The beginning of another year can be a bit overwhelming and demotivating. The lights only just came down from the roof, while the neighbor seems to have already completed spring cleaning, trained for a marathon, and clearly doesn’t face the same credit card bills given the new car gracing the driveway. There is not a handicap large enough to make up that difference, so why even bother? We know that we should have high expectations for the year ahead, but by now it’s February and life is real and demanding and on occasion really difficult. Resolutions and personal development shrink to make room for other requirements of time and energy. So how do you motivate people who are facing another year of change, continuous improvement, and the always-growing stretch goals?
Last year I was fighting tonsil cancer. I survived the torture of surgery and 6 weeks of radiation, only to be overwhelmed by the daily challenge of eating enough calories to keep my body healthy sans feeding tube. I would start the day with my treatment and then I would begin to climb “my mountain” as I called it. The mountain of calories with a summit of 2,500, compounded by the bizarre radiation effect of tasteless food. Just texture and temperature, no flavor. How did I find motivation and how can the same principles be applied to propel you and your team through another successful year?
Some simple places to start:
- Set short term goals and work your tail off to hit them. Make them realistic and achievable. You need a partner, friend, coworker or boss who knows your goals and will be ready to celebrate with you when you achieve them, and hold you accountable when you slip. My wife was my cheerleader, cook, and she would be honest with me on my progress each day. She had the confetti and air horn ready for my 2,500-calorie summit and was the first one to push me when my determination waned. (My kids would also help her in these tasks.)
- Look past the obstacles of the day. Now is the time to start dreaming about the family summer vacation at the lake, the goal of adding a pool to the backyard, or catching a game with a friend. Make plans that include fun and are beyond the work. We need to work to live, but we should not live to work. Find a healthy blend of the two and do your best to separate them from each other. Notice I did not say “healthy balance.” Balance implies equality, and they are not necessarily season-to-season.
- Ask yourself a very important question each day. “What do I need to do today to stay motivated and hit my goals?” Your brain is an expert at solving problems, and will apply its magic to this question lead you to rock your world. Ask this question one to two times each day. Do not confuse this question with. “Why am I not motivated and not making my goals?” This might sound like an interchangeable question, but one leads to solutions and an action plan. And the other to excuses. Do not fall into the trap of the latter.