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Why do you become unmotivated in a job you like?
I have met many leaders in the past years and most of them have lost their motivation at some point in their professional life, they just weren’t feeling happy anymore or felt tired. Since getting back motivation, while still having an impact, is Valérie’s specialty, we met up and talked about it. I asked her the question of why it so often happens that people don’t feel happy anymore and think about quitting their job because of a lack of motivation. She told me the following:
We often think that money, recognition, or a good title gives us the motivation to work, but research by Canadian professor Jacques (link below) has shown that the two main drivers of motivation, are purpose and pleasure. So when people lose their motivation, it is almost always because one of these elements is lacking.
The advice Valérie gave is to do a yearly (or monthly if you feel it is necessary) check-up to ask yourself these three questions: do you have pleasure in your work life? Do you find purpose at work? And do you give your work the right place in the life you desire; does your work match with the life you would like to lead?
An approach to identify your motivators and regain pleasure and purpose in your job.
One of the projects that Valérie has been doing for almost five years is a workshop called: Eight weeks to get back your motivation, or really decide to change jobs. In eight weeks, she builds on understanding the three fundamental things to regain motivation: the purpose, the pleasure, and the place of the job in your life. Most people struggle to find time to think about their motivation or think they have no choice but to work because they depend on it financially or simply are too afraid to lose it. This course helps you make time and makes you understand that you do have a choice. So why are we so afraid to make that choice?
The fears of changing jobs
Valérie talked about desire being key in getting back your motivation. The problem with most leaders is that they are too afraid to explore those desires and dreams. They know what they are good at, what their competencies are, and what they are praised for at work. That doesn’t always mean that they get pleasure out of doing what they are good at. But the consistency and habits keep them from changing jobs. For those people, I asked Valérie what advice she would give them. She said you have to change your mindset and focus on the things you like and trust in your ability to adapt, instead of focussing on the things you are good at, and that give you security, because those things can tire you out easily.
Another helpful tip to evaluate your motivation progression
Another really helpful tip Valérie gave me was to make a timeline of your career. Draw a horizontal line and above it, write down all the moments when you had a lot of energy, where you felt proud of yourself and felt good. Now below the timeline, write down the moments when you felt anxious, or sad, the times when you had no energy and felt frustrated. Now try to look at the overall picture and see how your motivation evolved. The last thing to do is to see the bigger picture: what happened at the time your feelings towards work changed? Try to get a good understanding of why things went wrong when they did.
Many people only have secondary motivators & lose their energy then
Valérie introduced me to a concept I hadn’t heard of yet: primary and secondary motivators. Primary motivators are things that you like doing just for the sake of doing them. Secondary motivators you don’t necessarily enjoy doing, but these are things that you do to get the impact you want to be able to have and enjoy. For example, dancing could be a primary motivator: you simply like to dance, it gives you energy and you feel happy when you are doing it. But drafting Excel sheets maybe isn’t the thing you enjoy doing, although it leads you to a better overview for achieving the things that do motivate you. This is a prime example of a secondary motivator.
The problem with most adults in professional life, is that they have become too good and too focused on secondary motivators: yes, in the end, you might achieve a desirable goal, but at what cost? You might spend less time with your friends and family and feel stressed out… By putting your attention on primary motivators and simply doing the things that motivate you directly, you will start feeling motivated again. This takes some work, but with some practice (or some help from Valérie’s course), you can do it!
What is your desired work life?
Another thing I wished I had done way earlier is to check with myself every so often: what is the work-life I would want today? What are the values I have that come with that? Because a lot of people (I and Valérie included) have had a dream or desire when they were starting their career to achieve some goals in the future and have not stopped working towards that goal they had when they were younger. The issue is that… well… your desires and values change! Most leaders are so busy working towards their goal they had set years ago, that they forget to see what they want in the present. This is the last tip that Valérie and I have for you for this podcast. You can achieve what you want in the present by simply taking the time to ask yourself the question and write down the answers.
PS 1: If you enjoyed the content of this podcast, be sure to subscribe!
PS 2: If you feel that Valérie’s course to gain back your motivation is something for you and you speak French, feel free to visit her website below!