“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar.
Within the corporate world, motivation and its importance is an important topic. Whether its employees, a team, company vendors or even customers, motivation is at the centre of every plan of action. But that is not the case when it comes to how motivation works on an individual level. The key to motivating others is to motivate oneself.
So what and how should one do to motivate themselves? Well, there are several ways, some look to traditional ways that have been mentioned in management theories, whereas the others look to scientific research.
Remember back in school and college, how teachers would always set goals and objectives and ensured that the students followed through? Well, these directives never made sense at the time and were conveniently forgotten. But it applies to our lives, and especially work, even now. An individual’s personal development in an organisation can be measured by how they successful they’ve been in achieving their goals.
According to research conducted by Edwin Locke and his team, giving people specific goals and then allowing them to achieve an outcome increases their motivation levels, in comparison to just saying something like, “Just do your best.”
When it comes to motivating oneself, the same rules apply. When there are set goals and objectives, the individual likely to be more efficient and might work harder to achieve these goals.
At work, if it appears that the employee is not enjoying themselves or have no passion or interest in the role, they will see it as a job that needs to be done for the sake of it; hence no motivation to do the job equals to no desire to do the job well. The same can be said about personal tasks carried out by an individual.
The key is to drive one to be passionate about their job or role. If it’s about motivation needed to complete a task, make the task fun, see the end objective and how it will bring forth benefits once the objectives are met. If the task bores a person or is of no interest to them, they will lack motivation.
“Apple is not about making boxes for people to get their jobs done, although we do that well. Apple is about something more. Its core value is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.” – Steve Jobs –
There are always ups and downs when one is pursuing a goal. Both as an employee or an employer, or in matters of business, education or sport, it is key to remember that things will always get better and that staying positive is the best way to stay motivated.
Optimism is a tremendous force, and according to neuroscientist Tali Sharot, she says, “An optimistic mindset changes what you do every day – and that, in turn, changes the future.”
What this means, in other words, is that regardless of how negative the situation is, if one focuses on the positives of a situation, then not only does it push the individual towards achieving that goal, but it also makes it easier for one to stay motivated and keeping oneself on track for success.
Just as staying positive and being passionate contributes to a person’s overall motivation levels, similarly how effectively one uses their time and manages to utilise their resources helps how successfully they are able to achieve their targets.
This does not mean that prioritising everything is the answer. Research suggests that having too many priorities has a negative effect because there are no real priorities as everything is considered to be in the same basket. Hence, making sure that efforts are focused on planning to achieve one or two objectives at a time, with no more than three as the maximum.
These strategies yield results, as not only will this motivate the individual, but will also help in achieving the most important goals as the prioritisation will ensure that tasks that have the most chances of getting successfully completed are the ones the individual focuses on.
There is only so much someone can say about the character of a person which is why, “one is known by the company one keeps’ has a major effect on how motivated one is.”
Scientific research has found that the peers can affect how an individual perceives their ambitions. Social circles can have a huge influence on one’s behaviour. How motivated a person is, also depends on whether that person hangs out like-minded people who are highly motivated or people who are happy with mediocre results.
This doesn’t mean one must cherry-pick their friends and avoid people who they connect with, just because they aren’t as motivated, but it might be a good idea to hang out with a different set of people at work and with another set while one is at home or having fun on the weekends.
It’s also important to keep going when things get pear shaped. There will always come a time when one hits a wall, and nothing will seem to work out, but giving up is not the answer.
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison.
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan.
It’s easy to give up and become demotivated, especially when one experiences failure for the very first time. But it’s key to understand that some of the most successful ventures in history were achieved after numerous failures. If one fails, it’s important to keep trying again.
Success can be addictive. Once successes come through, it is something one will expect to happen again and again, even at times, when one knows that achieving something is beyond their current abilities. This goes hand in hand with the desire to get rewards from success and be able to enjoy it, whether it’s the title of employee of the month or an Olympic gold medal.
Taking the time to reward oneself, whether it be taking a break after a successful project, or just a pat on the back can feel good for staying motivated. Furthermore, the success and recognition can create help one become even more motivated for the upcoming challenges.