Motivation is a huge part of being a leader. Leaders are not only motivated themselves, but they also have to continually motivate other people. But we all know that nobody’s perfect, and we can’t all be completely on top of the game all the time.
So what happens when your motivation falters? When either you don’t want to push forward anymore, or don’t know if you can? It is bound to happen at some point, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up! Personally, I’ve found that it’s easier to handle motivational issues when I am actively trying to be more self-aware. Some things to explore when your motivation seems to go missing… What is causing your lack of motivation? Why now? Is it because you feel that you no longer believe in your project, you no longer believe in yourself, others no longer believe in you, or none of the above? Are there unrelated factors that are causing your motivation to go down? Could it possibly be a physiological cause? Do you think taking a break would help you rest up and reinvigorate you, or do you think it would cause you to sink further into your lack of motivation? What could happen that would cause your motivation to come back, and how can you work toward that? Is your current state having an impact on other people as well? Do you feel like you have gradually been burning out, or was this sudden?
And there are bunches and bunches of other questions you can explore. There’s no need to interrogate yourself all at once, but keeping questions like these in the back of your mind can help you spot solutions more easily. Also, one thing that I like to do is to look at my situation when I AM feeling particularly motivated to do something. I try to think, what happened to make me feel this way? What’s working? What factors are influencing my positive motivation more than others? Sometimes it can be hard to remember why you used to feel positively when you are currently feeling negatively, so making a mental note of why things are going well when they are might actually help you out down the road, if you do happen to start feeling drained or lacking in some way.
One thing that I have also learned about motivation—and I’m sure any young leaders can relate to—is that it comes and goes with time. We are all different, and therefore different things will make us feel more or less motivated. Some days I feel like I am on top of the world and I could do anything. I just sit at my computer and crank out e-mails, papers, readings, etc. Other days I feel like I can’t even bring myself to get out of bed and go to work, let alone do anything that requires much brain power or commitment.
Sometimes the future helps and sometimes it hurts, so be careful. When my friends or I start struggling with a lack of motivation, I know some people who always say things like, “Just look to the future; it will all be worth it in the end!” And very often that is indeed inspiring and thinking like that is how I’m able to get through some tough times. But sometimes, a lack of motivation is caused by the feeling that everything we are doing is going to fall apart in the future. If that’s the case, you may need some other positive thoughts to help you through, besides just that one. But having said that, looking for positive outcomes in the future can be a beneficial way to get through the day, if your motivation is at a lower level than usual.
A lack of motivation can be very frustrating, and can really get in the way of taking charge and becoming a leader. But it’s certainly not a reason to give up. And while everyone will have to find their own unique solution, I do believe that self-awareness can be helpful to almost anyone who is struggling. And no matter what the cause of losing your drive may be, just keep faith in yourself and know that it will come back! From my experience, it always does if you just hang in there.
-Allie, LeadHer Intern, Campus Calm®