A key skill in your pathway to success is to understand your own motivation, understand why you might lack motivation and keeping yourself motivated.
People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.”- Andrew Carnegie
It’s not easy to stay motivated especially if you are in a leadership position. You may have heard the expression, it’s lonely at top. You might start out full of self-confidence but somewhere along the way self-doubt creeps in and you begin to falter. This can happen to anyone in a leadership or management position, even with supportive family, friends and colleagues.
When your self-confidence takes a knock, it can lead to anxiety, uncertainly or even depression. The key is to recognize why you’ve lost your self-confidence, why you feel demotivated and put in place strategies to counter this.
Here are a few reasons you may lack motivation
1. Lacking capability
You need to have the right capability to be motivated to do a job. If you don’t, you will not be able to perform the role. If you can’t perform the role, your self-confidence will take a knock. Best to admit this and seek help. To remedy this, you must invest in training and up-skill yourself. If you don’t have the capability to learn the role, you might be in the wrong job. If you discover you are in the wrong job, admit it and move on quickly to ensure your self-worth stays intact.
2. The job is not challenging
If a job is not challenging enough, you are likely to feel bored, especially if you’re operating at level far below your capabilities. Boredom can manifest itself in many ways; poor motivation, poor attendance or a poor attitude.
To remedy this, seek out opportunities that are more challenging. Opportunities exist in many forms. It could be an acting role where your take on more responsibility, it could be a special project or even a new job opportunity. You are the master of your fate. You don’t have to accept the status quo and be bored at work.
3. Not getting along with your colleagues
Let’s face it you don’t always get along with people you work with. Because you spend so much time at work, a healthy work environment is important. If you genuinely don’t get along with your colleagues, this can make you feel miserable which in turn reflects on your performance. If you can'[t resolve your differences, you may considering finding another role.
Leaders have a responsibility to build a culture where people respect each other and their differences. If you work in a culture where differences are not respected, you may need to consider moving onto another company where differences are respected. If not, invest in your communication skills where you learn to influence both sideways and upwards to bring about a healthier work environment.
4. Not feeling appreciated
A lack of motivation can come down to a lack of appreciation and acknowledgement. When you don’t feel appreciated you begin to feel isolated and used. Lack of appreciation can take a number forms, being under-paid, a lack of opportunity or constant criticism. Without any kind of appreciation, you lose the will to do your best and end up only doing what you need to and withdraw your commitment. This is not only not healthy, it can lead to depression.
Everyone needs feedback on how well they are doing and most of all, they need to feel appreciated. Talk to your boss and ask for feedback. This simple step may make all the difference to how you’re feeling.
5. Being overlooked
Perception is reality. You may lack motivation because you feel you are being overlooked. It may be a promotion, a title, an opportunity or some other perceived perk. Your lack of motivation comes down to believing you won’t ever get what you deserve.
If you have been genuinely overlooked and not given the same opportunity as someone else, try to understand why? Does it come down to a lack of capability or is it a leader’s personal prejudices getting in the way. Talk to your boss and ask for feedback on why you are being overlooked. It might be something simple and easily remedied.
6. Personal problems
A lack of motivation at work can be affected by stress, worry and anxiety. You are human and things happen in your personal life that overflow into your work life. It could be financial worries, a relationship breakup or even poor health in the family. Many organizations have a free counselling service that is confidential you can tap into. Take advantage of this as it will escalate your return to balance. When your personal problems sort themselves out, then your motivation will return.
You may need to ask for time off to sort through your issues. What’s important is, to resolve these issues as quickly as possible so you can get back on track. Overcoming your struggles could be as simple using the problem-solving formula which you can access here.
7. Having a negative attitude
Some people look at the world in a negative light (The Attitude Cycle). Everything bad happens to them, it’s just their luck. Nothing ever goes right. This can be an underlying personality trait or it could be a lack of self-esteem. If this is your default personality, you will always lack motivation and the main reason why is, you don’t take responsibility for your life. It’s easier to blame others. This keeps you trapped in a drama triangle where you continue to blame others for your problems and want to be rescued.
It’s your responsibility to find a way to change a negative attitude which may require counselling, surrounding yourself with positive people or embarking on a personal development journey. At the very least read the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. His first human relationship principle is “Don’t criticize, condemn or complain and this book will help you understand how.
If your attitude doesn’t change, you may find yourself in under-performance management. The problem with a negative attitude is, it can become infectious and affect the motivation of the team.
8. Job design
Job design can have a significant effect on how you perform at work. If the job is challenging and interesting, you are far more likely to be motivated to perform. Being given more responsibility and job rotation can all contribute to your motivation levels.
