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Three Psychological Tricks to Increase Your Motivation at Work (and Pave the Way for a Higher Salary)

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We have all been there. Friday can’t seem to come soon enough, Sunday makes you slightly wistful and Monday hits you with the blues. But if you’re not absolutely hating on your job – and you should consider a switch if it gets to that point –, you might just be suffering from a lack of job motivation.
But you wouldn’t want your lacklustre performance to threaten your chances of a promotion or a salary raise. Take a deep breath, calm yourself down and look towards psychology tips on getting your mojo back:

1. Start by asking yourself one question

Sure, your income helps to address your basic needs of paying for food and a roof over your head. But money isn’t really a main motivator of what we do, says a professor of psychology and behavioural economics at Duke University. Instead, what we’re motivated by is a sense of meaning.

Finding meaning in what you do or in life may sound like generic advice that is also impossible to pinpoint to a specific answer. But Professor Dan Ariely proposes a simple method to get started in his book, Payoff. “If we are feeling bored and unmotivated, we can ask ourselves ‘how is the work I’m doing helping someone down the road?” he writes. “What meaning can I find here? With this type of mindset, chances are that we will be able to find a positive answer.”

After all, money isn’t the only thing that motivates us to act, isn’t it? It’s likely that when you were choosing which jobs to go for, there were other factors aside from the salary offer that you considered. Revisiting what impact your job has on others can serve to lessen the alienation you feel about your daily tasks. Having that purpose can help you be more positive about carrying these duties out.

2. Make visible the fruits of your labour


Aside from knowing the meaning your job holds, seeing what you have accomplished, however small it may be, may be the next step.

In a 2008 experiment conducted by Professor Ariely and researchers from MIT Sloan School of Management and University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business, participants were given Legos to build characters from the Bionicle toy series. They were told that they would earn two dollars for the first Bionicle they built and slightly lesser for each subsequent Bionicle until the participants chose to stop.

The participants were split in two groups. For the first group, the researchers put an assembled Bionicle on the desk once a participant had completed building it. However, for the second group, the researchers disassembled the participants’ toy in front of them once they started working on their next one. This process was repeated so the participants in this group would always see their previous efforts destroyed while they were laboring on their next Bionicle.

The results showed that those in the first group built an average of 10.6 Bionicles and earned an average of $14.40. In comparison, those in the second group, gradually seeing the pointlessness of their labour, built only 7.2 Bionicles on average and earned $11.52.

While this activity of Lego playtime sounds almost frivolous in comparison to your daily grind, the fact that there was difference in the results shows the importance of witnessing the fruits of your labour and the meaning in it. That doesn’t mean leaving work files scattered around. Gestures as small as taking a moment to savour your completed work or ticking tasks off on a list can power you through the rest of your workday. As a start, recognise your accomplishments, inconsequential as they seem to be.

3. Reward yourself with cat videos and more


Don’t beat yourself up for watching animal videos at work. Psychological scientists from Hiroshima University found that looking at cute images could help you focus more and improve your performance on tasks. In their 2012 paper published in PLoS ONE journal, the researchers made participants perform various tasks before and after viewing images of baby or adult animals.

The results showed that participants had improved performances on tasks that required close attention after being exposed to kawaii animal images. If it helps to be more specific in your browsing, those who looked at images of baby animals such as puppies and kittens had 10% more improvement in their performance than those who looked at pictures of adult dogs and cats.

The researchers suggested the positive emotions triggered by cuteness helped participants to focus. But the anticipation of mini-treats like cat videos and their association with work can boost your enthusiasm for your next work task, too.

As you start to work on being more motivated, the small victories and rewards matter. Some cards can assist you in covering the expenses of entertainment after a long work day. For example, the UOB YOLO Card offers relevant privileges such as the purchase of 4 Golden Village movie tickets for the price of 3. Or sing any remaining frustrations out aloud at the KTV with the HSBC Revolution Credit Card, which will help you earn give times the number of rewards points on charges you make at pubs and family KTV venues.

Don’t miss out on our other career- and psychology-related posts:

6 Interesting Hobbies You Can Pick up After Work and Get Your Life Back

10 Ways to Increase Productivity and Shorten Your Work Hours

Don’t Make These 7 Common Mistakes That Can Derail Your Career as a Manager

5 Tips for Dealing with Life When You Don’t Get the Promotion You Were Expecting

Can Money Buy You Happiness?

What Drives You to Buy When You Don’t Intend to Spend? Sales Tricks and Tactics Revealed

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