We have all seen the person – or been the person – who puts more effort into avoiding work (i.e. procrastination) than it takes to simply accomplish a task… not to mention the stress this puts on your body and your relationships. Proverbs 12:24 says, “The hand of the diligent will rule (meaning either to reign or simply to gain mastery over), while the slothful will be put to forced labor.” The bottom line is that you end up laboring anyway, so why not honestly apply yourself and gain the benefits rather than becoming a slave to your work. If you are struggling with procrastination, listening to your thoughts may help you find the real culprit as to why your To-Do List runs you and not the other way around…
Are you telling yourself that you are tired when it may be laziness and/or a lack of motivation? Are you really that tired? In other words, if someone offered you a million bucks to accomplish the thing you keep putting off, would you somehow find the energy? This is not to say that exhaustion isn’t real but consider that sluggishness and lethargy from a lack of motivation often masquerades as fatigue. The truth is God has your design rigged to benefit you when you work. As it turns out, NOT working towards a goal is the motivation killer that leads to laziness.
Here’s how it works… each time you accomplish something, your brain is masterfully designed to release feel-good neurotransmitters such as dopamine and other endorphins. Dopamine in particular is an important part of the brain’s complex motivation/reward system because it affects the pleasure center (or nucleus accumbins). So when you feel good about accomplishing something, it is actually dopamine flooding your brain that drives your desire to repeat the experience. This is why neuroscience often describes dopamine as a “lollypop” to the brain. The more difficult the task, the bigger the lollypop. Eventually, even the anticipation of finishing a project is reward enough to cause your brain to release dopamine which helps you reach your goal. When you stop – the motivation cycle stops too.
Finishing even the smallest project will give you the inspiration and motivation to dive into the next one. But here’s the key: Don’t move on to the next task too quickly. Rather, take a moment to be grateful for the work and assess the accomplishment so that your brain has time for its lollypop which in turn naturally motivates you to seek that wonderful feeling of accomplishment again. So dive in and get going on that project you’ve been putting off – but don’t forget to celebrate the little steps along the way. Oh, and while you’re at it, spread the joy by helping others celebrate their accomplishments too. We could all use a few more lollypops!
(Part 2 of this post will discuss ideas to help your kids become self-motivated rather than parent motivated)
Question: What project (big or small) did you accomplished recently that gave you that feeling of accomplishment?