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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Some Secrets to Staying Motivated

No matter what the goal, the keys to success is getting and staying motivated. Tamara Lowe, a consultant who has studied human achievement for more than 20 years has recently released her book Get Motivated! which indentified three motivational categories, each with descriptions of two contrasting types. An understanding of these concepts can help determine what drives, what is needed to be motivated, and what rewards are effective. With this understanding, getting and maintaining motivation can be improved.

The initial question to consider is “What drives you”. If your answer is competition and deadlines, you are most likely a Producer. The Producer is the classic “Type A” and has self-discipline, is competitive, and decisive. What the Producer needs when motivation is slipping is to turn the goal into a game (break a record) or a competition. If “What drives you” is collaboration, teamwork and relationships, you are more likely a Connector. Connectors put relationships first and are loyal, supportive and team players. They find personal satisfaction in making others happy and the primary challenges to staying motivated are with conflict and isolation. What is needed to maintain motivation is sustenance of relationship with others who struggle with, or has achieved a similar goal. A connector who has a goal of weight loss thrives in settings that offer group support such as Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig. A producer with the same goal would be attracted to compete on television’s The Biggest Loser.

Lowe’s second question for consideration is “What do you need to feel fulfilled?” If order, predictability and routine are needed, you are likely a Stabilizer. The Stabilizer is practical, careful, avoids analysis, and sometimes resistant to change. When motivation is challenged, a stabilizer needs to establish set rules to minimize distractions, to identify the incremental steps involved in achievement of the goal and to allow appropriate deadlines for completion and avoid negative feedback or criticism. However, if “What you need to feel fulfilled?” is adventure and new ideas, you are a Variable. Variables thrive on new experiences and novelty and find change is energizing. Relaxed schedules are ideal, surprise is welcome, and they are skilled at finding creative solutions; but variables can be impulsive and find themselves off task. When Variables find motivation slipping, it is necessary to discard rigid schedules and rules and consider alternative approaches to goal achievement and add elements of fun to the process.

The third question to consider is “What inspires you to do your best?” If your answer is appreciation and the sense of contribution, you’re an Internal. Those with an internal reward system find satisfaction from meaningful work and need to feel good about what they are doing. Internals maintain motivation with positive feedback and worthwhile goals. If the motivation slips it is necessary to reconnect with the mission and find ways to be reminded of “the big picture”. It is also necessary to nourish inner resources. This can be accomplished by journaling to refocus on the importance of the goal and by establishing good self-care skills to maintain a sense of balance. Alternatively if the response to “What inspires you to do your best?” is more tangible benefits such as recognition or salary, you are more likely an External. Externals are success –oriented and use tangible assets to measure success. They can maintain motivation by celebrating achievements with incremental rewards (a new dress with a 10 pound weight loss – rather than when the goal weight is achieved). Also acknowledging at least one way that each action is a step closer to the ultimate goal is helpful with motivation and it is important to regularly review your successes and achievements to inspire you to further aspirations.

No matter what your goal- - - better relationships, weight loss or a business achievement, by finding your individual style in what drives you, what fulfills you, and what inspires you, you can be more successful in maintaining motivation to meet your objective.

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