You didn’t get that job you interviewed for, or you’ve failed a couple homework assignments, and now you’re thinking, “Why bother?” Whether it’s a symptom of depression or following a series of let downs, many people struggle with finding motivation. Researchers may have found a simple tool that can help increase feelings of motivation, especially when it’s related to performance.
Whether or not we are consciously aware of it, most of us have a running dialogue going through our minds constantly. Sometimes that dialogue is positive, sometimes it is our harshest critic. In an online study involving over 44,000 volunteers, researchers tested three different types of motivation to measure their impact on performance: imagery, if-then planning, and self-talk. Imagery involved imagining the upcoming scenario, and picturing themselves being successful. If-then planning involved coming up with potential drawbacks and how they would tackle them, for example, “If I start to doubt myself, then I will remind myself I can try again;” and self-talk consisted of changing internal dialogue to phrases such as “I will stay calm” or “I’ll beat my score next time.” Researchers found that changing their self-talk was most impactful not only on performance, but increased the amount of effort put into the task, and improved the overall emotional experience as well.
So what does this mean for you? By making an effort to notice that voice that’s telling you you’ll fail and you shouldn’t even try, you can begin to change its message. You have control over the things you say to yourself. If you start to believe those negative words, imagine saying them to a friend. Would you tell your closest friends the things you tell yourself? Probably not.
You can be your own greatest tool in accomplishing tasks, getting that promotion, or finishing those assignments, it all starts with a positive message you tell yourself each day.
Written by Elise Browne, MS, LAMFT
Lane, Totterdell, MacDonald, Devonport, Friesen, Beedie, Stanley and Nevill. (2016) Brief Online Training Enhances Competitive Performance: Finding of the BBC Lab UK Psychological Skills Intervention Study. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00413/full
Photo credit: pexels.com