Summer is well under way and it is hard to believe that we are half way through the year. If you are like me, with the sun warming the sky, and the vacation season here, you may be find that you and your team’s motivation has waned.
The same drive to complete the goals you set at the start of the year may be fading, or you’ve lost sight of them altogether. You are likely concerned that if you don’t push through the summer months, you could be in for more overwhelm when the busyness of the fall season approaches.
As the leader of your team, you may be asking yourself, “How can I help my team stay motivated to meet our goals, even when their minds are on vacation – whether its getting ready for vacation, getting caught up from vacation, or getting the proper team coverage for their vacation?”
Well, I am here to remind you that there is a distinct difference between motivation and discipline!
When you begin something new and exciting you may be like many of my clients and think thoughts like: “This is going to be great!” or, “I am really looking forward to this.”
Eventually, the results don’t come fast enough, or you get overwhelmed by the work it will take to achieve them. Bottom-line, when your motivation wanes, your guilt level increases, time ticks closer to the deadline, and that can feel very draining!
The reality is, when we set our sights on a goal, there will be times when we JUST DON’T FEEL LIKE DOING what needs to be done!
July and August are months when you may be tempted to throw caution to the wind and slow down your progress. I encourage you not to do this and instead examine where you and your team are at now in reaching your goals and what you still need to do. Then, identify new habits you can put in place to help you get there.
Jim Rohn stated, “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” In other words, when motivation fails you, disciplined habit can save you.
Think about this for a moment. Even when you desire a certain result, you don’t always want to do the work you know it will take to get you there. But, if you do the thing, and make it a trackable, disciplined habit, you can measure your effort, and this can motivate you to continue while you work towards your desired result.
Set yourself and the team up for success by doing these two things:
Firstly, chunk down your goal.
As an example, a human resources team I supported, needed to integrate two businesses into an upgraded payroll and human resources information system. They also needed to roll out an entirely new benefits program to the company’s 1200 employees.
What I encouraged this team to do, was to chunk down this six-month project into different phases. This enabled them to focus on the action steps needed to be done to complete the first phase of the fully-scoped project. As I like to tell my clients when they are overwhelmed by a big hairy project, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Not that I’ve ever tried one!
By focusing on the phase of the project that needed to be done first, this team was able to be on purpose with their actions. It enabled them to reduce the overwhelm the team felt when the whole project was staring them in the face. They now only had to focus on one part of the project, and that made their work lives much easier. Amazing what a small shift in perspective can accomplish.
Good visuals can also help keep you on track. This team did exactly that! They created a visual that represented each key phase of the project, as well as the start and end date for each phase. By working through one phase of the project at a time, they were able to direct their energy to the actions and deadlines in front of them and ignore the rest. They were able to build their confidence in learning the new system and apply this learning to the next phase of the project.
Secondly, help your team create small actionable habits so that on days when you’re less than enthusiastic, you will make good decisions to move forward towards your goal.
I often suggest to my coaching clients, that they follow the advice of the behavioural expert, B.J. Fogg to develop a habit that supports them in reaching their goals. Fogg suggests these three steps:
- Form a new habit in baby steps. Ask yourself, what is one small habit you can adopt? Perhaps it is for you and the team to set aside one hour per day or two hours per week to work on a goal. This now becomes a simplified way for you to track and evaluate your progress towards your goal.
- Identify an anchor. Think about something that you do now that can prompt you and your team to act on this new habit. As an example, after your weekly team meeting, team members block off two hours to work on goal related actions. The key is that you perform your disciplined habit AFTER you complete something you do already.
- Celebrate small wins. Each time the team completes this new habit, reward yourselves in some small way. Engage in a team high-five, or treat your team to a cookie break, or even put a gold star or happy face on a “goal calendar” that all team members can see. By simply acknowledging your completion of the act, it will fuel your motivation to make this a habit.
The masterful painter, Van Gogh said, “Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”
It isn’t impulsive moments of inspiration that will help you achieve your goals and cement new habits. Rather, the accomplishment you feel when you and the team make incremental progress towards your goals.