How to maintain motivation

Any achievement of significance has its gestation period – a phase where you only see input going in, with the output still shrouded by the cloud of uncertainty. And going through this period isn’t easy or comfortable. After all, there is actual investment of time, energy and resources, yet the returns are still notional in nature, as there is still a long way to go before the finish line comes in sight. This naturally takes a toll on motivation as one goes through a medley of emotions.

And it is true for any entity – individual, team or organization – and in various contexts like assignments, projects, and ventures. That’s why, maintaining morale is an important priority for managers, leaders, and for that matter, for any professional in position of responsibility. It is the litmus test for those who are in charge of creation & creativity. Before we discuss this point in details, watch this video to get the gist of what we are discussing, why it is important, and how it is relevant in professional and personal context…



You heard it right! To maintain morale, it is important to break journey into milestones and rejoice as you reach each of them. Yes, people’s spirit can only sustain when you divide a long-term goal into small targets and keep acknowledging these short-term victories. Often, if the distance is more, one’s determination gets adversely affected. In such case, motivation requires consistent activation. Well, like for any behavior, the root of this point lies in neuroscience.

If we will look at our brain then we will find that in our brain a chemical called dopamine is at the heart of motivation. It is known as the chemical of reward and desire. Though dopamine travels throughout the brain, dopamine-producing neurons are limited to only few parts of the brain. One of them is VTA i.e. Ventral Tegmental Area. Whenever something good happens or is expected, the dopamine-neurons in the back part of VTA get activated. At this moment, you want to keep doing whatever triggered this activation. We call this ‘feeling motivated’.

Brain remembers this pleasant feeling vividly, and seeks it out again & again. Yes, brain understands the language of immediate gratification and not that of perceived progress, that’s why, for brain, size of success is more important than the frequency of success. Consequently, the series of short-term goals derived from the long-term goal create a loop of dopamine-release which is progressive. In other words, only by keeping the achievement and celebration small, consistent and progressive, the motivation for long-term goals can be maintained; otherwise team-members will get distracted, disinterested, demoralized or disillusioned. Well, but to appreciate this fact, social & emotional intelligence is needed.

This ‘emotional & social intelligence’ is about one’s insight into the structure and functioning of human brain, and how they have the all-important impact on people’s responses and choices. This coming together of neuroscience and psychology sets the base for developing emotional & social intelligence – the skill of managing self and connecting with others. Yes, this all-important skill of all intrapersonal & interpersonal skills can be learnt, practiced and mastered. However, it all begins with some important realizations like…“To maintain morale, it is important to break journey into milestones and rejoice as you reach each of them”.


Dr. Sandeep Atre

‘Emotional & Social Intelligence’ Expert

Founder – Socialigence

Note: Socialigence ( offers self-paced video-based online course on ‘Social & Emotional Intelligence’ with content that has relevance across the globe, and delivery specifically customized according to the work-scenarios in India.