Why You Need to Forget Everything You’ve Learned About Motivation

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Some people are go-getters and others aren’t. Some people are more driven than others. 

You hear these assertions all the time. They give the idea that motivation is largely fixed, that people have it or they don’t. In reality, though, you can build motivation. Think of motivation as a skill that can be developed and strengthened over time. 

Are You a Driven Person? 

Whether or not you feel like you’re a driven person doesn’t matter. Your drive changes throughout time, and it fluctuates depending on the task you are focusing on and why.

What’s important is understanding that you can ignite your drive with certain actions. 

3 Ways to Strengthen Your Own Motivation

Your drive is in there. You just need to grab it and strengthen it. You can do this in a few different ways. 

1. Know what you want and why, and connect that to what you do. 

Tying your life goals to your work is an incredibly powerful way to recruit your drive. Everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing, but few know the “why.” I know people who go to work every day because they need the money. They don’t know why they’re making money. They don’t have a purpose. 

For example, I once worked with a salesperson who had a lot of call reluctance. He would make numerous excuses for not picking up the phone. In our discussions, we were able to define why he was working and making money. He eventually said, “Once my kids are done with school, I’ll be 53. I would like to save enough to retire and buy a farm. That’s my ultimate goal.” 

Following that conversation, he reminded himself of this every day he arrived at work. He discovered his drive and this new desire to wake up and do the work. He wasn’t working to make money for his company. He was working for the farm.

Choosing your new reality and tying it to what you do at work can be incredibly motivating. 

2. Make a plan. 

Years ago, researchers at Harvard Business School studied hundreds of sellers to find out what motivates them. They found that task clarity — sellers knowing what to do on a day-to-day basis — motivates workers the most. It’s not monetary compensation, the strength of sales management, or even their own inner drive that tops the motivation chart. It’s when they know specifically what they should be doing and when. 

The less daily task ambiguity, the more motivation. If you plan your activities each week, if you say, “I’m focusing on A, B, and C this week,” you’ll be much more motivated.

3. Track your progress with a colleague. 

It’s not enough to just have a plan. You need to work the plan and hold yourself accountable to it. Everyone has a to-do list, but not everyone completes their to-do list or has the right activities on their list.

Dominican University recently conducted a study in which researchers examined workplace achievement of objectives. Two groups were studied:

  • Group A: This group did not track their objectives weekly or share their results with a colleague. 
  • Group B: This group wrote down their objectives and reviewed them with a colleague each week.

In Group A, 43% achieved their goals, which were just short-term objectives. The achievements in Group B were nearly double, with 76% of people achieving their short-term goals. 

When you track your progress and review it with someone else, it pushes you to say, “I’m going to do this. I’m going to make this happen. I’m not just going to let time float by and not do it.” You also have someone to hold you accountable. Self-imposed social pressure helps you stay on task and on target.

Getting Your Goals Within Reach

Knowing what you want and connecting it to what you do, planning your actions weekly, and tracking your progress weekly with an accountability partner will help foster a “get-up-and-go” mentality, strengthening your motivation muscle every day. 

Your drive is there. It’s in there. You just need to recruit it so that it comes out every day.


Image Credit: kenary820/Shutterstock.com

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