How to Align Your Motivators – The Motivation in the Moment Protocol (Part 2)

Part two in a three part series about making motivation easy. This post describes the three motivators for long-term motivation and simple practices you can integrate into your work day to align these three motivators.

Staying motivated in the moment means nothing if you’re focused on meaningless busy work.

“It is not enough to be busy…. The question is: What are we busy about?” 

– Henry David Thoreau

Do you ever find yourself looking out the window at 3pm on a cloudy Thursday afternoon and wondering, What am I really doing here?

If you’re a high-achiever, you may have conditioned yourself to push through those questions of doubt with one goal only: Git ‘er done. Nose to the grindstone, you push through the work, no matter what.

I hate to say it but… the reality is that pushing can only get you so far. Sure, you can grin and bear it for a few days or even a few weeks. But short-term motivation without long-term alignment is a temporary solution… Kind of like drinking three extra cups of coffee to compensate when you only get four hours of sleep.

Pushing through work is the first step towards exhaustion, resentment and burn-out.

When the going gets tough, you have two choices. You can grind away, pushing yourself to put one foot in front of the other. Or you keep your eye on the prize, letting a vision for the future rekindle your inner fire for change. (Learn more about push and pull motivation on Psychology Today.)

AMP-up your motivators
You shouldn’t have to push through the workday.

The challenge is, staying motivated towards a long-term goal isn’t easy. It takes diligence and persistence to fuel your fire. Thankfully, there are proven practices to stoke the flames for long-term motivation that lasts.

Part two of the Motivation in the Moment Protocol dives into three long-term motivators, and how you can align them to propel you through the workday.

If you’re clear on these long-term motivators, it will be easier and easier to slay procrastination in the moment. These long-term motivators let you step back and look at the bigger picture to see how each and every hour adds-up towards a meaningful goal. Because how you spend your days, is how you spend your life.

AMP-up your long-term motivators to beat procrastination.

’AMPing’ up your motivators is the critical habit to make follow-through happen with more ease. Daniel Pink’s research on intrinsic motivation distilled long-term motivation research into three critical areas: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose, AMP for short.

The more you can mitigate stress around completing your projects, the more lucidly and creatively you will think throughout the day. You not only have more enjoyment throughout the day – you also make better strategic decisions. And who doesn’t want to feel amped-up and ready to go, all day long? (Read more in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

#1 Motivator: Renew your sense of Autonomy.

Autonomy is a mindset that you are in control of how you spend your time. It is that deep inner commitment that you take responsibility for where you are, and where you are going.

You may be thinking, Lieve, I work for someone else. I don’t have control over what comes on my plate. I serve at the pleasure of my boss! Let me let you in on a little secret, even “the boss” may not have mastered autonomy.

Many leaders who struggle with autonomy. Even though they are “the boss,” they lack the necessary boundaries in place to take charge of their schedule. Without proper boundaries, they react to problems one day at a time. Their schedule crowds out time for adequate rest or even the daily routines needed to thrive.

Autonomy is all about setting an intention and bringing it to life. No matter your position, you can practice a mindset of autonomy.

What is your mindset behind your schedule? Are you reactive or do you own the work on your plate? Even if your schedule is made for you only you can decide to take ownership over where you are and show-up fully. At some point, you made a decision to be in this job, to take on this work, to carry out these projects.

#2 Motivator: Mastery is part of your professional mindset.

As a lifelong learner, I love this motivator! Mastery is all about cultivating a growth mindset. When you are in a state of growth, you get energy to continue and avoid that feeling of stagnation.

A clear path for learning and developing your talents taps into Mastery. Mastery is fueled by having a plan in place to improve your skills – with clear milestones, goals and outputs. Pursuing mastery in a craft, domain of knowledge or even a character trait draws on the good-side of pride and boosts confidence.

In his book The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance, Steven Kotler describes the average sweet spot for mastering new skills as 4% beyond the skills we already have. Remember, “being uncomfortable is a sign of progress.”

#3 Motivator: The most powerful ‘purpose’.

Purpose may be the most obvious motivator… but it is also one of the most powerful. Our daily routines tend to be myopic. We easily forget about the bigger picture. Knowing that we are contributing to a greater cause beyond ourselves rekindles an inner fire to get through the tough times.

Purpose is nothing less than the age-old quest to find meaning in our quotidian lives. A common myth is that your purpose is one fixed guiding star that never changes. In reality, it is natural to have different purposes behind different areas in our lives.

Bringing your purpose to mind – and setting that intention before you get started on each task in your work day – makes execution so much easer. Instead of pushing yourself through the task, its as if you’re on water skiis and your purpose is pulling you forward, giving you the energy you need to stand-up fly across an ocean. (As a disclaimer I am rubbish at water-skiing. I’ve only made it up when pulled off the dock, so its a work in progress!)

Take Action: Align Your Long-Term Motivators

Autonomy in Practice: Take control of your schedule.
Reviewing your schedule, growth plan and ‘why’ throughout the workweek strengthens long-term motivation.

Take a look at your schedule the night before, or at the start of the day. Plan out the day on paper or visualize the day’s events unfolding. Walking through the day in advance transforms your schedule from something that happens to you, to something that you direct.

If you are frustrated with your schedule, identify specific times when you can practice autonomy. Can you bring creativity to a specific work project? Can you express yourself? Is there a ten minute break in the day when you have control over your time? Block out that time to do something more than answer emails ; ) Take those 10 minutes to work on something important to you, a passion project, flesh out a new idea, or go on a walk.

Mastery in Practice: Know your plan for growth.

If I stopped you on the street right now, would you be able to tell me the three-to-five key areas of your professional growth for this month? Get clear about the skills you are growing. Will you practice public speaking in a meeting? Will you cultivate presence? Are you improving your proficiency in pivot tables? Reflect on your current skills and write down three-to-five growth areas you’re committed to this month.

Purpose in Practice: Connect to your purpose.

Remembering your purpose before starting a new task is a sure-fire way to stay engaged throughout a project – no matter how long it takes. Take the time to connect your daily tasks with a greater purpose in your life. I dare you to find the specific why for each of your projects in a given day.

Connecting to your purpose doesn’t mean you have to answer the age-old question “why am I here” when you’re vacuuming the house or sending e-mail reminders. It means connecting the dots between vacuuming and expressing love for your family or e-mail reminders and leading your clients into transformation.As an added benefit, when you’re clear on the why, you may be able to find new ways to achieve your goal!

Each and every one of us is challenged to stay motivated and follow-through. Thank you for being a part of this community, where we face the struggle head-on and cheer each other on our journeys. For additional resources and encouragement on autonomy, mastery and purpose, check out these related blog posts:

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