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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call me directly at 513-561-4288.
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