Tag Archive for Goals

Dealing with Lack of Motivation

We’ve all suffered from lack of motivation in our careers at some point, there’s no way around it.  External stress factors beyond our control, negative emotions, feeling overwhelmed with the task at hand, feeling ill equipped; these are just a sampling of reasons that may impact our motivation levels.  Whether for an hour, a day or a season, dealing with lack of motivation is a common issue for which many of my clients seek resolution.  People ask for a secret formula or silver bullet with which to combat lack of motivation.  Oh, how I wish I had the cure!  People are often surprised when I share that the best recipe for lack of motivation is creating a vision of passion and purpose.

That prescription doesn’t always settle well.  Some clients actually ask me if I can inspire and motivate them, either through a pep talk, words of wisdom, or actually checking in and keeping tabs on their progress with a certain project.  The last of which I would never agree to.  News flash folks – relying on others to motivate you doesn’t work!  Sure you can gain inspiration from a book, a class, a Ted Talk, or even enlist the help of an accountability partner, but sustained motivation must come from within.

Motivation isn’t conjured through emotion or the environment.  You can’t wait until the mood is right, or strikes you just so.  Neither can you wait for the circumstances in your life to align in the perfect fashion.  Waiting for the precise mood and perfect setting is like counting on the lotto to serve your financial future; it ain’t gonna happen.

Creating and sustaining motivation begins with identifying your vision.  What do you really want out of life, or in the short-term?  If you’re not sure what your short or long-term goals are, you have a little work to do before you can get motivated.  Create a list of things you want in the short-term and in the future; maybe even as it relates to retirement.  Make sure they are achievable and realistic.  With my individual coaching clients, I provide them with a set of vision questions that always jump starts the process.  Above all make sure it is your vision, and that it is aligned with your spirit and your passion.  This is a very important distinction and part of the process.  You must be true to yourself when determining what you want, anything short of that will hinder the process of motivation.  My point here, is that if your goal is actually someone else’s dream for you, or their dream that they want you to be a part of, it won’t fill your heart with hope.  Others’ expectations of us often hinder us from living out our own vision or dreams, which is no way to live, and is certainly not motivational.

Which brings me back to the prescription for motivation.  Once you’ve identified your own future goals, bring them to life with a ‘vision board’.  Whether it’s a dream home, new car, vacation, new wardrobe, promotion, or certain retirement lifestyle, imagine what that looks like.  Using either a small poster board or document on the computer, fill it with pictures and words of your short and long-term goals that comprise your dreams.  Put the board in a place where you will see it every day; on your bathroom mirror, refrigerator, in your office or workspace.  Over time, you can add to it, or change aspects of it if necessary.

Now, with the end goal in mind (and your vision board), remember why you started in the first place to help you with motivation.  You may not currently be in your dream job, or particularly excited about the project or task in front of you, but remember this: it is a means to an end.  Knowing that the work at hand is part of the path to your future dreams will motivate you if you make that connection in your mind.  Piecing work tasks and projects together over time are the building blocks to your vision.  Holding that knowledge top of mind will serve as an excellent source of motivation.

Is a vision board a fail-safe, sure-fire method to motivation?  Of course not.  However, it is an excellent way to deal with the negative emotions that can be de-motivators and hold us in our patterns of inactivity.  And, although no one can intrinsically motivate you, and be responsible for your actions, you can surround yourself with positive people and enlist their help.  Share your hopes and visions with a friend, spouse, significant other, or trusted colleague.  Sometimes a more neutral party, or a coach, can be most effective in aiding you in your vision.  If you feel comfortable, show them your vision board.  If they are willing, ask your accountability partner or coach if you they can check in with you once or twice a month.  Not that they will play the role of keeping you on task, but to serve as someone who might offer up a sobering dose of reality, or knock you out of an immobilized state if you’re feeling stuck.

Just a word of warning as I close.  As I mentioned, we all suffer from lack of motivation from time to time.  It’s just part of life.  However, if you are feeling chronically unmotivated, and at the same time not finding joy in the things you used to enjoy, you may be suffering from depression.  If you feel this describes your situation, please seek the help of a physician or mental health professional.  Identifying the root of the problem is essential.  If you suffer from typical lack of motivation, and would like help identifying your goals and dreams, and making the connection work for you, I would love to help.  Please reach out either via email at kay@highheeledsuccess.com or call me directly at 513-561-4288.

©Copyright 2016.  Kay Fittes.  All Rights Reserved.

Resolution Reframing

So, how’s your New Year’s resolution coming along?  If you didn’t cringe at that question, you among the elite 8% of the American population.  A 2013 college study found that 92% of people don’t follow through on their resolutions.*  These statistics should not be a surprise.  Throwing everything you’ve got at a new way of doing things once a year, and expecting results is a monumental task and hope.  Instead, I believe our resolutions should be a weekly event and check-in.

