How does motivation impact our day to day lives you ask? It’s the most vital of the mental states. It’s why we get out of bed in the morning. Why we go to work. Even why we come home in the evening. Simply put, motivation is what keeps us moving throughout the day. There are entire courses on motivation and how to understand what keeps us moving through the day (I just finished a collegiate level course in such manners). How do we keep ourselves motivated to continue our days, though? Keeping track of the tasks that need to be done on any given day is tricky, but manageable.
What is motivation?
Let’s get all scientific for a second. Motivation is simply our drive to do something. More scientifically, it’s the way that our brain interacts with our surroundings to push us toward completing a specific task. A lot of stuff determines what motivates us. First, do we have the available physical and psychological resources to get it done? Second, do we have the know-how to do it? Third, do we have a reason to want to do it? And so on, and so forth.
What we find with people who suffer from a lack of determination is that they also suffer from a lack of resources. When we think about resources, we think about money. But the term resources means so much more than cash. Psychological resources are key in most cases. Psychological resources are made of the stuff in our mind that occupies our time with things other than what we need to get done. Stuff like anxiety, depression, frustration, and anger take up those crevices and make us so much less likely to succeed at our jobs. This blog post is about that stuff. It’s about getting over the things that prevent us from being able to succeed.
How do we free up those psychological resources?
Primarily, freeing up psychological resources is about eliminating those issues that cause us to lose resources. We have to reduce anxiety, frustration, anger, depression, etc. All of these occupy a lot of our headspace and mess with our ability to reach a level of motivation that we want to attain. This might sound hokey, but reducing these key issues is about relaxation and calm. So, how do we increase the calm and decrease the chaos?
Do some yoga
Find stuff that relaxes you, like office yoga. Most of us spend time in our offices, and therein lies the issue. When was the last time you reached a true state of relaxation in your office? I would be willing to bet it’s pretty stinking rare. Assuming that that’s the case, office yoga might be your calling. If not, try some meditation. The Calm app is one of my favorites for guided meditation, and it’s great for beginners to the practice of relaxation. Believe it or not, relaxation is an art, and requires practice. Finding that time to release those fears and worries means finding motivation to continue your work.
Make your work something to look forward to
This may sound even more hokey than the previous relaxation statements, but I found in those jobs that I hated (yes, I had them too), making little contests out of them improved my ability to focus on the tasks at hand. Huffington post recommends using low cost incentives for employees, but I like to take this to an even smaller scale. I would make little competitions with myself. I would set goals for myself throughout the day, and see if I was able to meet them.
In this way, I created a token economy for myself. Set a goal, meet the goal, get a reward. Usually, that reward for myself was making the time to do something that wasn’t work, but you can create a token economy for your team. I once had a team that played a game of “hot potato” with sales. We had a team mascot that would make its way around the team as sales were made and the person who ended the day with their paws on the mascot got a little prize. Even though it is highly likely (probably guaranteed) that the prize came from the dollar store, it was more about the process and the bragging rights than it was about the prize itself.
Make goal setting a regular part of your workday
This may seem like a given, but in those jobs that I hated, conversations about goals were rarely part of the day. The problem there is that you never know what is expected of you. I always had problems with expecting too much of myself, but many of your colleagues will have no idea where their work is falling on the spectrum. Have some clear metrics that need to be met, and make sure that you have regular check-ins with the associate about those goals. Make sure that the goals are realistic and have that conversation about what a great job is being done, or what requires some further attention.
If you’re working in a place that doesn’t have the ability to set these types of meetings, make up your own. Go over your job description, and find out what tools you can use to meet those requirements. Set up a calendar for yourself with your goals on a pedestal so that you know when you’re doing good work, and when you might need to improve. You may end up drawing some eyes to your work habits in a very good way. Reward yourself for meeting your goals with something that you value. This could be a dinner date with your significant other, a night at home doing nothing but eating ice cream, or a massage. Treat yourself when you reach your goals.
Putting it all together
In the end, the most important thing to help you meet your motivational goals is to take care of yourself. Also, creating a structure for yourself if there is no structure is extremely helpful in making sure that you understand where you are at. Make your job fun and rewarding for yourself, and maybe help a few coworkers at the same time.