There are those who have it in spades and those who just can’t find it: motivation. Motivation  is like the gasoline we need to fuel any project we want to complete, from the moment we get up in the morning to the moment we go to sleep at night. But even though the world is divided into those who have it and those who don’t, this doesn’t mean it’s a limited resource. It’s not genetically handed down: it can be found, one just needs to know how.

The Independent spoke with Professor Dan Ariely, a psychology and behavioural economics professor at Duke University, North Carolina. In his latest book “The payoff”, he gathered some tips and tricks that can help one find the motivation necessary to get things done: study, finish a job, lose weight etc. Here are 6 useful tips that can help get us back to being dynamic and pro-active.

1 – Focus on the long term
When satisfying a momentary desire, the satisfaction is reached immediately, but lasts less. It’s better to think in the long term and take small steps towards your goal: this way it will be easier to motivate yourself day by day with the same goal and, in the end, be even happier once you reach it.

2 – Avoid self-sabotage

Self-sabotage: when you know what you want and you know how to get it, but do nothing to achieve it. The reason? Professor Ariely traces it back to fear: if there’s even a single chance of failing, something inside us will make us do so – in order to then blame our failure on external factors. Ariely uses some students’ behaviour as an example: “A clear example of self-sabotage is a student who goes out the night before an exam.”

3 – Move the focus of your goals

Success can have different meanings depending on the objectives one has set for themselves. Therefore, if we fail in something ambitious, we mustn’t for this reason lose our motivation: this reasoning is useful for the achievement of every type of goal, including more modest ones, which could still allow us to reach the satisfactory result we were after.

4 – Celebrate your successes

It’s difficult to appreciate a conquest if, soon after, we don’t even take the time to savour it before getting back in the game. Ariely suggests to celebrate every success as much as possible: it helps to keep control over the situation.

5 – Keep your own concept of success in mind

Since the concept of conquest is different from person to person, it’s important to keep one’s own in mind in order to have an objective indicator of measurement: comparing one’s successes to those of others doesn’t make sense, if the meaning is different. “Remember that the ultimate goal is to arrive at the end of fatigue,” explains Ariely.

6 – Create rules

Ariely is the first to talk about his struggle in finding enough motivation – his case involved trying to lose some weight. He told the Independent that: “Years ago I made a deal with my cousin. We decided to stop eating desserts during the week and start to train three times a week. We set out precise rules regarding eating and exercising, it’s a system that involved keeping an eye on each other. These things all put together have helped me a lot “.