Mike Sissens looks at ways to get yourself motivated.
You’ve decided that you need to do CPD. Now all you need is someone to motivate you, get you started and keep you going.
A delegate from the motor industry on one of my company’s recent development programmes was asked ‘What is motivation?’ He thought hard and replied ‘The money’.
If only it were that simple! We all need money to live, but the motivation we need to earn that cash is far more complex.
The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that motivation is something that moves, or tends to move, a person to a particular course of action; it initiates movement or action. Most important, it involves a contemplated result. In other words, it’s energised behaviour that is focused on a goal or objective that’s been thought through.
Why, then, do we feel motivated sometimes, and sometimes we don’t? When motivated, we feel different. We may become excited, challenged, committed, more alive, but usually energised to do something. We may feel we are moving towards our objectives. As human beings we all have a desire to achieve. The first thing we need to do is decide what it is we want to achieve. For many, this in itself will be a revelation, as most simply allow life to happen to them. If you do not know where you are heading, how will you know when you get there?
Understand that the goal has to come first, then the motivation follows, but the goal itself needs to have a purpose and it needs to be specific. It could be extra leisure time, relaxation, job satisfaction, more money, energy, better health. The important thing is to keep asking if we are getting the achievement from our goal that we set out to achieve?
We need to know how we are personally motivated. What do I mean? Imagine you are in a long dark room. At one end of the room there is a large block of ice, at the other end is a group of friends keeping warm by a huge log fire. You start off by the block of ice; it’s cold – very cold. Are you motivated? Too right you are. You move, take action, and get yourself as far away from the ice as possible. That’s ‘away’ motivation. As you move away from the ice it’s effect on you diminishes. You move to the centre of the room, the ice no longer has an effect on you. Looking back at the ice, you move on to something else. That’s the problem with away motivation; anyone will take action when they are cold, hungry or in enough pain, but once you start moving away, the problem you want to overcome diminishes, and the motivation ceases to exist.
So what about ‘towards’ motivation? There you are in the centre of the room, not too cold or too hot. In fact you could be described as being in the ‘comfort zone’ - where most people spend all their lives - when suddenly you notice the group of friends sitting around that big log fire having a good time and they call out to you to join them. Off you go. That’s towards motivation.
Away motivation is away from the pain, towards motivation is towards the pleasure. Are you the kind of person who is desperate to get away from where you are, or are you the type of person who is inspired to move towards something? If you are unsure, ask yourself and others around you how you frame your needs. Do you find yourself saying that you need to earn more in order to pay for all the bills, or do you tend to state your desires in terms of what you want to happen?
Most people only think about their working lives when asked this question. You may find it useful to look at your personal life to give you clues. Your hobbies, for example: just why did you start renovating old sports cars?
Consider your greatest achievements, and ask yourself why they made you feel motivated. You may find the answer in the recognition you sought or received. That old ‘soft top’ you restored that won first prize at the County Fair may have rewarded you with recognition among your peer group. When you finally sold it, it may have fetched a tidy sum, and the monetary reward was what spurred you on. It may have been the challenge of finding and making work all those spare parts, or it may have been the pressure of having it all done by the deadline for the show.
Ask yourself if these motivators change when the context changes. Maybe the factors that motivate you in your spare time are not present in your working life. If this is the case, is there a way to introduce them? Could you steer your work down a path that is more likely to get you motivated? Ask yourself how you could reproduce the same motivating factors in your work.
If you’re still looking for someone to motivate you – try looking in the mirror. All anyone else can do is create the environment for self-motivation. To be self- motivated you must know clearly what it is you want to achieve, focus with 100 per cent concentration, and then go after it with a passion that will not accept second best. Break down your plan into chunks and celebrate your success along the way, however humble. You will feel good about yourself, and that in turn will build your self-confidence. As your confidence grows, you will in turn become more motivated and push yourself to greater goals, and just maybe inspire others to become more motivated by your example.