I lost motivation the other day. I looked around and it was just gone. It felt like my dog had gotten loose and I couldn’t find him. (OK, to be fair, it actually wasn’t as bad as losing your dog. It’s just a metaphor)
Anyway I was quite disturbed to have lost my motivation (not to be confused with losing my mo jo, but that’s a different quest). Usually when I lose my motivation I spend way too much time trying to figure out why. Why, why, why? I know this can be helpful sometimes, to understand what you may have done differently. But often the quest to sift through all the variables can be daunting and lead to dubious conclusions, perhaps mistaking the final straw with the root cause. The complexity is often beyond me.
So this time I decided to not ask why. I instead focused on how to get it back, which at first led me to ask what actions should I take?
So I tried some behavior tricks.
It’s the dead of long, cold winter. I went to the Como Conservatory greenhouses and soaked in warmth and lush vegetation. I went to the coffee shop and drank warm coffee and reflected on some rally deep stuff. I consumed sublime dark chocolate to boost the dopamine. Even though I felt lifted and filled with energy, there was no motivation. Nothing.
But then I thought, what do I want to be motivated about? The actions I might take would certainly depend on the object of my motivational desire.
So I took a step back and asked what do you know about yourself that might enlighten you on this quest for motivational objects. Then it came to me as if I had turned a corner and there it was. I have often said at my job that in order to do a good job and keep me motivated I need to work on three projects. No more, no less. Three is perfect. It’s provides a balance between focusing on one topic too much and becoming bored and focusing on too many topic and becoming fractured and unproductive. Eureka! The magic of three.
And so in not asking why I discovered why. A little misdirection and I was able to sneak up on the root problem. Too many projects. The fracturing of my motivation into so many parts that they were not individually sustainable. They dissolved back into the ether.
Focus, Joe, focus. Prioritize your projects and the motivation will return. Now to pick the projects. Another effort unto itself.
Has your motivation run away? Don’t panic. Go back to the beginning. That is always a good place to start.