It’s the height of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and that means for many of us it’s vacation time. Kids are not in school, they’re home if you have kids and maybe work is slowing down or it’s you’d rather be outside doing recreational sort of things. I know there are some parts of the world, especially this year, it’s far too hot to be outside, so you might as well be in an air-conditioned area.
This time of year it’s harder, when you’re going to work, to find ways to stay motivated and continue to focus on the work in front of you. I wanted to take a few minutes and share some ideas on how to continue to keep yourself motivated, and also if you’re responsible for the work of others, to encourage others to stay motivated as well.
If you happen to ever look at my LinkedIn profile, you’ll notice that my tagline says “changing the world one conversation at a time”, and that’s the work that we do here at Fierce, and it’s what draws me here. Borrowing a term from Jane Fonda, as I approach the third act of my life, I am doing work that fuels me. I’m finally aware of what that is and have the ability to do that kind of work on a regular basis.
Motivation tends to be around every corner and under every sheet of paper and in every e-mail that I get some opportunity to do the kind of work that that fuels me. It relates also to what draws me to this work that I’ve been doing for most of my career, which is something in the human development field, so people I find are fascinating.
Don’t get me wrong, people can be incredibly frustrating as well, I don’t have to tell you that. I know that I’ve said more than once over the course of my career, if it weren’t for all these people, my life would be so much easier. I also recognize that it weren’t for if it weren’t for all these people, I may not have a job. People are incredibly fascinating as well and that’s what drives me to this work.
Finding meaning in your work is important and sometimes it’s not obvious, so look for the connection between what you do and the impact that it has on others. I’ve heard for many, many years throughout most of my life that you get what you give.
If you’re ever in a point when you’re feeling less than motivated, something less than happy, one sure way to improve your own mood is to focus on giving back to others and giving something to others. If you can find that connection in your work, that’s really the Nexus of finding the motivation and finding the connection between your purpose, it’s not always easy. Sometimes you have to look for ways to find that impact.
I for many years, quite frankly, all through my undergrad years, I put myself through school by working third shift overnight in a supermarket frying Donuts. Not incredibly obvious how that’s improving the lives of others. In fact, now with 20/20 vision, in hindsight, I recognize I may have been doing more harm than good to others and from a health perspective. Yet at the time, what fueled me was the recognition that these little sweet breakfast treats or anytime of the day treats were providing some joy to people. I would come in for my next shift each day and looked for the donut case and I’d have some great joy if it was mostly empty. That means people liked what I made and it sold out and I took some satisfaction in that and it got me through, got me through my undergrad, you know.
It’s not always obvious, you know and finding ways for yourself can be hard. As a manager, part of our role is to help the people we are responsible for, to make that connection between what fuels people on your team, what the goals are and connect that to the strategies, mission and vision of your organization. That’s part of our job. If you can do that for yourself, great, and do that for others as well. It’s a wonderful way to create that connection to help others to stay motivated.
Finally, a really big piece is some appreciation can really go a long way. You don’t have to do work that changes the lives of others. It doesn’t have to be what we all do. I think that could be exhausting and frustrating and confusing if our lives were changing all the time. Yet we do need to feel that what we do is valued and appreciated by those around us. A sincere thank you, whether it’s from the person that you report to or it’s from somebody that’s outside of your area or somebody that’s not even at work, just somebody in your life that you value and appreciate. When they say a sincere thank you and congratulations, that can really go a long way towards motivating.
I wish you well this summer, and if it’s winter because you’re in the southern hemisphere, then keep up the good work. Summer’s coming around the corner and continue to focus on what is it that fuels you, what brings you happiness and how can you share that with others and give something to others and and provide an impact for others. I think that in and of itself will continue to motivate us all to keep doing whatever it is that we do.