Motivation is one of the key enablers of performance. The others are habits, mindsets, abilities, and opportunities. Motivation is the most popular, but its powers remain a mystery to many, even to workplace professionals.
Have you ever had a day at work when you just couldn’t focus? When even the smallest tasks felt like climbing a mountain? This is often due to a lack of motivation.
A lack of motivation can turn talented professionals into unproductive employees. On the other hand, when we are motivated, we can find ways to achieve remarkable things.
In this guide, I will provide you with definitions, theories, insights, and other resources. But to make this more useful to you, I will begin with the secrets of endless motivation that you can immediately use.
7 Secrets of Endless Motivation
Motivation can occasionally wane. It’s an understandable phenomenon; tasks get repetitive, challenges become overwhelming, and routine can numb our enthusiasm.
Yet, motivation is that silent force driving us towards our goals, pushing us through those tough days, and ensuring we stay on top of our game.
So, how do we keep it flowing, and not just in spurts, but in a consistent stream?
The answer might surprise you. It’s not in groundbreaking revelations, nor in complex psychological theories. Instead, it lies in simple truths that many of us often overlook.
Secrets that have been under our noses all along, waiting to be tapped into.
I will share with you the 7 secrets of endless motivation, secrets so straightforward that you might wonder why you didn’t pay attention to them sooner.
Each secret will be explored in-depth in subsequent articles, but for now, let’s dive into the first secret that can reshape your daily motivation.
1: The Power of Small Wins
The concept of ‘small wins’ revolves around breaking larger goals or tasks into smaller, manageable steps and celebrating each achievement, no matter how tiny. It’s the joy and satisfaction derived from completing these mini-goals that propels us forward.
Small wins act as stepping stones, creating a momentum that gradually builds up. When you witness progress, no matter how minuscule, your brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, reward, and motivation. This chemical boost makes you feel good and motivated to continue.
Moreover, when faced with a colossal task or a long-term goal, the mere size of it can be demotivating. But by celebrating the small milestones, you feel a sense of accomplishment regularly, which keeps discouragement at bay.
Break it Down: Got a huge project? Split it into smaller tasks and tackle them one at a time. For example, instead of thinking “I need to finish this 20-page report”, start with “I’ll complete the introduction and first two sections today.”
Celebrate: Once you achieve a small win, take a moment to revel in it. It can be as simple as ticking it off on your to-do list or rewarding yourself with a 5-minute break.
Keep Track: Maintain a progress journal. At the end of each day, jot down your small wins. Over time, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ve achieved.
2: Surround Yourself with Positivity
This secret speaks to the environment and the company you keep. It’s about consciously curating your surroundings with positive influences – be it people, inspirational quotes, or success stories.
Just as a plant thrives best in the right soil and climate, motivation flourishes in a positive ambiance.
Humans are inherently social beings, and we are heavily influenced by our surroundings. Negative atmospheres or pessimistic individuals can drain our energy and motivation, while positive environments can boost our spirits and drive.
The old adage, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” encapsulates this idea succinctly.
Choose Your Company Wisely: Actively spend time with colleagues or friends who uplift and inspire you. Avoid those who constantly complain or dwell on the negatives.
Create an Inspiring Workspace: Whether it’s your office desk or home study, decorate your space with motivational quotes, images of your goals, or anything that brings you joy and inspiration.
Consume Uplifting Content: Listen to motivational podcasts, read positive books, or watch inspirational videos during your breaks. Sites like TED Talks or apps like Audible offer a plethora of motivational content.
Sarah was feeling stuck in her job, with each day feeling like a repetitive loop. She decided to change things up by attending weekly meet-ups with professionals from her industry. The discussions, fresh perspectives, and success stories she heard invigorated her. She started to view challenges as opportunities and slowly noticed an uptick in her daily motivation.
3: Embrace the Growth Mindset
Coined by psychologist Carol Dweck, the growth mindset is the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication and hard work. Instead of seeing failures as a limitation of one’s inherent capabilities, individuals with a growth mindset view challenges as opportunities to grow and learn.
