Motivation: A Neuroscience Perspective

When it comes to supporting change, what gets in the way of moving forward from a Neuroscience perspective? What can we do to enhance motivation or help change along when motivation is low?

Motivation is one of the most valuable forces we have when it comes to pushing through the discomfort associated with transformation and change. It is no surprise then that we invest in motivation-supporting efforts. We focus on building trust, engagement, understanding, acceptance, inclusion, commitment to action, developing deep meaningful insight, and reducing threat, all with a deeper intention to enhance motivation. However, based on Neuroscience, we may be putting too much of the weight on motivation alone to work through the discomfort associated with change; both when people are motivated, and when they are not.


Neuroscience sheds a fascinating new light on this topic. It highlights how we can support people to increase motivation, but also how we can supplement motivation with additional forces to enhance change adoption, or resolve the discomfort associated with change even in the absence of motivation.

Why Do We Need Motivation to Change?

To best understand how to increase motivation or support people through change in its absence, we may first benefit greatly from learning why motivation is needed in the first place:

  • Change causes discomfort as a result of 2 main causes: perceived threat and the need to rewire the brain.

  • Each one of these discomfort sources is very strong and can block change on its own.

  • Discomfort associated with the need to rewire the brain comes up when Unlearning is part of change and results from the fact strong pr