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What really drives your actions? Most people don’t actually know what prompts, guides and sustains their goal-oriented behaviours in every-day life. 

Research shows that extrinsic incentives and seeking external rewards might be the most powerful motivator to encourage individuals to perform certain tasks and actions every day. Understanding what forces are behind your actions can help you better maintain motivation and level-up your productivity to its maximum. 

So, what exactly is the incentive theory of motivation?

According to leading psychologists, most people work harder and stay at higher levels of motivation when they are inspired by external reinforcements. That’s where the incentive theory comes in – one of the primary motivation theories that deals with human behaviour and action. 

Alternatively called the Reward Motivation Theory, this theory provides an explanation for human behaviour that suggests that productive behaviour is promoted by a desire for outside reinforcements or incentives rather than internal desires. Essentially, people are more likely to behave in a certain way if it will bring about a greater chance of an external reward.

A simple example: an employee might work harder due to the incentive of earning a bonus. Their motivation is their desire to receive this reward.

But, keep in mind, there can be negative incentives too. People are generally pulled towards rewarding actions but pushed away from actions that might lead to negative consequences. For example, you might be more motivated to show up to the gym on the days you feel particularly sluggish due to the negative impact it will have on your progress if you don’t.  

So, as you can see, it works both ways. The important thing is to figure out exactly which incentives work for you and how you can use these reinforcements to boost your productivity in your own life.

Motivation 101

How can you use this to your advantage? 

While both positive and negative reinforcement is effective, at WellBe we like to focus on positivity and optimism when fostering strong motivational habits. Below we focus on some great tips and tricks that will help you learn to self-motivate, be more productive and avoid motivational burn-out.

1. Staying motivated at work 

The important thing to remember is that incentives only become powerful if you place personal importance on the reward. That’s why, before setting your mind on any task, it’s important to identify your core values. Determining your unique core values can help you understand what kind of incentive you respond to best.

For example, consider the reward aspects of your desired job. Rewards could be obvious, such as higher pay, praise or professional development. These rewards can also be more subtle – such as being motivated to do work that evokes feelings of pride and achievement, or working hard at a job that makes you feel as if you’re doing meaningful work. 

This is especially important for people who are working from home and whose current motivational levels might be at an all-time low. By drawing on these personal gains, you’ll be more inspired to work hard, achieve more and maintain your focus on your work-related goals instead of getting stuck in the lockdown slump.

2. Staying motivated in your fitness journey 

When it comes to fitness, everybody’s goals tend to vary and can range from a desire to live a healthy life to a strong dedication to achieving a personal fitness objective or sporting goal. Whether it’s trying to reach your fastest time yet or simply staying dedicated to hitting the gym at least twice a week, it’s important to decipher what your major source of external reinforcement might be. 

Keep in mind that not all incentives are created equal. That means that it might take some real reflection on your part to discover what really inspires you to take action and which rewards you find motivating. Once you figure out your primary external reinforcement factors, you’ll truly be able to run further, push harder and unlock your full potential.

3. Staying motivated when maintaining mental health and happiness

While it may seem counterintuitive, a lot of people need to develop real discipline and daily self-motivation habits to take the necessary small steps to achieve their own happiness everyday. 

In this day and age, setting aside time for yourself and personal reflection takes some practice. Step away from the screen, put down your phone and give yourself a chance to breathe. Dedicating just a few minutes a day to completely detaching from the world of work and daily home-life stresses can actually make you more productive in the long run, as well as ensure a more balanced outlook and encourage mindfulness.

So, take the time to go for a run, take a long hot bath, bake some sweet treats in the oven or even try a few sessions of online therapy to get more in touch with yourself and your current stresses at this time. What greater motivational incentive is there than ensuring your own health, happiness and mental stability ?

How to stay motivated with WellBe

We know staying motivated during lockdown can be tricky. With most of us working from home and still self-isolating, it’s hard to keep the enthusiasm levels high and our stress levels low. That’s why we’re here to help. 

At Wellbe, we want to inspire you to be the happiest, healthiest and strongest version of yourself that you can be – no matter what obstacles you face. That’s why we share our top motivational tips, healthy recipes and mindful yoga sessions with our loyal followers on WellB&Co’s Instagram page every day. 

Join our WellBe community and discover our series of helpful blogs and motivational messages to keep you focused on your health and wellness goals. 

Our Wellbe team is here to help you start living a life that is truly Happier. Healthier. Wellthier.

Contact us for more information about our exercise and training advice, wellness plans and better body blueprint program.

Gemma Oberholzer

About Gemma Oberholzer

I guess you can say I'm a serial self-improver. Since I was a kid I can remember being weirdly thrilled at the idea of learning something new and figuring out how to use that new found knowledge to better myself. This perpetual learn-grow itch eventually lead me to the field of Health and Wellness and it's here I've been, fascinated for the last 8 years of my study and work life. From Human Life Scientist and learning the mechanics of physiology and intricacies of metabolic biochemistry, to Food and Nutrition Scientist where I deepened my understanding of diet and it's key role in human performance and health. Geared with this comprehensive education and better appreciation for human health, I've since been able to practically apply this in my career through the fields of research, product development, brand management and marketing. In 2018, I was finally able to bring all these learnings together and so my passion project, WellBe&Co, was born. WellBe&Co is a personal and corporate wellness company specializing in easy-to-implement, lifestyle-focused nutrition, training and health solutions. It's here that I've gained invaluable insights into the human-side of the health and wellness industry in a way that has enabled me to provide relevant content and value-adding services to individuals and companies alike and live out our mission to build communities that know better and grow together through better health.

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