Self Motivation and Motivating Others

Self motivation tends to be elusive and inconsistent. Do you feel motivated for a short period of time and then get distracted by something else less important? 

It has happened to me and it will likely happen again I’m sure. Why is this? 

Or, perhaps you hope to motivate other people. But, if you can’t consistently motivate yourself how are you supposed to motivate anyone else? 

For me motivation happens when I see a clear path to achieve a long term goal that helps both myself and at least one other person positively. If I list a set of specific actionable steps to achieve a long term goal that I know actually work then I feel motivated to act.

However, this is easier said then done which is why some advise developing habits and routines instead to refine the path to get to your goal. 

A habit is defined as a settled or regular tendency while a routine is defined as a sequence of actions (those habits) followed regularly. Routines and habits seems like common sense, but common sense is not common practice. So, the question is how to develop habits and routines and which are the right ones to focus on?

To start set a goal to prioritize tasks against. Then, create a task list of all the activities you could possibly do; a list that will likely grow over time. Then, prioritize the list and for each item ask yourself ‘if I complete this will it get me closer to achieving my goal?’. For the tasks where the answer is yes set them as a high priority. Select a few of the highest priority tasks and pick a duration to work on them that you can comfortably complete each day. Your goal is to routinely do simple tasks daily that add up into a large return over time as the building blocks to your goal. Then, as you get consistency add one more to the list or increase the duration marginally. You’ll find that over time your routine will be seamless and you’ll do complete it without effort. 

Additionally, request help from other people rather than self motivate. Hiring trainers and coaches to keep you consistently motivated may keep you on track to your plan. You’re more likely to keep your promise to yourself if someone is helping you to be accountable.

However, I find that if I don’t actually have a clear path to achieve a goal, realize that my planned activity won’t actually get me to my goal, or I don’t feel like I am getting a reasonable return on my investment (time, money, etc.) then I don’t feel motivated to act. 

That said, what would motivate someone else to support your business or project?

I generally feel like people want to contribute to a vision that has an impact on other people’s lives in a positive way. Motivating others only happens when you understand someone else’s long term goals and show them that by doing the tasks you’ve outlined now will fulfill their long term goal. 

However, it is not quite that linear. People are motivated extrinsically and intrinsically. 

Intrinsic motivation could be feeling a sense of accomplishment while extrinsic motivation is something tangible like money. 

I think different people are motivated by different things and at different points in their life; a fact that could be tied to specific life events (such as starting first job, getting married, having kids, etc.)

Some people are motivated by money, others could be motivated by helping other people grow or improve their lives, and others still may just be eager to please and are motivated when they get positive approval from others. 

Additionally, people are motivated to be apart of prestigious organizations. Social status is really motivating for a lot of people. So, build your organization’s reputation to one that you would be proud to be apart of and be sure to highlight your organization’s accomplishments. 

These are just examples and there are definitely more. 

How could you figure this out though? 

Have discussions with people and ask questions. 

To me the first question is to ask someone directly what his or her long term goals are. Then, figure out how your vision aligns to their goals and how the short term tasks you’re asking them to do will help them get to their long term goals. 

You could also ask what work someone enjoys doing. Sometimes if someone is just happy doing specific types of tasks they are more motivated. Additionally, in the inverse be sure to understand what task someone doesn’t like doing as that will be demotivating. Of course sometimes there are tasks that an individual doesn’t enjoy that they have to do (i.e. some people don’t like documentation or administration), but do your best generally do minimize task delegation to work that is engaging to team members you hire. 

You could also ask directly what motivates someone and have a discussion around that. The challenge is that you may not get what you want to hear but you’ll know what individuals will fit the best in your organization and what you are willing to expect. Another challenge that you can run into is that you may not be able to deliver what the person wants in the timeframe that they want. In those scenarios be honest with the person you’re talking with. I’ve been in those scenarios in my career where someone promised me something that they couldn’t deliver and that was more demotivating than if my manager/s at the time were just honest and realistic with me about what they could promise in career goals. Ideally you would figure this out when you are interviewing but sometimes these things change over time. 

Motivation comes and goes but the more often you can find it in yourself and inspire it in others the more likely you’ll have meaningful work and meaningful relationships. Also, you’ll just be happier . . . and that’s a pretty good thing!


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