When starting a new job or project we’re often thrilled and full of enthusiasm. This attitude is amazingly precious: highly motivated people can boost their performances at any given task, be it executive, creative or relational. Motivation is crucial in our lives, but some factors may undermine it: lack of purpose, disruptive emotions, lack of control, or lack of connection. All of these factors have different origins and they can be addressed differently.
At times we find ourselves not caring enough about our tasks. Lack of purpose originates from a mismatch between our values and the task at stake. The mismatch can be intellectual (we find the task not compelling). Other times there is an identity mismatch: the skills required for the task are not central to our self-conception. The lack of motivation can be addressed when the mismatch is not evident. We can reflect on how our task may be connected to values or skills relevant to us. Alas, we can investigate how the task is connected to a greater personal or professional goal.
Even the highest achievers may find themselves with difficult emotions that can be related to their personal lives: anger, anxiety, grief, and sadness can distract us from our goals, leaving us a bit unmotivated. When hard emotions kick in, the best thing we can do is to talk to someone, be it a family member or a close friend. For employees, the best option is certainly to address these issues privately with our manager.
Sometimes we win, sometimes we fail. However, failure can be hard to handle, especially when it is unexpected. Maybe we made a mistake evaluating the necessary amount of time to complete a task, maybe we over-evaluated our skills. These mistakes in evaluation, when not addressed, may leave us with a sense of lack of control over our performances (the evergreen ‘I am not good enough for this'). We can overcome this apparent lack of control by simply focusing on what went wrong during our first attempt Failure is essential to learn and we can adjust a better strategy for the next task – maybe with the help of a manager or a coworker.
At times we may feel a bit isolated or unheard by our colleagues or collaborators. Motivation arises when we feel part of a team and we know the people we are working with. We need to know they’re willing to help us, honest and open about their ideas and concerns. This doesn’t mean we have to be everyone’s best friends, but a good professional team needs cohesion and connection between members. If we feel not connected to the rest of our team, the best thing we can do is to take our time to re-establish this connection: teambuilding activities or a genuine expression of interest in our colleagues’ professional (or private) lives can be an amazing start.
Ilaria Brusa - PWN Content Creator