I am closing in on my last few weeks of my last two classes of graduate school and I am not interested. It is not that I can’t see the value or have stopped learning. It is that I am so close to the finish line, it is summer and I am exhausted. I lack motivation right now. Not the kind of lack-of-motivation that requires diagnosis from a professional, but the temporary kind that I complain about out loud with my glass of wine. And what makes it even harder is sometimes this lack motivation is at a time when I need it the most; to finish strong.
Does everyone experience this? Why does this happen? And for what reasons?
The answers are yes, because behaviors are complex and there are a variety of reasons. Some of the reasons are:
- Fear of the unknown.
- Fear of failure.
- More important things to do.
- No incentive.
- Stress overload
- …and most important, not understanding or losing sight of the value.
The items listed above, while each possible, could ultimately be linked to the last one and weighed on a scale of cost versus value. How much value is placed on the end result and is it worth the cost? The definition of motivation is the reason one has for acting or behaving a certain way. When value is connected (or sometimes not connected), the reasons become more clear. When my kids lack motivation to take out the garbage, not much value is tied to doing the chore, so to them the cost is high (teenagers are lazy). When in junior high and grades don’t relate to college yet, it is hard to have them believe in the value grades will have one day. The “one day” is just too far away and their beliefs drive behavior. The same is true for the grown-ups at work. From time to time a person just doesn’t want to go see a client or is not interested in taking a project. The cost to the employee may weigh higher in their mind when the value to the company or them personally is unknown. Recognition of the behavior is key and forming a linear line to the value of the result helps to snap a person out of the lazy space. Here are some ideas to re-motivate, be interested and get back on track quickly:
- Get on the starting line: I often try to mentally avoid exercise, until I get on the starting line. Once I am there and ready to go, I work hard! Don’t think about the whole project, program, chore, and task. Do what it takes to start…then go from there.
- Be a busy person: You’ve heard the saying, “if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.” I have never been busier than these last two years during grad school and I have never accomplished more. Kids tend to have down time, which is a good thing, but too much can promote laziness. At work, does everyone have a full day? Are they engaged in activities?
- Get organized: Any upcoming task that is being avoided will seem much more manageable if the work space or tools necessary are organized. Bonus: Being organized makes you feel good. I like this blog post on the topic.
- Refuel: Find that thing that you love to do that checks you out for a while. Positive/motivational website, pleasure reading, gardening, shopping, music, cooking or Jimmy Fallon Youtube videos like this one. Give yourself permission to fully enjoy some down time. Kids may not know how to do this, so help them with their creativity…but don’t fill in the gaps for them.
Lastly, link the value. Jump to the end result of what is currently not interesting to you and weigh the options. Is the result of exercising regularly valuable to me overall? Yes. Is continuing an exhaustive or toxic relationship with someone who doesn’t make my life better worth it? Sounds like the cost is higher than the value. Explaining to the kids that a clean home that they get to grow up in (plus consequences) has a higher value than the cost of doing the chore. And, persevering for 4.5 more weeks to reach the overall goal of a MBA definitely has value. A lot of value!
Give yourself a break, take a break and then start again.