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What gets you out of bed in the morning?

We are all motivated by different things and some of us appear more motivated than others. Read on to find out more about what really drives you so you can start the year as you mean to go on!

What is motivation?

  • “The set of forces that cause people to behave in a certain way (Steers & Porter, 1991).
  • “To give incentive to” (Collins Concise dictionary).

Some days it can be harder than others to find that incentive or motivation to get up and take action. Particularly when the festive cheer has gone and the mornings are cold and dark. January is said to be one of the most depressing months of the year and, apparently, the 24th January is going to the most depressing day of this year! Well, there’s something to look forward to!

Having said that, not all of us will get depressed on the 24th January, in fact many of us will have a fantastic day! You see, an important factor in motivation is that it is an internal process. It is not something that other people can make you do or be, it is something that you experience from the inside. Which means it is something you can control.

Think about these 3 questions for a minute:
1. How do you know when you are motivated? How does it feel, how do you act?
2. How do you know when you are not motivated? How does it feel, how do you act?
3. What impact does being motivated or being de-motivation have on you? And on those around you?

Our guess is that most of you feel better, perform better and are better to be around when you are motivated. Are we right?

New year is a great time to talk about motivation because many of us start the new year with lots of motivation and great intentions of doing things differently, forming new habits, changing something and so on. However, by the (dreaded) 24th January, many of us have started to lose that motivation and by February we have slipped back to old habits.

For us to be really motivated to give of our best it can be useful to understand what drives us, what gets those motivational juices flowing. So, here are some questions to ask yourself which will start that process. Rate each question on a scale of 1-10 (1 = not like me at all, 10 = very like me).

1. Do you enjoy having challenging goals to achieve?
2. Is advancement in your job important to you?
3. Is it important for you to receive feedback on how well you are performing?
4. Do you like to take the lead in group situations?
5. Is it important for your ideas to become part of the final decision?
6. Is it important that other people recognise your contribution to a task?
7. Is working in a team important to you?
8. Do you like to be liked at work?
9. Are harmonious relationships important to you at work?

If your ratings were highest for the first 3 questions then it is possible that you are motivated by achievement – the need to set and achieve challenging goals and to make significant progress at whatever you do.
If your rating were higher for questions 4-6, it is likely that you are motivated by power – the need to be influential, to make a significant contribution to the thinking and actions of others.
If the last 3 questions received your highest rating then affiliation is probably your main driver – the need to work in harmony with others and to be part of a team.

These 3 categories come from David McClelland’s Needs Based model of motivation*.

There is not one need category that is better or worse than the others, and you may say that at different times you are motivated by each of these categories. However, there will be one category which is a stronger driver for you and when you identify which it is, you can then look at how you might need to change what you are currently doing in order to better align your job, your goals and your approach with your motivational needs.

Being aware of your motivational need category helps you to identify if resolutions or goals you have set yourself actually work against your satisfaction of that need. For example, if your need category is affiliation and your resolution is to work from home more, you might find you lose motivation quickly because you will miss the human interaction which is so important to you. If your need category is power and your resolution is to take more of a back seat in meetings at work and let other people speak, you might find that really challenging because you need your voice to be heard.

So, here are some tips for you depending on which set of needs is most important to you:
Achievement – write a career plan outlining what your next job move might be and set yourself stretching goals to help you get there. You could work with a coach or mentor to do this and to review your progress regularly.
Power – seek out opportunities to be involved in high profile projects at work, offer to input into strategic planning discussions, you could also write something to put on the company newsletter or intranet.
Affiliation – identify tasks you can do at work which involve working with other people, organise a social event for your team, offer to mentor someone new in the team.

So, now you have an awareness of what it is that gets you out of bed in the morning and perhaps why sometimes goals or resolutions have been really difficult to stick to! You can now use the tips above to work out what, if anything, you could change this year to increase your motivation levels.

A final word on motivation, and it involves going back to one of our definitions at the beginning (“to give incentive to”), remember to reward yourself regularly. Give yourself permission to do something you really enjoy regularly so that you can maintain that incentive to get up and be as productive as you can be every day!

Good luck!

* The Achieving Society, David McClelland, 1961

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