Our self-renewal must be a continual process; a work in progress. If we want to improve ourselves, it must be done in an ongoing, disciplined way, not in a ‘throw-everything-you’ve-got-at-it’ once a year event.  Consider the effort it takes to get an education, work through a project at your job, raise a family, or plan a trip.  It’s not a one-time event.  True, it starts with one decision, but continues with ongoing commitment and work.  So it is with ongoing renewal.  It’s for the long haul.

Instead, I encourage you to reframe the way you think about your life.  Reframing is a new way of looking at something with the goal of approaching it in a better way (see my thoughts on reframing conflict in Kay’s Consulting Corner in my November newsletter).  To reframe your life, I’d like to suggest putting it in buckets such as family, health, professional life and development, friendships, spiritual, daily responsibilities, and recreation.  This method is very similar to the Franklin Covey approach of organizing your priorities, with one additional step, which is formulating your personal mini mission statements.

By creating mini mission statements, you move from an idealist approach of hope, to an action-oriented reality of what you are really willing to do.  I would categorize most New Year’s resolutions in the ‘hopeful’ category, often made without a lot of forethought and a plan to move forward.  A well-written mini mission statement will naturally produce action-oriented goals and to-do lists for each of your buckets.  The basic framework of your mini mission statement is this: “I want to go from X to Y by Z.”  No, it’s not an algebraic equation.  It’s a way to put a start, end and achievable measurement on your goal.

For example:

  1. “I want to go from a level 2 manager (X) to level 3 manager (Y), by the end of the year (Z).”
  2. “I want to go from 170 pounds (X) to 130 pounds (Y) by December (Z).
  3. “I want to work less (X) and spend more time with my son (Y) each week (Z).”

Notice these mission statements are all in different buckets; work, health and family.  They also have reasonable timeframes. Example 1 allows you 12 months to work on projects to reach your promotion goal.  Example 2 focuses on losing just 3 pounds a month to reach your goal weight by the end of the year.  And, example 3 can be as simple as carving out a weekly half hour of time to play a board game or go out for an ice cream.  Small steps toward a larger mission.

The thing I like most about the mini mission statement is that it sets realistic goals, and gets rid of the perfectionist problem.  You know, the one that often plagues women who think they have to ‘do it all’, ‘be it all’ and ‘give it all’?  Mini mission statements for each bucket takes perfectionism out of the equation, and brings your goals into focus.  However; you must commit to reviewing them weekly.

I like to take Sunday afternoons or evenings to reflect on the week, review each bucket and see what I’ve done to fill up the mission.  In 2015, carve out time for yourself each weekend for self-renewal.  Begin this weekend with the following steps:

  1. Identify your buckets
  2. Reflect on your mini mission statement for each bucket, and then write it down using the from “Go from X to Y in Z” framework.
  3. Break down the steps you need to take to get to Z. (Like in the above examples; 3 pounds a month or ½ hour per week.)
  4. As you plan the coming week, refer to each bucket and see how you might make the first step for each mission statement with the things you already have on your plate.
  5. Your first step needs to be small enough that you could it immediately, or at least tomorrow.  These leading tasks will get you going.

The following weekend, review your buckets and goals. How did you do for the week?  The most important part in this process is to refuse to indict yourself.  Each week, there will be something moving you closer toward some goals, chances are it will be the momentum of success.  There’s always more we ‘could’ do, but the focus needs to be on what we ‘have’ done.  Celebrate that and move forward instead of beating yourself up.

The key here is to be intentional, and really think about what you want out of life, rather than letting life toss you around with unnecessary obligations (finishing that Words with Friends game, or having all the laundry done), and sudden enticing opportunities (spur of the moment shopping outing) that can sidetrack us.  I use some of the following tools to help with mini mission statements and tracking.  Some have been recommended by colleagues:

Wunderlist – Simple list of things to do – https://www.wunderlist.com/
Trello – Aligns with the bucket strategy, mini goals and list with deadlines. Allows other people to work with your projects. https://trello.com/
Irunurun – Helps with goal writing and ‘gamifies’ goal tracking with scores for completion. http://www.irunurun.com/
Google Keep – Like Pinterest, but for your thoughts, links, lists and ideas. https://keep.google.com/
SmartSheet – Intuitive project timeline creator with dependent due dates. https://www.smartsheet.com/
Inbox and Calendar labels – Use colored tabs and folders to organize your messages and appointments.  Gmail and Google calendar have this feature, as do most other email and calendar apps.

These helpful apps and tools will help organize your goals, and hopefully make it easier and a little fun as you make progress on each mini-mission.  If you feel like you need ongoing help to reach your mission statements, and some coaching or accountability as you move toward your goals, give me a call to discuss professional coaching.  I’d love to help you meet your High-Heeled Success® and then some!

*Source: University of Scranton. Journal of Psychology study, January 1, 2014.

©Copyright 2015.  Kay Fittes.  All Rights Reserved.