How to Exploit Your Interest to Level Up Your Motivation

As You May Recall...

In a previous video, I talked about the benefits of leisure activities. Specifically, I described how regularly planning recreation into your daily schedule can actually make you more effective while you are working. That effectiveness, in turn, results in more productivity each day. It’s an interesting and somewhat counterintuitive topic, so I recommend you check out that video. I’ve included a link to it here.

In today’s video, I’m going to extend this idea a little further by talking about something you can do to increase your motivation even more. It involves things that interest you.


For the purpose of this discussion, I’m going to assume that you are already taking advantage of the benefits of rest and leisure so that your baseline level of energy, focus and motivation (i.e. your effectiveness) is pretty high. Once you reach that point, you can increase your motivation for upcoming work even more by making one small change to your daily breaks.

Relaxation isn't always the best way

When you have a situation where your energy and focus are lacking and you decide to take a break, rather than simply doing something that you find relaxing or fun, do something that you find extremely interesting. It could be anything from reading about a topic that you find fascinating to practicing a new skill. In fact, you don’t even need to do anything, meaning the interesting activity doesn’t need to involve any physical movement. You can get the same benefit by simply thinking about something that interests you.

Research by Dustin Thoman, Jessi Smith and Paul Silvia indicates that engaging in activities you find interesting can actually restore your motivation for less interesting tasks. The more intense the interest, the stronger the effect, whether the tasks you do after returning to work are related to the interesting activity or not. Activities that produce the most significant improvement in motivation are usually some combination of novel, complex and unusual.

Interest trumps pleasure

The surprising part of this research is that this approach even works if the interesting activity requires more effort than a pleasurable activity you would normally engage in. In fact, the interesting activity doesn’t even need to be something you consider particularly pleasurable, which is often the case when you are learning a skill or trying to understand something complex. Whatever you choose to do, it probably shouldn’t be too physically taxing, though, as that can lead to physical fatigue, which would offset any improvement you gain from your interest level.

There is one qualifier for this tactic to make a noticeable difference, though. You need to be in a state of what psychologists call “resource depletion”, meaning your focus and motivation are at a low point. If that is not the case then, while you may still get a motivation boost, it probably won't be any more than just taking a walk or doing something else fun, as I described in my earlier video.

Since you can’t always predict when you will reach a point of resource depletion, you should come up with a few different topics or activities that will work in different settings. Then, whenever you’re struggling with focus and motivation, you can simply pick one that best fits the situation.

Please let me know how this tip is working for you by leaving a comment below.

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My goals is to help you with your motivation challenges. If you have a specific problem you would like help with, you can reach out to me directly at