Have you ever waited around, waiting for inspiration to strike? Maybe you had work to complete that needed a little more creative thinking, but you weren’t feeling it. You might have even tried various things at the time to find motivation – maybe in scanning LinkedIn, Instagram, or Pinterest for ideas. Or perhaps you looked for inspiration in nature, by taking a walk.
Did it work? Chances are, you might have found a dab of motivation wrapped up in inspiration and it might have launched you – for about ten minutes. And then you were back to feeling unmotivated, but now that feeling was coupled with the idea that maybe you just weren’t capable of creativity. Or lazy.
The problem is, by seeking out motivation first, you’re putting the cart before the horse. It starts first with the idea – the “why” – of your goal or desire. This is the driver and basis of motivation.
As a business leader understanding that each of us is motivated differently, so what works for Joe may not work for Jane. Having conversations with your employees to understand their needs and how they work best will drive them to achieve the goal.
If that’s the case, then what can you do to get your and your team motivated?
1. Start by doing something. Anything. Any action itself inspires motion. How do you do that? By using the momentum of a project that you’re already engaged in, you’re able to use your current forward motion to encourage you to keep going.
It’s the difference between the ‘carrot’ and the ‘stick’ approach. In the old classic analogy, to move a donkey forward (donkeys being stubborn creatures) you have two choices. One is to use a stick, which is a punishment and fear-based approach. In this case, the ‘stick’ is the old way of motivating ourselves, where we try to force ourselves into action by throwing a lot of “You must do this now” statements, or use some type of threat, such as being written up or fired. This approach may work in the short-term, but the long-term effects can lead to turnover and financial costs to the business.
But, by taking action first, you now switch over to the ‘carrot’ approach or the reward. This method of motivation is much more positive because you’re looking at the fact that you’re already doing something and asking yourself to keep going. Think, “Hooray for you, look at how much you’ve gotten done today, let’s see how much more you can do!”
Focusing on the goal, and being inspired by it, will entice you to start and keep going after the carrot, or the reward/benefit from attaining that goal.
However, sometimes action alone isn’t doing it, and you may find that you’re still forcing yourself along, which then becomes demotivating as resentment creeps in. Keeping the goal in front of you, such as writing it or having a dream board, will keep it alive.
2. Act ‘As-if.” The idea behind this method is simple – you act like you’re already motivated, and amazingly, you’ll feel motivated. It’s kind of like making yourself smile when you’re not happy, only to find out once you’re smiling that you’re feeling happier. It’s a mindset-shift – when you ‘see’ yourself taking action, it will inspire and motivate you to get the job cone. Professional athletes use this method all the time – if I works for them, it will work for you.
3. Start Small. In the motivational realm, we have to look at how the brain functions when taking action. Our brains are hard-wired to stay in its current state so, anytime you want to start something new, it will resist since this is moving away from the known. The fight of flight response kicks in, leading to fear and resistance.
To avoid this reaction from stopping you in taking action, you should start small, with steps that will not activate the fight or flight response. These small steps will help you feel ‘safe’ while developing positive, motivating actions that will feel natural and be the new ‘norm.’ Using the Kaizen method, take the least threatening action until you keep moving to larger ones. There is also the 5-Second Rule, as developed by Mel Robbins, where you count backwards from 5 and then act, as this overrides the pause your brain may feel.
Together, these three tools will motivate you even when you’re not feeling inspired initially. Remember that action is the key. So act first – the motivation will follow. You’ll be amazed at the difference and see how much your team can accomplish.
If you’re finding a lack of motivation and performance in your employees, reach out to learn more about our services and programs to get them on track. Why suffer – get started today!