Originally published at Programme Eve.
Motivation is a highly nuanced concept which can be applied to different contexts, such as teamwork, the performance of individual employees, or other more personal spheres of life. In each of those areas, one is usually either motivated or not. When people lack motivation, they often blame external factors or situations. This is similar to seeming oneself as a victim. But to have a well-balanced life and continuous personal development, one has to start by understanding the crucial role of motivation.
Moving forward step by step
What most people keep forgetting is that one’s ultimate goal is linked to the key ingredient of motivation, which we can call the big ‘WHY’. Sometimes, a WHY is not sufficient if it is not powerful enough to give one the drive to take the first step towards that goal. When the going gets tough, the nagging questions of self-doubt begin. This is where a powerful WHY is needed to counter these questions.
One personal illustration is the online platform that I started earlier this year. I realized that I could achieve and contribute so much more in terms of helping people outside working hours and this would give my life meaning and fulfillment. After working out my big WHY, I started planning, working with a coach, learning new skills like website design, blog writing, and networking. I also attended events, gave talks, advised people, and took on more activities to get my message out there. It was challenging because all this came on top of a full-time career and family life; but it was so gratifying and meaningful to know that people were learning something from what I did. This is the powerful WHY that keeps me going today.
Motivation and personal growth are intimately linked. The latter involves learning and developing new life skills necessary for leading a productive, satisfying and successful life.
To give one example: I was recently invited to join a panel discussion at the Asian Women Leadership Summit in Shanghai on the topic of “The Importance of Sponsorship and Mentorship”. We talked about sponsorship and mentorship programs in companies that find and promote female talent in their organizations. It is unfortunate that not all companies have them.
When sponsorship and mentorship programs do not work in a company, the question arises as to how it is possible to grow professionally and climb the ranks. It is definitely not easy. Although there can be no doubt that employers share in the responsibility of their employees’ professional growth, one’s own development should not have to depend entirely on the conditions of one’s employment. One can start by finding a mentor or a coach outside work. Any new skills, knowledge or experience we acquire elsewhere are guaranteed to improve our professional performance. As Hilary Hinton Ziglar, the American self-help author famously put it, “Success happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
Motivation involves choice. If something can be seen as an opportunity to explore, to learn and to actualize one’s potential, the decision to seize that opportunity must come from within. That choice is inspirational and motivating.
We all have different views about life fulfillment. In the end, most of us want to be healthy and happy, so we work hard to exercise, eat sensibly, and control stress levels to stay healthy in mind and body. The following five aspects are essential for a well-balanced life: relationships, career, health and fitness, finance, and personal development and the key to all this is the motivation to change. There is always a point in our lives when we realize that we need to change our habits, behaviors and lifestyle. Whether the change is made or not depends on the level of motivation. Therefore, understanding the degree and form of motivation and various ways to increase it is important because change is not a singular event but rather a multiple process that gradually unfolds over time. During this process, new behaviors that generate small wins will build confidence and bring enjoyment, reinforcing the positive cycle. If this does not happen, it is important to go back to the start and think about the incentive for change, or the big WHY, to arrive at a new understanding of the motivation for change and initiate a new positive cycle.
As William Shakespeare wrote, “We know what we are, but not what we may become.” We might understand this to mean that our potential is always there to be realized as long as we recognize the driving force for change of motivation.