Throughout your career, there will undoubtedly be times where you’re struggling for motivation and find yourself working through the days in autopilot.
It’s not uncommon to experience the occasional lack of motivation, especially if you’re in the middle of a tedious or long-winded task, however being demotivated for a sustained period can negatively impact your productivity and general mood.
Of course, there can be some serious events that occur within your personal life that will cause you to lose focus, but if you find yourself struggling to stay on task without good reason, then it’s clear that you must change your approach in some way.
It’s at this point that you should take a step back and consider what it is you want to achieve in your personal and professional life, outlining clear goals that will motivate you even in the most difficult of circumstances.
Not only do goals offer you short term motivation, but they help shape a long-term vision that keeps you moving in the right direction.
This ‘big picture’ creation should reflect what you want to achieve with your life, whether that be in ten months or ten years’ time.
Once you have this in your mind, you can then break it down into smaller targets and SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) goals that allow you to navigate through your career one step at a time.
By setting clearly defined, SMART goals you will gain motivation each time one of these is completed, allowing you to recognise daily work as progress instead of one long demotivating grind.
Effective use of the to-do list
For most people, it can be extremely helpful to write smaller goals down, creating a to-do list that gives targets more force and helps you visualise a clear approach.
This list should contain a detailed breakdown of the individual pieces of work that need to be accomplished, alongside deadlines and other important information.
When you’re outlining operational goals, it’s important to keep these as small as possible, so that you don’t overwhelm yourself and feel as though nothing has been achieved despite spending days on the same task.
This also means setting realistic goals with a realistic timeframe for completion. Although being ambitious is a positive trait, placing unnecessary pressure on yourself and then failing to achieve what you set out is counter-productive and could derail your motivation entirely.
While goal setting is a skill within its own right, it has a direct link to aspects of delegation and the completion of high-payoff activities.
Despite your list of SMART goals all holding value in terms of the ‘big picture’, there will undoubtedly be tasks and pieces of work that demand your immediate attention, while others can be put to one side for the time being.
Understanding which jobs to prioritise is critical to your success as leader, and if this pressure is harnessed correctly, then it can be used as motivational fuel, replacing procrastination with progress.
If there are smaller operational goals that are hindering your ability to complete high-payoff activities, then look to delegate these to other members of the team.
Get stuck into it…
The path to long-term success begins with short-term goal setting, and without the self-motivation to persevere and complete daily tasks, neither can be accomplished.
Once you have set clear goals, then don’t be afraid to jump into it and start working towards them, as you may find that once you’re in a routine then continuing with a specific task becomes much easier.
No matter how much planning you do, without getting into the zone and putting in the physical work, you’ll never realise your true potential or shift the balance of motivation back in your favour