I just read a HBR article that opened with describing the challenges that managers have in motivating their staff. Then the author went on to explain how to create a motivating environment. It’s a good article but I think it’s important to clarify something. Shaping the environment that motivates is your manager’s job. Motivating yourself is your job. No one can do it for you. If your motivation wanes, don’t blame it on the work, the client, the manager or the firm. Look in the mirror and accept the responsibility that it’s you, not them.
Motivating yourself is difficult. You have to learn what motivates you and then develop the discipline, practices, and habits to keep yourself sharp. Otherwise, you will resort to blaming whatever and whomever, waiting for the magic unicorn to appear that will inspire you.
The more you assume responsibility to motivate yourself, the more freedom and autonomy you will experience. With it, you aren’t dependent on others to start your motor or keep it going. While it’s really nice to work in an inspiring setting, it isn’t mandatory to perform consistently. Those who require others to pave the way for them are discouraged easily, shut down easily and blame others easily.
Note: this isn’t a free pass for your leaders and managers to be negligent in creating a motivating environment. They have their responsibility. But I’m not writing to them. I’m encouraging you to be in charge of your own motivation, whether they fulfill their responsibility or not.
If you aren’t clear on your motivation drivers, get out a notepad and begin writing down when you are particularly motivated. Notice what you’re doing, for whom you’re doing it, what its completion means to you, what the personal gain is for you, etc. Soon you will be able to narrow down what sparks your personal motivation and be able to inspire yourself without having to rely on the environment others provide. You’ll be able to break through the difficult, challenging or overwhelming situations because you know how to motivate yourself. Because it’s yours to do.