"No one can motivate you to do anything. You motivate yourself based on information you receive and how directly you can relate it to your own potential achievement."
If you ever suffered from depression, finding the motivation, purpose or drive to get out of bed—let alone have a productive day—can seem impossible at times. For others, the daily ritual of starting the work day can run a gamut of emotions; from anticipation and excitement to apprehension and dread. Add fear, unemployment, school closures, isolation, protests, riots and the daily grind of life to the mix, finding motivation to do anything can feel impossible.
Have you ever asked yourself, “What motivates me to give my very best each day?” Is it money? Is it appreciation? Is it the people you work with? Is it the customers you serve or service to others? Is it the feeling of accomplishment? We all are motivated by one or a combination of reasons that stimulates the reward chemical in our brain that pushes us to act.
Many of you may have heard of the book, The 5 Love Languages written by Gary Chapman. It’s a relationship book about learning how to communicate with your partner in a way that makes them feel loved. Chapman lists five different love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. According to Chapman, the key to a successful relationship is the ability to identify and express the love language that best meets the needs and expectations of your partner.
So, let’s go back to the question I started with, “What motivates you to give your very best each day?” Does your answer include any of the love languages? (Let’s go ahead and leave out physical touch for obvious reasons). The expression of love that we respond best to from a partner can be very similar to what motivates us to give our best each day in other aspect of our life, including work.
For example, my primary love language is words of affirmation; meaning that I am motivated by praise, acknowledgement, recognition and words of encouragement. I’m not too proud to admit it. I’m needy. I also feel motivated through motivating others. Nothing has made me wake up more excited about coming to work than knowing that I have the opportunity to serve and motivate YOU. Being able to identify my love language allows me the opportunity to communicate my needs to others and also be an active participant in creating rewarding work.
We usually don’t think of motivation as our responsibility to create. We typically assume it comes from an external place that we have no control over. It’s just not true. The following are a few examples of the different love languages and how you can take control of your own motivation:
1. Words of Affirmation- If you need words of encouragement, feedback, praise and acknowledgement— then hand them out yourself. The more you spread positivity and take the time to praise others, the more likely that people will do the same for you when the time comes. Ask your supervisor if you can add a “shout out” agenda item to every staff meeting. Be the voice that changes the corporate culture. When someone does something great, tell them. Better yet, tell their supervisor.
2. Quality Time- To feel motivated, you may need additional direction, coaching and bonding time with your supervisor. Take the initiative and ask your supervisor if you can have regular face time. They don’t know what you need until you tell them. Or perhaps you work better in a team and get motivated by regular brainstorming sessions. Ask your supervisor if you can lead weekly or monthly team-building, idea sharing or getting-to-know you activities with your co-workers.
3. Acts of Service- If serving customers or others is what motivates you, make sure you apply for organizations whose Mission it is to serve and/or job positions where you get to directly serve customers. Often times, people will promote or take a position for the pay and quickly realize it’s the wrong fit and their motivation and performance suffers. Volunteer for company committees or organize and lead a company-wide volunteer day.
4. Receiving Gifts- Monetary reimbursement might be what motivates you and/or makes you feel appreciated. To some, compensation equals appreciation, accomplishment and success. It could also mean you feel appreciated through incentives, recognition awards, appreciation gifts or bonuses. If this is your love language, one way to create motivation for yourself would be to communicate with your supervisor your interest in promoting. You must take an active approach. Don’t assume leaders know your ambitions. Also, volunteer for committees, attend leadership training and ask for a mentor in the position you have your eye on.
I’m going to challenge you today to find what truly motivates you and take control and ownership over getting that need met. Ultimately, we only have control over our emotions, actions, dreams and passion. I've been guilty my entire life of relying on others to make me happy, feel loved and feel good enough. No one will be more motivated to do good by you than— YOU.
Let's embrace Mondays, and everyday, with excitement. We will do it together, each Monday —for a moment.