Its times like this that we need to stay motivated but it is also times like this that we feel like our world is spinning and shaking us from all directions. Firstly, we need to recognise that this is ok. Motivation is not on tap in a regular and constant stream. It gets knocked around, changes direction and it needs attention. We need to find balanced positions and stay motivated both for ourselves and for our teams. There are some strategies and tricks to keep the momentum moving forward.
1. Set a goal and make it visual right down to the most minute level of detail.
You probably know what you want but maybe the plan is nor concrete enough. Have you ever craved a meal so much that you can almost taste it, in advance. Ideally our goals should be that vivid. Set the goal and be so clear about it that every detail is as vivid as you can possibly imagine. That happens best when we get down to the finer parts. Write it down not just in a title. Describe it, explain it, make a narrative so clear that it plays in your head like a movie. The smell of a new car, the hand shake of a new deal, the smile on the face of your family, the increased heart rate and your own smile in the mirror when you achieve the goal.
2. Make a clear list of every reason you want to achieve the goal.
You may know the “what” but do you know the “why.” I was once asked where I see myself in 10 years time. My answer was a specific job title and a specific location. My mentor responded by saying “What is it about that position that you want?” That question helped me clarify the “why” in much more detail. My next answer described the actual daily behaviours, skills and impacts I wanted to employ. I wanted “to lead and influence large groups of people in ways that contributed positively to even larger groups”. It was important “to leave a legacy by developing capacity in other people.” She helped me realise that what I was looking for could be found in many more locations, industries and contexts than I had previously thought. I was also much more motivated by a focus on the behaviours and interactions of that profile than the generic profile of that position, described in a title.
3. Break every goal down into much smaller pieces then set medium range targets — and rewards.
When we break the goal into smaller pieces we can target what is required more specifically. We get motivated because we can see the potential result of a smaller step in contrast to a broad intangible plan. “I want to get fit” is a broad goal that is hard to be motivated by. “I will put on my exercise gear at 9.00am” might seem like a small step but in fact that is how small we need to get. It is the step before you exercise. “I will schedule an appointment with XXXXX to discuss new strategies for the project” is another small step towards the bigger goal. I spoke about this in one of my recent podcasts, Leadership Behaviours – How to make them Unconscious Habits. We need to almost swarm the larger goals with many small behaviours. Many smaller actions contribute to the bigger plan. Then set a reward. It might be a nice coffee or even just a quiet punch in the air behind your closed office door. Reward the action though in some way.
4. Have a clearly planned strategy, but be prepared to change the course and direction if required.
Be courageous, determined and focussed but stay flexible. Strong leaders also face obstacles but they know different pathways may be required. The need to change direction needs to be framed in a positive way. “I am glad we were able to change direction and target this in a different way.” Find motivation in being challenged to adapt. Be ready for an alternative plan. The latest fad word is for leaders to “pivot.” Whatever the case reframe change and obstacle as opportunity to create and embrace a new plan.
5. Get all the help you need across your network.
Sometimes we assume leadership is about being courageous on our own. We might think that we have to control all the ideas and the input. That is just not true. Great leaders harness the talents and ideas of others and they seek help and input regularly. Support will fuel your motivation and encourage you. It is like an extra motor on a boat. Why rely just on one when your team and network can assist.
6. Pre-plan how you will deal with flagging motivation or challenges to momentum.
Research, and even just our daily awareness, tells us that motivation ebbs and flows. It comes in waves. Obstacles may make those waves bigger but you should know that motivation is not constant. We need a plan to deal with the slower times and ways to stay up. conversations with others, music, exercise and whatever you know fuels your energy should be planned for. Maybe you have a podcast or speaker that brings you energy. Maybe there is a strategy that works best for you including a revisit of pen to paper on that plan.
7. Continually check in with your core reasons for moving forward.
As a child my family believed strongly in goal setting. We put pictures on the fridge that represented the goals we wanted to achieved. These images hit us in the face many times throughout the day as a constant reminder of what fuels us and what was important. Sometimes the image was something we wanted to buy. Sometimes the image represented a feeling, a holiday and fun experience. Our brain is not clear about the difference. We see something and it changes our heart rate, our mood and our feelings. This is motivation and it is important to keep the fires burning on these goals. It helps us with the “why.”
8. See the Bigger Picture and the Grand Plan
We can easily get distracted by the smaller details and the small bumps in the road. When we look down rather than out into the distance we literally lose our vision. You might have a small conflict with one person or they place a barrier in your path but that does not represent the full story. Our life mission is broad, then broken down into small parts. It is not the other way around. When we say it is important to break our plans into small details that does not mean the detail replaces the bigger picture or grand vision or mission. You may get there in different ways or with different strategies than you expected. If you focus only on the small steps you may miss the different pathways and their reasons, that ultimately help you achieve the grand plan.
I guarantee you probably don’t know how close you are! Feed your motivation and keep walking forward! We are all in this together!
Check out Greg’s podcast of the same title: How to Stay Motivated When Your World is Spinning
GSE is here to help you!
CEO and Education Expert Greg Parry
Internationally renowned for his expertise in education leadership, Greg Parry’s vast experience includes leadership of projects for edu-cation institutions throughout Australia, the Middle East, the United States, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and China. Recognised for his numerous contributions in the education arena, Greg has received the Ministers Award for Excellence in School Leadership based on improvements in school performance and a range of successful principal training and leadership development programs, as well as the School of Excellence Award for Industry/School Partnerships and the School of Excellence Award for Technology Innovation. His company GSE (Global Services in Education) has been recognised as having the Best Global Brand in International Education in 2015 and 2016.
Considered one of the premier experts in his profession, Greg has trained teachers and principals throughout the world in areas such as critical thinking, language development and leadership. His expertise in school start up projects, leadership and curriculum development, has made him a sought after authority in these disciplines.
Global Services in Education set up and operate schools in all parts of the world. Governed by a philosophy of global citizenship, every member of the GSE team shares a passion to help shape international education and student achievement through inspiration and collaboration.
Our goal is to meet the highest objectives of every school, teacher, student and parent, with an unwavering dedication to quality education, shared ideals and intercultural perspectives.