How Long Before You Give Up? February 2, 2015Posted by utechalumni in Conversation Piece, Personal Development, Professional Development.
Tags: Cheryll Messam, Goal Setting, How to keep motivated, Motivation, Self-confidence, self-mastery, University of Technology Jamaica, UTech, UTech Alumni, Values clarification
I went to college for the first time 3 years later than my high-school cohort, because I didn’t pass my A’ level exams (a UK and Caribbean school leaving assessment) which would have gotten me straight into University. My parents couldn’t have easily afforded for me to repeat the final year of high school and re-sit those exams. I didn’t want to burden them, and in any case, I was ready to see the back of high school. So I went to work. I eventually got my first degree 10 years after I graduated high school. That would include stops-and-starts and periods of grave and fearful uncertainty. This meant that I completed college 7 years after my schoolmates who went straight to university after high school. Well today I have two degrees including a Masters; got accepted to two doctoral programs, which I didn’t pursue. I am a middle manager at the University of Technology, Jamaica a leading university in the Caribbean and owner of my own Personal & Professional Development company. The latter, being quite an unexpected but pleasant and truly rewarding change in career direction. None of this would have been true if I had given up my professional dreams when I failed those exams at the end of high school, or if I had given up when I had to stop college for two years during my first degree, with no guarantee of completion.
How do you stay motivated? What is the lubricant that keeps you moving from point A to B to C and on and on, no matter what, no matter how long it takes, until what you want to see happen, does? Which of the theories of motivation do you identify with? Perhaps motivation is instinctive for you, seemingly ingrained. You don’t need to think about it much, it is just a part of you, to decide, then take action until done. How about the role of rewards? Maybe you get things done most easily when you can see the benefit to you in achieving the goal. Perhaps you feel inspired to get things done when you feel out-of-balance in an area of your life, and that makes you uncomfortable and then drives you to do something about it until you regain your sense of balance and well-being. Alternatively, you may be cognitive in your approach to motivation. You believe life should have a certain order and hierarchy to it. You start by taking care of the basics, and then you move to the next level of achievement until you reach your ultimate goal. You are in a good place in life if you have a system that works for you to keep pulling you forward from the moment you identify and decide on what you want, through to achieving it. By contrast, so many people struggle with staying motivated and committed to completing their goals. That includes the struggle to figure out what they want in the first place, in order to define a goal worthy of their commitment and effort.
When Motivation is a Struggle
If that struggle describes you, here is what I suggest. Focus on self-knowledge. Try to get to know yourself in a data oriented way. By that I mean pull it out of your head and write it out. So get a dedicated notepad, physical or virtual. Once you get it written, this allows you to review it, and reflect on it, and prioritize it, and discuss it with others with a solution-oriented mindset versus having it swimming around in your head. In your head your thoughts have no avenue for expression. They soon bottleneck, jam-up and create a great weight which just saps your energy. Very anti-motivational, don’t you agree? As you begin to think seriously about YOU, ask yourself these questions and write out your responses.
- What do I think about most often?
- Where does my imagination take me most often?
- What topics do I gravitate to in the news media, in books, in magazines, at online sites I frequent, for online searches I conduct?
- What do I chat about the most with family, friends, colleagues?
- What makes me happy at home, at work, in my religious setting, in my neighbourhood, in my country, across the world?
- What makes me sad at home, at work, in my religious setting, in my neighbourhood, in my country, across the world?
- What are my current weekly activities?
- What do I enjoy doing?
- What do I dislike doing?
- If I was in charge and had all the resources (financial, emotional, material, human) I needed, what would I ensure was available/in place, at home, at work, in my religious setting, in my neighbourhood, in my country, across the world?
Don’t do this exercise in one sitting, spread it out over a week, taking a section at a time and giving it careful thought. This is a brainstorm, and so do not judge your answers. Just write down what comes up, and get it all out. Once you’ve answered all the sections, review what you have written and make a list of any common themes that you identify across the categories of your Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions. Once you have your short-list of common themes, for each item in your short-list, write the answer to “Why is this important to me?” This will help you to see more clearly what (your goals) truly matters to you in life and why (your values). Knowing what you want and why you want it, is key to you staying-in-action regardless of challenges, disappointments and setbacks and achieving your goals. Do leave a comment on this post and share with us what helps keep you motivated. We’d love to learn from your life experiences.
Cheryll Messam, CPC, ELI-MP
Certified Professional Life & Corporate Coach
Alumni Relations Manager
University of Technology, Jamaica
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