your brain’s ability to function effectively.
So, if you are using fear to try to motivate yourself to accomplish something, you could be making the task even more difficult.
Another reason is that because of conditioning, when you use negative motivation over and over, you create a negative connection related to that task or set of tasks in your brain.
What is conditioning?
If you saw the movie, Seabiscuit, you might remember that early on the horse is hesitating instead of breaking out of the starting gate. Because of the hesitation, Seabiscuit was already behind when he started a race.
The trainer decides to make use of conditioning to change the horse’s behavior. He tells the jockey to brush the horse’s flank at the exact instant when the starting bell rings.
Horses have an instinctual response to jump when being unexpectedly touched on the flank. It is a survival mechanism, in which the horse’s brain assumes that touch on the flank signals a predator.
Over and over during workouts, the jockey linked the brush on the flank to the ringing of the starting bell, until the two become connected for the horse.
So, in the next race, Seabiscuit leaps out of the gate when he hears the starting bell.
I realize you are not a horse, but you also have conditioned instincts and responses. Some of them help you and others hinder you.
The good news is that you can deliberately create your own conditioned responses to motivate yourself by using one of your brain’s operating principles: Repetition Required.
Repetition is a key part of your brain’s learning process. When you are learning something new, your brain is actually building new physical connections between neurons. Repetition grows and strengthens the connections in your brain.
Sometimes it takes multiple repetitions to build those connections. Each time you repeat, it helps to strengthen the connections, so that after numerous repetitions, what was once difficult becomes easy.
You may not know it, but you already use repetition and conditioning. Is there a smell or food that evokes memories? A certain song that puts a smile on your face?
Those are conditioned responses, created through repetition, and made even more powerful when they are linked to an emotion.
Whistle While You Work
Walt Disney showed kids how to get motivated to get their work done in the movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Just whistle while you work.
With a theme song, you too can use the power of conditioning to feel happy, motivated, energetic, or confident whenever you want.
To use this action tool, pick a song that is (or will be) your conditioning stimulus. Make sure the song has a melody you can sing or hum, and words that have special meaning for you.
If you already have a song that makes you feel this way, you’re ahead of the game!
If you don’t already have a theme song, you can build one by singing or humming the song (or singing along) at least three times a day. While you are singing or humming, think good thoughts. Think about what makes you feel happy, confident, successful, joyful, powerful, optimistic, grateful, and so on.
After a short time of practicing this conditioning, you will be able to trigger those powerful feelings just by singing or humming your theme song.
Ready, set, sing!
Want more tips for getting motivated and getting work done? I’m sharing my six favorite tools for breaking through procrastination, overwhelm, and time poverty in my new FREE guide: “Get Unstuck, Get It Done.” You can download it HERE.