Skills and talents can be cultivated. You can become more resilient in the face of setbacks.
Mistakes are lessons rather than defeats.
This perspective shift fosters a love for learning and naturally motivates individuals to persevere in the face of challenges, as they see them as stepping stones to mastery.
Reframe Failures: Instead of saying, “I failed at this,” try thinking, “What can I learn from this experience?”
Celebrate Effort Over Outcome: Praise yourself and others for the effort put into a task, rather than just the result. This fosters resilience and determination.
Stay Curious: Cultivate a passion for learning. Whether it’s a new software tool at work or a skill outside of your job, embrace opportunities to expand your knowledge.
Having a growth mindset doesn’t just benefit you in your professional life; it transforms the way you approach challenges in every aspect of your journey.
Tom faced a significant setback in a project at work. Instead of viewing it as a sign that he wasn’t cut out for the task, he approached his manager for feedback. He attended workshops to hone the necessary skills and viewed the setback as a learning curve. Within months, he not only improved the project but also became the go-to person for that domain in his office.
4: Set Clear Intentions
Setting clear intentions involves being specific about what you want to achieve, how you want to feel, and what steps you need to take to get there. Unlike vague or abstract goals, clear intentions give you a definitive roadmap of where you’re headed.
With a well-defined purpose, your tasks and actions become aligned, eliminating the aimless wandering that can demotivate or derail you. It provides clarity, making it easier to prioritize tasks and recognize distractions. By setting an intention, you bring focus to your actions, ensuring that every step you take is a step closer to your goal.
Visualize the Outcome: Before starting a task, take a moment to picture the end result. How will it feel once it’s completed? What impact will it have?
Write it Down: Having a written record of your intentions can be a powerful motivator. Place it somewhere you’ll see regularly, like on your desk or as a phone wallpaper.
Review and Reset: At the end of each day or week, review your intentions. Celebrate the ones you’ve achieved and recalibrate the ones that need more focus.
Remember, while goals give you direction, intentions define your journey. They are the daily compass pointing towards your larger aspirations. Stay tuned for our next secret, which further helps channel your energy effectively.
Jane wanted to climb the corporate ladder, but she felt stuck. Instead of broadly thinking, “I want a promotion,” she set a clear intention: “In the next year, I want to lead the marketing campaign for our flagship product.” She outlined the skills she needed, sought mentorship, and volunteered for relevant projects. Within ten months, not only was she leading the campaign, but her clear intentions and actions caught the eyes of her superiors.
5: Practice Regular Self-reflection
Self-reflection is the act of pausing to introspect on your thoughts, feelings, and actions. It’s about setting aside time regularly to ask yourself where you are, where you want to be, and what changes you need to make to bridge the gap.
It’s easy to get lost in the daily grind, reacting instead of acting purposefully. Regular self-reflection ensures you remain aligned with your values, learn from experiences, and stay aware of your progress or lack thereof. This self-awareness can bolster motivation, as it constantly reminds you of your purpose and shows you the path forward.
Establish a Routine: Dedicate a few minutes daily or weekly to self-reflection. Whether it’s during your morning coffee, a nightly journal routine, or a walk, find a time that works for you.
Ask Pertinent Questions: Questions like “What did I learn today?”, “Did I move closer to my goals?”, and “What can I do differently?” can guide your reflection process.
Embrace Honesty: It’s crucial to be honest with yourself during this process. Recognize your successes, but also be open about areas needing improvement.
Self-reflection isn’t about self-judgment; it’s about self-awareness and growth. By regularly checking in with yourself, you ensure that you remain the protagonist of your story, driving it forward with intent and motivation.
Mike had a habit of ending his workday by jotting down three things he achieved and one thing he could have done differently. Over time, this simple practice helped him identify patterns, adjust his strategies, and consistently move toward his objectives. It wasn’t about being hard on himself but about staying awake for his journey.
