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March 31st.

It’s the day on the calendar most dreaded by HR professionals and managers.

It’s “Quit Your Crappy Job Day!”

But many didn’t wait for the day itself. They’ve been quietly quitting in droves since the onset of the pandemic. Front line workers, managers, even the bosses. Leaving in search of something better. Something that provides greater meaning and more inspiration.

Because while we all need enough to live on, the monetary transaction alone isn’t what leads us to want to work.

While hopefully, no one signs up for a job they believe they are truly going to hate. What is it that can cause us to fall so out of love with our work, that leads to that gut-churning Sunday evening dread of the morning to follow?

There are, as the Walrus said, “many things,” so let’s look at what motivation is all about and how you can move back towards loving what you do and knowing you’re making a positive contribution.

 

Defining motivation

According to Kafner, motivational theorist and industrial psychologist, “motivation is in essence what is considered to drive behaviour, action, and importantly persistence.”

Extrinsic motivation is behaviour driven by external rewards.

This is the person who seeks adulation, praise, or monetary gains.

“I want to be a celebrity/TV star.” 
“I want to be like Kim Kardashian.”
“It’s important to me to be seen enjoying the trappings of wealth because it gives me status.
“I want to play in a top football team because I’ll earn lots of money.”
“I want to do well, to look good in my bosses’ eye, so I’ll get that promotion.”

Intrinsic motivation is that drive to become the singer, international footballer, successful business owner you are, because you love what you do, and it makes you feel good. The money (while welcome) is secondary in importance.

Remember too, your motivation may be operating at a nonconscious or conscious level.

If something is feeling “off,” this is the time for self-reflection and to consider,

  • “Do I have the ability to do this work?” ”Am I cut out for this?”
  • “What’s important to me about the work I do?”
  • “Does this work align with my values?”
  • “Does my work provide me with satisfaction, a sense of achievement, and an opportunity to learn more?”
  • “Am I valued, recognised and acknowledged for my efforts?”
  • “Is this something I want to continue doing, or is this role just a stopgap?”
  • “Am I fully included in the team?”

Increasing your level of motivation can be achieved, though you need to be motivated to do so!

Because sometimes we can all end up in a bit of a funk, where your level of stress or distress colours your world grey, and you end up either stuck, or in a downward spiral of increasing negativity and hopelessness.

How you perceive the world is unique to you and while wishful thinking is never the solution, adopting a more positive outlook is what raises hope, optimism, and confidence in your own capability.

Maybe you’ve noticed yourself how you get so much more done, enjoy things much more when you are in a more positive state of mind.

It can even make your boss or supervisor appear more human.

As a GP, I had several patients, well, just one or two, whose sole purpose in coming to see me appeared to be to make me feel inept as a doctor.

No matter their “troubles,” I could never provide a worthy solution. All had been tried and failed and there was sometimes a sense that they knew they had triumphed once more over the hapless doctor.

And yet they kept coming back for their follow-up appointments.

Like Mrs Gummidge in Dicken’s “David Copperfield”, their songs were stuck on replay about being “a lone, lorne, creetur… and everything goes contrary with me.”

Shaking yourself out of misery can be hard, especially if you’ve been stuck for a while.

What can help is to listen, to the stories you’ve been telling yourself and ask,

Are they true?
Have they become embellished over time?
Are they congruent with your values and what you desire?
What are you prepared to do, to change things for the better?

In taking back control rather than being given someone else’s well-meaning advice it becomes easier to shift your perspective and to consider what options or possibilities you do have.

 

Kickstarting your motivation

Tap into your WHY. 

Why do you do what you do? Is it a calling, something you were drawn to or something that gradually evolved over time? Feeling that your work is meaningful is a very powerful motivator.

 

Ask what makes your work interesting.

Is your work something you’re passionate about? Is it something new and exciting you’re keen to learn more about because you can see the potential and you want to be part of it?

Are you asking questions, sharing your experiences and what you have learned with others?

 

Check you have the resources you need.

It can be demoralising to have a great idea but then find you lack the financial or other backing to make it a reality. Do you have a list of all the resources you need to do your work and do it well? If some are missing, where can they be found and who can help you?

And do you monitor your progress? Do you review how far you’ve come, how much you’ve gained and celebrate all wins great and small?

 

Work with support.

Your future success will depend on having the energy, tenacity, and perseverance to achieve your goals. You may be a Lone Ranger, but you’ll achieve far more by working with the support of others. The saying that two heads are better than one is true. It can amplify your results. Who do you have in your social network that can be your advocate, mentor, trusted advisor, and teacher?

 

Recognise your limits.

We all have limits. Because we are human. Optimising and creating sustainable high performance includes knowing when to step back and take a break, because it’s vital to rest, restore and reset for what’s next.

 

One of the biggest risks to motivation can be failing to recognise that you’ve done enough, worked long enough, and achieved enough. Overextending, overcommitting, and overpromising are dangerous potholes to fall into.

The joy of motivation lies in having fun, which is hard to do when you’re exhausted.

Lightening up, taking time out for those non-work activities that you enjoy and spending time nurturing and strengthening those most important relationships is what counts.

Whether you’re leading yourself or leading others towards finding greater happiness at work, this is about choosing to fully thrive.

How do you retain the motivation for what you do?

 

Dr Jenny Brockis is a board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, keynote speaker, trainer and best-selling author. Her new book Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life (Wiley) is available for purchase.

If psychological safety, burnout prevention and mental wellbeing is something you’d like to find out more about, please contact me to set up a time for a chat.

Dr Jenny Brockis

Jenny is a Board-Certified Lifestyle Medicine Physician, author, coach, and workplace health and wellbeing specialist. Her latest book 'Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life' (Wiley) is available online and at all good bookstores.

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