Working For the… {Insert Reward Here}

The 1980’s rock band Loverboy’s one-hit wonder has become a sentiment to the nine-to-fivers in the American workforce. “Everybody’s Working for the Weekend” has rung true for a lot of us over the years. You work hard so when Friday afternoon comes along, you can play hard (or Netflix hard). We as a society live under a personal reward system, and a lot of it has to do with how our brains are wired.

Among the necessities for human survival- food, sleep, etc- rewards drive human action. Rewards make us learn as well as bring pleasurable feelings. When we expect a reward, different areas of your brain communicate to our neurons to release dopamine. The reward itself does not do not elicit these responses, but instead the expectation of a reward. Think about when you teach your dog to roll over, enticing them with a treat. It is not eating the dog treat itself that teaches your dog to be motivated to do that action and then store that memory, it is the dopamine release when your dog is expecting the treat. So, now that many people around the world are working from home, in some cases not leaving at all, many feel a lack of motivation. There are a multitude of factors that contribute to this newfound sluggishness. For one, people are not in their normal environment that is designated for the work they do. Also, people are not having in-person contact with their coworkers.

Besides the physical shifts people are experiencing at this moment, there is also a psychological fluctuation occurring.  We can predict that an overwhelming tendency to not complete work as thoroughly as normal is happening due to the lack of our trusty reward system that allows us to persist. Luckily, this disruption can be fixed by implementing incentives to keep us going. Here are a few examples that will be sure to get your reward system activated and release that dopamine.

https___blogs-images.forbes.com_manondefelice_files_2018_06_beverage-computer-flower-948888-1200x907.jpgPHOTO BY RAWPIXEL.COM FROM PEXELS

1. Make a List

List your activities and tasks for the day, ranging from how much you enjoy the task as well as the time/effort required to complete each. It can help to complete your most challenging task first. During this unprecedented time, we are finding that the morning is most conducive to completing tasks. If you enjoy reading, implement that into your daily routine. Having small rewards throughout your day will make those bigger tasks seem less daunting and you’ll be more inclined to complete them.

2. Plan Your Weekends

Start planning at-home activities for your weekend. Planning theme nights or cooking favorite meals with your family or whoever you’re quarantining with will create some stress-free fun. We tend to feel lost and inactive when we don’t have an agenda of even things we enjoy. Bigger events on your weekend calendar will keep you plugging through the workdays.

3. Look Ahead

In a time when we are all yearning for normalcy, it can be beneficial to reflect on the aspects of your daily life that you took for granted now that they’re put on pause. It is important to look towards the future of post-quarantine and plan for what you want to accomplish or experience, but for the meantime, try and make a list of goals for quarantine. Have you always wanted to try yoga? Or, has the daunting stacks of clothes in your closet been hanging over your head? Now is the perfect time to complete these at-home ambitions. Then, when normal life resumes, you can go into it with all your spring cleaning in the rear-view.

We as a world are being given a very rare opportunity of time. Yes, this is a time where we are grieving the loss of lives and our past-lives, but we can also use this pause to do just that: pause. Becoming aware of our surroundings and those out of our environment can open doors of acknowledging and appreciating the world for what it is and what our place in it may be and how we can change it for the better. We all have the option to come out of this pandemic with personal growth. Now is the time to research that topic you’ve always been interested in, start exercising, or become more involved in your community. No more excuses, it’s our time to do what needs to be done for ourselves and those around us.

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