6: Cultivate Gratitude
Gratitude is the practice of recognizing and appreciating the positive things in your life. It’s about focusing on what you have, rather than what you lack. It can be as grand as being thankful for significant life milestones or as simple as appreciating a colleague’s kind gesture.
A gratitude mindset shifts your attention from what’s going wrong to what’s going right. This creates a positive feedback loop in your brain, making you feel happier and more content. Such positivity can boost resilience, reduce stress, and naturally, increase motivation. When you acknowledge the good in your life, challenges seem more surmountable, and goals feel more achievable.
Keep a Gratitude Journal: Dedicate a few minutes each day to list three things you’re grateful for. It could be related to work, personal achievements, or even simple pleasures.
Express Thanks: Whenever someone helps or supports you, express your gratitude. This not only strengthens relationships but also reinforces a positive mindset.
Gratitude Reminders: Set up reminders on your phone or post-it notes around your workspace to remind you to find something to be thankful for, especially during challenging times.
By taking moments to appreciate the journey and the milestones, both big and small, you foster a mindset that continuously seeks the silver lining. This optimism can be a powerful motivator.
Rita had a habit of focusing on the setbacks. She decided to start each day by writing down one thing she was grateful for at work. Some days, it was the support of a teammate; other days, it was the satisfaction of completing a challenging task. Over time, this practice changed her perspective. She became more optimistic, tackled challenges with enthusiasm, and felt more motivated and engaged in her projects.
7: Connect with Your ‘Why’
Your ‘Why’ is the core reason behind what you do – the driving force that gives purpose to your actions. It’s not about what you do or how you do it, but why you choose to do it. Whether it’s providing for your family, making a difference in the world, or personal fulfillment, understanding your ‘Why’ brings clarity and purpose.
When tasks become challenging or mundane, remembering your ‘Why’ serves as a beacon, guiding you back to your path and reigniting your motivation. It provides a broader perspective, reminding you that every task, no matter how small, contributes to your bigger purpose.
Define Your Why: Take time to introspect. Ask yourself why you chose your career or why you undertake certain projects. Delve deep, beyond surface-level reasons.
Visual Reminders: Once you’ve identified your ‘Why,’ create visual cues around your workspace. It could be a photograph, a quote, or any symbol that resonates with your purpose.
Revisit Regularly: As you evolve, so might your ‘Why.’ It’s essential to revisit and re-evaluate it periodically to ensure it aligns with your current life stage and goals.
Connecting with your ‘Why’ is like having a compass in the wilderness of tasks and responsibilities. It ensures you never lose sight of your destination, keeping your motivation levels high.
Carlos worked long hours in a demanding job. When fatigue set in, he would glance at the picture of his family on his desk, reminding him of his ‘Why’ – providing a comfortable life for them and ensuring his children had excellent educational opportunities. This connection to his deeper purpose revitalized his energy and focus on challenging days.
Motivation is the fuel that powers our actions. It’s the internal or external drive that makes us do what we do – whether that’s going for a run, finishing a work project, or learning a new skill.
It’s the spark that ignites when we set a goal and the flame that keeps us pushing forward until we achieve it.
Why is motivation important?
Without motivation, even the most minor tasks can seem daunting. But with motivation, we can tackle huge challenges with enthusiasm and perseverance.
In a professional setting, motivation can turn a daunting project into an exciting challenge. It’s what drives us to meet deadlines, reach sales targets, or solve complex problems.
Motivation can make the difference between a project failing or succeeding, or a career stagnating or thriving.
As professionals, keeping ourselves motivated is crucial. Motivation boosts productivity and creativity. It helps us to stay focused, make progress, and get satisfaction from our work.
It also impacts how we are perceived in the workplace.
Motivated employees are often viewed as reliable, committed, and high-performing by employers and colleagues.
Moreover, motivation isn’t just beneficial for individuals.
A motivated team can achieve far more than the sum of its parts.
In the next section, we’ll explore the different types of motivation and how you can tap into them.
What is motivation?
