• Carla Collis Gesite

How to Get Back on Track When You're Not Feeling Motivated

At the beginning of the year, you were gung ho about your goals. Couldn't wait to tackle them!

Somewhere along the way, though, you lost that enthusiasm.

And you're not making the progress toward your goals that you'd hoped.

First off, let me remind you -- that's okay! In fact, it's to be expected.

We'd like the journey toward a goal to be a straight line, but it seldom is. Oh, we'll stay on course for a while. But then we get distracted and feel discouraged and lose our momentum.

What to do? According to Simon Sinek, a top leadership guru, you should start with "Why." (You can see his popular talk on the subject here: https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action?language=en)

A Process to Examine Your "Why"

When your motivation wanes, go directly to your "why." Go deep with it:

-Why did I set this goal?

-Why is that important?

-And why is that important?

-And why is that important?


You want to get to the ultimate "why" (or benefit) of achieving your goal. Once you do, ask yourself,

Is my "Why" big enough?

If your "why" isn't compelling enough, then you're not going to be committed to reaching your goal. It's easy to find excuses when we don't want to do something, right?

Once you examine your "why," you may decide it is big enough -- you just need to keep it at the forefront so you'll keep the momentum going. Or you may decide your "why" isn't big enough. In that case, either rework the goal or abandon it altogether -- because you're not going to be motivated to reach it otherwise.

An Example

When a client commits to an action but continually doesn't follow through, I suggest we revisit her "why." Maybe it turns out it's a goal she doesn't truly want to pursue -- at least for the time being. Take Amy (not her real name).

For quite a while, Amy had wanted to ask her boss for a promotion, but fear kept getting in the way. We talked about why she wanted the promotion, came up with a plan, and she began to execute it. We discussed the many reasons she deserved a promotion (e.g., repeated reviews of "exceeds expectations", additional responsibilities she'd taken on, tenure with the company, etc.) She put together a dashboard showing her most important contributions to the firm. We role-played various scenarios to prepare her for the unexpected. She set a meeting with her manager. When they met, though, she didn't pull the trigger. And this happened multiple times.

Amy had seemed so motivated, confident, and excited about the plan we came up with. I had no doubt she was going to secure her promotion -- and soon! Puzzled, I suggested we revisit her "why."

  • Why did she set the goal? So my title & pay are in line with my responsibilities

  • Why is that important? It's the right thing to do, it's fair.

  • And why is that important? It'll show respect for my contributions...

  • And why is that important? I feel better when my contributions are recognized.

  • And why is that important? I enjoy my work more.

The ultimate "why" was that getting the promotion would result in her enjoying her work more.

Given how much time she spent at work, enjoying it more would be a big payoff. With that as her focus, her confidence was boosted. She went to her boss, asked for the promotion, and received it!


Next time you find your motivation waning, take a good long look at your "why."

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