Have you met a super motivated person? Motivated individuals are always on the go, and they never lose sight of the goal. I can’t tell you how many times in the various communities I have lived where others have asked where I get my energy from. I never know how to answer them. Being busy and active is just how I am wired. I also have a neighbor who proclaims to be a lazy person. My neighbor wisely stated that it is easy to do nothing. It is easy to lose sight of goals because it takes work. Motivated people have challenging days, too. We all have days where we battle with ourselves to find the motivation to accomplish the tasks needed to reach goals.
According to an article in Harvard Business Review, motivating yourself is one of the main things that sets high achievers apart, and it is hard. Motivation is personal. What works for me is not going to work for you.
Researchers have spent 20 years exploring human motivation, and several strategies work for most people.
- Design goals, not chores
When individuals set goals, if they are measurable and achievable, they are more committed regardless of how difficult the goals are. For example, you might have an exercise goal to run a 5K race in 30 or 45 minutes. Or you might have a sales goal to reach a certain dollar number in a month. The goals need to be specific and measurable. For example, when training for the 5K, you must send train and push yourself to beat your time.
Motivation at work comes from focusing on elements and tasks that are enjoyable. Even if you love your job, all jobs will have functions you do not enjoy doing. I am the type of person that chooses to get the least favorite activity done first. When I was learning to run, I hated running on a treadmill. I felt like a hamster on a wheel going nowhere. I started running along the street which helped as the scenery changed. I would set small goals; first, it was to run for 10 seconds without stopping, then it would go to 30 seconds. I had to learn how to breathe correctly for endurance. The key to designing goals was to create them to be bite-size and measurable.
- Harness the influence of others.
Humans are social creatures. We constantly compare ourselves to others and our surroundings. Others influence us. When we are inspired, we try to copy the behavior of those that inspire us. When people train for 5K’s or marathons, they have running partners for accountability and a trusted person who cheers them on.
- Read Daily.
The most successful people in the world attribute their success to reading many books. (Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk). The goal is to be learning something new all the time. If it is not reading a book, it could be listening to an audiobook or a podcast. Setting time to read will have a long-lasting impact on your thought process and inspire all areas of your life.
I have a colleague whom I connected with the moment I met her. When we visit, we have so much to share and enjoy conversation with one another. I would say, “I recently read…” to which Janet would say, “Cheryl, when are you not reading?” The best way to stay motivated is through self-improvement. We want to emulate those that inspire us.
- Just do it!
Staying motivated comes from action. If we only talk about our goals, it becomes too easy to procrastinate and make excuses as to why now is the right time to start. It is critical to set small measurable goals. One of my favorite leadership authors in her book “Bet on You” said: “Wishing and hoping aren’t going to get the job done. If you want something, go after it. If you need help, ask for it.” (Morgan & Lynch, 2022)
- Celebrate the wins!
It is critical to celebrate the small wins along the way. If you wait until the end goal, you will lose steam and won’t reach your goal. Acknowledging that you reached a goal helps you keep pushing forward to the next goal and the next goal until you reach the end. For me, sharing my accomplishment with the distance, I ran with friends was celebrating.
Mark Twain said, “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.”
Contributed by Cheryl Viola, Executive Director | CEO, MBA