Types of Motivation
Motivation comes in two primary flavors: intrinsic and extrinsic.
Intrinsic motivation is like an internal engine that pushes us forward because we find an activity personally rewarding.
Consider a project manager who loves the challenge of bringing together diverse teams to achieve a common goal. She doesn’t do it for praise or promotion, but because she finds genuine satisfaction in coordinating efforts and seeing a project to completion.
Or think about a software developer who spends hours debugging complex code. He isn’t doing it for applause; instead, he enjoys the intellectual challenge and the thrill of finally finding the solution.
Intrinsic motivation is at play when we do things for the sheer joy of it, the personal fulfillment, and the growth we experience.
On the other hand, extrinsic motivation is driven by external factors, rewards, or recognition.
It’s the salesperson who pushes to close more deals to earn the highest commission. It’s the customer service representative who strives for excellent performance ratings to secure a year-end bonus. It could be the office worker diligently completing tasks to avoid reprimands from their supervisor.
Even the desire for a healthier lifestyle, driven by the wish to look good on a beach vacation, is a form of extrinsic motivation.
Recognizing whether it’s the joy of the process (intrinsic motivation) or the anticipation of the reward (extrinsic motivation) that drives us can be very enlightening.
Understand these types of motivation to help you navigate work life more effectively, keeping yourself motivated and learning how to inspire others.
By knowing what motivates us, we can find greater satisfaction and success in our careers.
In the next section, we’ll explore how to tap into the power of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to maximize our professional potential.
The Psychology of Motivation
Let’s explore the science behind our motivations. Three key theories can help explain what drives us.
A. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Abraham Maslow suggested that we must fulfill our basic needs before we look after our higher needs.
Let’s consider the example of Maria, a newly hired marketing executive.
Initially, Maria’s focus might be on a stable paycheck (basic need). This allows her to afford rent, food, and other necessities. As Maria settles into her role, her focus may shift to seeking recognition from her peers and superiors (esteem needs). Later, she might start looking for fulfilling roles that reflect her inner passions and allow her to make a meaningful contribution (self-actualization needs).
As an individual contributor, Maria can:
- Identify her current level on Maslow’s hierarchy.
- Set goals that align with her current needs.
- Plan for future needs and career development.
As a manager, Maria can:
- Understand that her team members might be at different levels of Maslow’s hierarchy.
- Ensure that basic needs, like fair compensation and a safe work environment, are met.
- Help team members fulfill higher needs, like recognition and personal growth, by providing opportunities for advancement and feedback.
B. Self-Determination Theory
Psychologists Deci and Ryan emphasize autonomy, competence, and relatedness as keys to motivation.
Imagine the case of a software development company, Coding Inc. Coding Inc. encourages its staff to take ownership of their tasks (autonomy), offers regular training sessions to improve their skills (competence), and holds team-building activities to foster a sense of community (relatedness).
As an individual contributor at Coding Inc., you can:
- Seek roles or projects where you can take the initiative.
- Take advantage of training opportunities to improve your skills.
- Build relationships with your colleagues.
As a manager at Coding Inc., you can:
- Delegate tasks and trust your team to take responsibility.
- Provide training and feedback to help your team members improve.
- Foster a team culture that values collaboration and support.
C. Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory
Herzberg identified factors that prevent dissatisfaction (hygiene factors) and those that lead to satisfaction (motivators).
Consider John, a sales executive. A decent salary (hygiene factor) might not be enough to keep John satisfied. He may also need recognition for his achievements (motivator) to feel truly content at work.
As an individual contributor, John can:
- Seek a role that not only pays well but also aligns with his interests and values.
- Look for opportunities to gain recognition, such as taking on high-visibility projects.
As a manager, John can:
- Ensure that his team members are compensated fairly.
- Provide regular feedback and recognition to boost motivation.
By applying these theories, both individual contributors and managers can enhance their own motivation and the motivation of those around them.
Up next, we’ll explore more ways to leverage the power of motivation in professional settings.
