Which of the 5 challenges below do you need to revisit?
Books, theories and articles about what motivates us and demotivates us are ubiquitous; but is it really that complex to diagnose and heal our own individual motivational aliments?
Goals and goal setting have clearly dominated the field of motivation for several decades, both from an academic research perspective and from an organisational performance management perspective. Additionally, goals are understood to be the solution to progressing many of our focus areas outside of our careers.
So firstly let’s clarify what a goal is. According to the Oxford English Dictionary a goal is “a desire or aim”, or alternatively, the primary champions of goal setting Locke and Latham, suggest a goal to be “a mechanism for monitoring, evaluating and adjusting one’s behaviour”. Locke and Latham’s theory of goal setting informs us that setting specific challenging goals leads to better performance than setting a vague goal, such as doing one’s best.
So is it as simple as, we go set goals to achieve all of our desires and we will surely be constantly motivated and producing great performance and progress?
No, it’s not that straightforward. Many of us experience phases where we are not motivated, where we are lacking energy and focus, and feel frustrated, and perhaps have lost belief that we can shape our own destiny. It is likely that when in the midst of one of these phases, one or more of these issues should be focused on:
1. You’ve lost sight of your “North Star”
Perhaps the most important question in both your career and your life is: “What is your purpose”? What is your mission, your ideal self you have set out to become, your guiding vision? Whatever specific wording of the question works for you, the answer to the question is of great importance. This is your higher order goal, your purpose, your North Star. People commonly find their vision and focus set on the tasks and details of their jobs and their everyday lives. People’s lives are increasingly busy and challenging, and as our focus becomes exclusively set at a task level, we lose sight of our North Star, our why. Operating without aligning back to our North Star is ultimately a common cause of demotivation, because this results in a minimised sense of purpose.
2. You’ve no plan
You may well have a clear guiding goal and sense of purpose, a clear understanding of your “why”. However, a clear strategic focus on the longer term “why” goal, without sufficient focus on “how” or “how to”, results in the person having no means to reach their intended outcome. A goal without a plan to get there remains a dream. A dream that remains no closer to becoming reality is inevitably demotivating.
3. You’ve no energy
You may indeed be an extremely focused person with a clear strategic goal and a well-structured and thought-out plan to achieve your ultimate goal; however, without sufficient energy to fuel you towards achieving all of the day to day tasks and growth activities that you need to achieve, you find yourself struggling or failing to achieve your planned objectives. If you’re growth plans are based on you being energised and motivated, but in reality you are frequently lethargic and sometimes feeling burnt-out, this is likely to result in feelings of frustration and demotivation. If this is the case, some basic problem-solving is required. Why are you frequently de-energised? Are you getting sufficient sleep, do you need more exercise, does your diet fuel you or weaken you, are you incorporating fun into your plan or only tasks?
4. You’re no longer motivated by your primary goal
Perhaps you have had a lifelong ambition, or have been acting on a long-term intention to achieve a certain outcome; however, you find yourself regularly procrastinating or sluggish and unenthusiastic in your approach to the attainment of your goals. If this is the case, it might be very beneficial to take some timeout to reflect if your initial goal is still aligned with your values and your evolved view of your ideal self.
5. You’re only existing
It is not uncommon for people to completely lose sight of their purpose, and overtime become solely focused on meeting their objectives and staying on top of their day to day chores, whilst retaining connection with friends and family. This situation can often lead to feeling like the proverbial hamster continuously running around the wheel, without any significant positive outcomes on the horizon. It is very difficult for people to maintain optimism and motivation to live a purposeful life without having intended outcomes or goals, which drive and maintain their attention and effort.
Are any of these challenges relevant to you?
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