5 Ways to Motivation
• How motivated are you feeling today?
• What changed about your motivation during lockdown?
• What would be useful right now?
In March, my motivation levels were high. I felt energised and productive, creative and connected. I won new work with new clients, built relationships, recorded podcasts, developed new programmes, wrote articles, moved my business online and motivated others. Despite the worries and uncertainty, I had a strong sense of my mission and purpose and I felt buoyant, upbeat.
But by July I was feeling tired, de-motivated and low. I had retreated into the practicalities of getting by, my confidence was suffering and I felt like I was struggling even to tread water. It was hard work motivating myself, let alone other people. I had lost my sense of purpose and felt like running away.
Does this sound familiar?
Thankfully, I’m now on much more of an even keel and I hope you are too. I’ve reflected on what made a difference for me and my motivation over the last few months and thought it would be useful to share those with you now.
1. Feel a sense of connection
During lockdown, I was able to work more regularly with colleagues and associates who I’m also lucky enough to call my friends. Connection, or our sense of relatedness or belonging is one of our Universal Psychological Needs – and by being able to satisfy this need, we create for ourselves an opportunity to feel motivated. Connectedness is a need to care about and be cared about by others without an ulterior motive, to feel connected and to feel that we’re contributing to something which has meaning. Being connected, at work, at home, with our purpose is crucial if we’re to maintain our motivation in the long term. What re-enforces your sense of connection and where are your opportunities to foster belonging for yourself and others?
2. Look towards new beginnings
The dip we may have experienced in our energy levels is known as the ‘regression’ phase in developmental psychology. It follows on from the ‘emergency’ phase, where we draw on our reserves of energy and have a strong drive to get things done. Regression is unavoidable and uncomfortable to say the least, and it’s unsurprising that after such an acute and sustained period of ‘emergency’, regression feels like a massive come-down. So how to we move on, towards the ‘recovery’ phase and start to rebuild, refocus and re-energise? Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg in her Harvard Business Review article this year, ‘If you feel like you’re regressing you’re not alone’ suggests that we need to re-orientate from the ‘“how can we handle the crisis?” to, “how can we move out of the crisis?” – adjust our gaze towards the future and begin to look forward to new beginnings. How will you move further into your own recovery phase this month?
3. Find space for creativity
Have you ever tried really hard to be productive? Maybe you’ve sat at a desk with a blank sheet of paper, pen poised, ready to get going? And have you ever found that trying hard produces the opposite effect? It can be de-motivating and frustrating.
When I’ve been talking to people over the last few months, the most inspirational or creative thinking seems to happen when we’re not trying so hard to get there. Being in nature can help with this as we soften our focus and create space for our thoughts to emerge and develop. This is where we can connect with our motivation and creativity, as we step away from ‘toxic productivity’ towards a space where we can thrive. Where will you find space to grow and develop?
4. Manage energy
5. Use strengths
Of the things you know you’re good at, which give you energy and which require energy? Our true strengths provide energy and motivation and those things we’ve learned to do well out of necessity (for me, that’s spreadsheets and detail!) can often be draining and de-motivating. Draw up a list of your true strengths (ask your friends, family and colleagues to help too) and find ways to use them regularly. This will not only increase your motivation but the evidence suggests, your resilience too.
A big thank you to my colleague and associate, Naomi Regan for providing the resources and inspiration for this article and to Naomi and Lisa Jeskins for working with me to create and deliver a webinar series which has supported hundreds of NHS workers throughout lockdown.
For more information about the series, which includes workshops on personal resilience and self-care; supporting others 1-1; leading resilient teams; harnessing and building motivation; and moving forward with purpose, do get in touch.
And finally, thank you to everyone who listened, chivvied and supported me with my own wellbeing and motivation over this year. You know who you are and you’ve made the world of difference ????