Motivation Begins with Malasakit
Leaders aspire for improved productivity, superior performance, and, ultimately, increased profit. However, achieving these goals often becomes challenging due to various factors such as meeting deadlines, maintaining quality, and resource management.
So, what’s the secret ingredient to overcoming these hurdles?
It’s closer than you might think – it’s your people.
Your organization’s greatest asset is not just your fantastic product or top-notch service, but the people who make it all possible. It’s their creativity, dedication, and commitment that act as the true engine of your business.
That’s where the beautiful concept of malasakit comes into play. Malasakit is all about a profound sense of empathy and genuine concern. Embracing malasakit means putting people first, and understanding their aspirations, concerns, and dreams before discussing organizational goals.
Consider a team member who constantly stays late, working tirelessly to meet a project deadline.
A leader showing malasakit will notice this. Instead of merely appreciating the extra hours, they’d understand the potential burnout and suggest more efficient work strategies, or maybe offer flexible hours to maintain work-life balance.
Now, imagine another scenario where an employee has an unutilized skill, say graphic designing, which they love doing in their free time.
A leader practicing malasakit might create opportunities for the employee to use this skill at work, aligning personal joy with professional growth. This doesn’t just boost morale, but you’ll also see their enthusiasm reflected in their improved performance.
In a malasakit-centered culture, teams become more supportive and collaborative. They not only achieve their targets but also help their teammates to hit theirs, fostering a nurturing and high-performing work environment.
So, how can you cultivate malasakit?
One practical tool is the Empathy Map. This visual aid helps you step into your employees’ shoes, focusing on four areas: their actions, thoughts and feelings, challenges, and needs.
This deep understanding guides you to make decisions that both align with business goals and respect your people’s well-being.
Shining a spotlight on people, acknowledging their struggles, and celebrating their aspirations is not just compassionate—it’s strategic. Embrace malasakit, utilize tools like the Empathy Map, and witness how a people-centered approach propels your team and organization toward unparalleled success. Let’s make work not just a place for achieving goals, but also a space for growth and fulfillment.
Motivation is a Game-Changer
Every organization dreams of a thriving business environment characterized by buzzing productivity, top-notch performance, and soaring profits. While various strategies can be implemented to pursue these goals, one fundamental catalyst often stands out – motivation.
Let’s delve deeper into how motivation can be a game-changer for your organization.
Imagine your workplace as a well-oiled machine. Every gear perfectly aligns, moving in harmony, and the output is remarkable. This is precisely what motivation does to your workforce.
When employees are motivated, they’re more likely to take initiative, working not just hard, but smart. They efficiently use resources, reducing waste, and improving overall productivity.
Take, for example, a motivated software developer.
They’ll not just stick to their assigned tasks but might proactively optimize the code, resulting in a more efficient application. They could even automate routine tasks, freeing up time for more creative or critical work. Multiply this proactive attitude across your organization, and you’re looking at a significant boost in productivity.
Now, let’s talk about performance. Motivated employees don’t just do their jobs – they excel at them. They seek to exceed expectations, bringing in a higher quality of work. Their motivation could stem from various sources – a stimulating work environment, recognition, or opportunities for professional growth.
Consider a sales representative driven by a well-structured incentive program. This representative won’t just meet their sales targets; they’ll aim to surpass them, converting more leads, closing more deals, and providing excellent customer service.
Or think of a project manager who’s motivated by growth opportunities. They’ll ensure their projects are not just completed on time, but also meet, if not exceed, the set quality standards.
At the heart of every business endeavor lies the ultimate goal – profit.
And guess what, a motivated workforce plays an integral part in driving profits. With high productivity and performance, your organization can deliver better results, improving customer satisfaction and enhancing your brand’s reputation.
A motivated customer service team, for instance, can lead to a fantastic customer experience. Customers will be more likely to continue doing business with you, potentially increasing customer lifetime value.
A motivated workforce also reduces turnover, lowering recruitment and training costs, and thus boosting your bottom line.
