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How To Get And Stay Motivated
There are plenty of articles, books and blog posts on motivation that tell you how to become more motivated. Often, they give tips like „getting more sleep? and „introducing new habits slowly?.
These ideas are all useful to an extent but they ultimately fall short. If you struggle with motivation and can?t keep yourself focused on new tasks, then a tip like this isn?t going to transform your ability to focus overnight.
And if you struggle to motivate yourself, how are you expected to keep up the changes that lead to greater motivation? It?s something of a vicious circle don?t you think?
If you really want to see changes, then you need to look a little deeper. You need to focus on the actual neuroscience that underpins our ability to get and stay motivated. In this report, you?ll learn exactly how motivation actually works on a biologically level and more importantly, you?ll discover how you can manipulate that process to your own ends…
Introducing the Salience Network
What we?re interested in here is what neuroscientists and psychologists refer to as „attentional control? or „executive attention?. This describes the ability we have to direct our attention and hold it – the control we have over what we choose to focus on and what we choose to ignore.
So how does this work? It comes down to several frontal regions within the brain that control this function. Perhaps most notable is the anterior cingulate cortex which has been the result of a fair amount of research.
In fact though, attention is controlled by two separate networks of brain regions in the brain: areas that work together in order to get the desired result. Specifically, these networks are referred to as the „dorsal attention network? which includes brain regions that run along the top of the brain (dorsal means „top? in biology – hence „dorsal fin?) and the „ventral attention network? (which runs along the bottom).
Understanding these two different attention networks is key because they have different purposes that clue us in on how to get superior attention. The dorsal attention network is concerned with our intentional attention (bit of a tongue twister). In other words, when you decide that you want to focus on a book for a while, or you choose to check the time, you are using the dorsal network.
The ventral attention network meanwhile is used when our attention is directed beyond our control in a reflexive manner. In other words, when you hear a loud bang and you turn to look at it, that is your ventral attention network.
But your ventral attention network can also be distracted by a range of other biological clues. If you are hungry for instance, then your ventral attention network will begin to direct your attention toward getting food and if you are tired, then your ventral attention network will direct your attention that way.
So, if you?re trying to get work done and things keep stealing your attention away, then it is going to be hard for you to maintain your attention!
The next question we need to ask is how the brain knows what to pay attention to. The answer comes down to yet another neural network called the „salience network?. This network tells us what is important and what isn?t and it appears to be very closely connected to our ability to motivate ourselves.
In other words, those with the ability to tell their brain what is really important will be able to stay focussed on work, they?ll be able to run longer distances and they?re be able to stay intensely focussed during competition.
But if you weren?t born with a powerful salience network, then what can you do to fix the situation?
Taking Back Control
How does the salience network work? What does it deem as important?
The answer comes down to our evolutionary history. Every aspect of our psychology evolved the way it did in order to help us survive. Traits that proved conducive to our long-term survival would be passed on to our offspring and those that did not, would eventually die out.
Thus, the job of this network is to alert us to things that are important for our survival – which is based on biological signals from the body and our associations. If you see a lion, then your salience network will identify this as important, it will trigger the ventral attention network and this will direct your attention there.
The result will be that your parasympathetic nervous system kicks in and triggers a hormonal and neurochemical response: you?ll produce adrenaline, dopamine, cortisol and norepinephrine and these chemicals will raise the heartrate contract your muscles and narrow your attention to that one thing.
To a lesser extent, this happens if you?re hungry, too hot, too cold, or if you are stressed about something else whether that be debt, your relationship or anything else.