Productivity and GTD

Why You Need to Be Able to Motivate Yourself and How You Can Do It

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
"If you hear a voice within you saying 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." ~ Vincent Van Gogh

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The world economy is changing and work as our parents knew it, where you could develop your career in a company for almost a lifetime, is already a thing of the past. Today’s technology is revolutionizing the productivity of businesses and how they work and communicate.

In the year 2020, 40% of Americans will work independently (they will be freelancers or entrepreneurs) and, according to a recent study by the Roosevelt Institute, in the year 2040 we will be immersed in an economy in which temporary jobs and contracts with independent workers for short-term projects will be the usual (it’s called the gig economy).

In an environment where everyone will be completely responsible for their own success, we will have to be capable of managing our own life, defining our job, distributing our energy and acquiring the knowledge and necessary abilities for the next project. Setting goals, making decisions and prioritizing tasks will be fundamental skills in this new economy — if they are not already.

Another fundamental question in this type of environment will be to understand how motivation works and how to motivate oneself. Our personal productivity will depend, to a large extent, on this.

In his book Smarter, faster, better, Charles Duhigg says that it’s important to understand that a prerequisite for motivation is to believe that we have authority over our actions and our environment.

In order to motivate ourselves we must feel that we are in control. When people believe they are in control they are more self-assured, try harder and find it easier to overcome setbacks.

And the fundamental behavior that allows us to believe that we have control is to make decisions. According to the Self-Determination Theory, the freedom to choose gives us the autonomy we need. When a challenging task is presented as a decision we have made, we are much more motivated to carry it out than if it had been come from an external order.

The internal locus of control is the belief that some people have of influencing on their destiny through the decisions they make. On the other hand, the external locus of control is the belief that our life is determined by circumstances beyond our control.

People with a strong internal locus of control perceive both their achievements and failures as a consequence of their knowledge, skills, and effort. They don’t blame any external agent for what happens to them. There are studies that suggest that these people earn more money, have longer relationships and, ultimately, are happier.

The good news is that we can influence the locus of control through specific training. Often, the education we have received or our lived experiences, make us stop trusting how much influence we can have in our own lives. But if we put ourselves in situations where we can feel we have control, we can awaken our internal locus of control and get back in charge.

Apart from control, in order to motivate ourselves we need our decisions to be affirmations of our values and goals. That’s why linking a heavy or difficult task to something more important motivates you to get it done. Ask yourself why you should do specific things and turn tasks into meaningful decisions. By doing so you will find the motivation to carry them out and the authority you need to direct your life.

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