Talk to your boss about job rotation and other opportunities to ensure you stay motivated in your role. Perhaps even make suggestions as to how you could improve the job in a way that makes your boss look good. Then they will have the motivation to listen to your ideas.
9. Lack of confidence
If you believe you can do something, then you are right, you can. Equally if you don’t believe you do something you are also right, you can’t. Why would you set yourself up for failure if you believe you will fail? If you lack faith in your ability to perform, then you will stumble.
Look at your role and consider have you been given the right amount of training? If you have, consider you may lack the confidence to take on the role. If you lack self-confidence, ask for a coach or mentor to help boost your confidence levels.
Investing in your sales and marketing skills will increase your ability to influence others. You don’t need to become a sales person however, these skills will increase your self-confidence and your self-worth and make you more marketable for the future.
10. Lack of direction
You have a strong vision for the future and believe you can achieve it but have not set out the steps along the way. You might not know where to start so instead of being motivated, you procrastinate.
Procrastination is the biggest killer of dreams. Understanding what type of procrastinator you are, and why you are procrastinating. This will help you resolve the issue for you. Without a clearly communicated direction, you will falter not knowing what to do next.
Leaders need to take responsibility for a lack of direction. They must consistently communicate their vision and support this with well communicated standards in the form of KPIs. If you don’t have a job description or KPIs then ask for them. Talk to your boss about what their expectations are. Once you know their expectations this gives you a clear way forward.
11. Lack of focus
Sometimes goals and objectives can be so overwhelming, you don’t know what to focus on first so you try to do everything at once. A scattered approach lacks focus leading you to do “busy” work instead of important work.
The good news is, with a powerful vision, inspiring goals, proper planning, good time management and a positive attitude, you can overcome a lack of focus.
If leaders discover one of their people is lacking focus, they can support them through training, coaching and mentoring to improve their time management skills. Ask for time management training or a coach or mentor then you will soon be back on track.
How to overcome a lack of self-motivation
Set personal and professional goals
The first step in self-leadership is to set goals and objectives, not just for the business but also for yourself. As with all goal setting, your goals need to be SMARTER, that is Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, Time-bound Ethical and Recorded.
Have constructive thought patterns
Having constructive thought patterns about your role and accomplishments means you will be more motivated and better prepared to tackle day to day business activities. Keeping a powerful vision in sight helps keep you on track and moving forward. Your vision should be something that inspires positive thoughts and constructive thought patterns.
Use daily positive affirmations to change your mindset. Positive thinking is both an attitude and a habit. Affirmations merely accelerate your progress.
Engage in positive self-talk
Have you ever noticed the inner voice inside you? You know the one, it’s a real chatterbox. Whether you realize it or not, this ‘internal chatterbox’ constantly affirms what you think about yourself every day. It’s just that some chatterboxes affirm negative beliefs about themselves and others positive beliefs. How you talk to yourself has a bearing on your outcomes. Practice positive daily affirmations and you will find your motivation levels will soar.
Much research has been conducted in sports, that demonstrates the power of visualization (mental imagery). There is hardly a top-notch sports person who doesn’t visualize their own success. Visualization can be very effective in helping you achieve your personal goals. One part involves mentally practicing a task, anticipating any obstacles and working out solutions before they occur. The other part involves visualizing successful completion of a task or project and the positive results that follow. Visualize being successful in your role and you will become successful in your role.
Monitor your progress
Constantly checking on your progress gives you the feedback you need to ensure you are on the right track. It gives you control over your progress and allows you to make adjustments along the way. Make sure you regularly talk to your boss about your performance and progress if your organization doesn’t conduct annual performance reviews. If they do, ensure you include training and development opportunities in your discussion to ensure you have something positive to focus on going forward that way you will always know if you are on track and heading in the right direction.
Reward yourself for achieving your goals. Treat yourself as your own best friend. You don’t always need your boss or others to recognize your achievements, you can also do this for yourself.
On a final note
Firstly understand why why you lack motivation. Then take action to remedy this and you will find yourself back on track in no time.
In a Nutshell
Reasons for a lack of motivation.
- You lack the capability
- The job is not challenging enough
- You don’t get along with your colleagues
- You don’t feel appreciated
- You’ve been overlooked for a promotion
- You are experiencing personal problems
- You have a negative attitude
- Poor job design
- You lack confidence
- You lack direction
- You lack focus
To overcome a lack of motivation:
- Set personal and professional goals
- Create constructive thought patterns
- Engage in positive self-talk
- Visualize success
- Monitor your progress
- Reinforce achievements