Motivation isn’t just a feel-good factor; it’s a strategic tool that can significantly enhance productivity, performance, and profits.
Understand your employees’ motivations and align them with organizational goals. Foster a happier workforce and pave the way for a successful and profitable business journey.
Leaders Ignite the Spark
Motivation and leadership are two inseparable elements. They operate in a symbiotic relationship, each enhancing the other and together, driving organizational success.
Let’s explore this crucial connection more closely.
At its core, leadership is about influencing others to work towards a common goal.
But how does one inspire such collective effort?
This is where motivation steps in.
Motivation serves as the spark that ignites passion, drive, and commitment within individuals. A leader who understands and leverages the power of motivation is not merely managing their team; they’re leading them.
For example, a leader who utilizes a transformational leadership style focuses on motivating and inspiring team members to exceed their own individual performance goals and work for the greater good of the organization.
By identifying and understanding what truly motivates each team member, a leader can assign tasks that align with their team’s skills and passions, thus fostering a high level of job satisfaction and enhanced performance.
Effective leaders don’t just motivate their team; they also create an environment conducive to self-motivation.
They foster a culture of respect, autonomy, and recognition, where employees feel valued and inspired to do their best. For example, a leader who promotes a culture of continuous learning encourages intrinsic motivation, where team members are driven by their personal growth and development.
Leadership also plays a critical role in maintaining motivation during challenging times. When teams face obstacles or setbacks, it’s the leader’s role to restore morale and reignite motivation.
By providing support, demonstrating resilience, and keeping the team focused on the ultimate goal, a leader can navigate the team through tough times and maintain momentum.
On the flip side, motivated leaders are more effective.
Leaders who are motivated and passionate about their mission can spread this energy to their teams. Their enthusiasm is contagious, inspiring others to align with their vision and work diligently toward achieving shared objectives.
As a leader, harness the power of motivation so you can unlock your team’s potential, enhance productivity, and drive organizational success.
Similarly, staying motivated as a leader can elevate your influence, inspire your team, and fuel your pursuit of excellence.
The journey of personal development is a path of continuous learning, self-discovery, and growth. It’s about improving oneself, acquiring new skills, overcoming challenges, and becoming the best version of oneself.
At the center of this journey is a driving force that propels us forward, a force we know as motivation.
Let’s uncover how motivation intertwines with personal development.
Motivation serves as the fuel that powers the engine of personal development. It’s the internal force that ignites the desire to learn, grow, and evolve.
Motivated individuals don’t merely react to life’s circumstances; they proactively seek opportunities to expand their horizons, be it learning a new language, pursuing a side hustle, or mastering a new skill.
For example, someone motivated to enhance their leadership skills might invest time in reading leadership books, attending workshops, or seeking mentorship. They might take on challenging projects to test and improve their skills. Their motivation keeps them dedicated, pushing them to step out of their comfort zone and grow.
Motivation is critical in overcoming the inevitable obstacles that arise on the path of personal development. Learning new things and changing habits is often difficult and can come with setbacks.
But a motivated individual doesn’t give up. They see these setbacks as opportunities to learn and improve, which only further fuels their journey of personal development.
Someone trying to learn coding might face several challenges initially. They may struggle with complex problems, feel frustrated, or even think about quitting.
But if they’re motivated—maybe by the prospect of a rewarding career in programming, or the desire to create something innovative—they’ll persist, learn from their mistakes, and keep improving.
On the other side, personal development can also enhance motivation.
As individuals learn and grow, they build self-confidence and become more self-aware. They understand their strengths, passions, and purpose more clearly, which can further increase their motivation.
They set bigger goals, take on greater challenges, and continue their upward spiral of growth and motivation.
Motivation and personal development are intrinsically linked. Motivation drives personal development, pushing individuals to learn, grow, and overcome challenges. In turn, personal development fuels motivation, builds self-confidence, and clarifies personal goals.
This symbiotic relationship is the bedrock of continuous growth and lifelong learning.