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Unlocking the Power of Personal Motivation: Strategies for Success When You Just Don't Want To

As professionals, we've all been there - the feeling of dread that comes with facing a daunting task or the lack of motivation to tackle a project that seems insurmountable. It's easy to get caught up in the daily grind and lose sight of our goals, or worse, feel like we're just going through the motions. But what if we could break free from this cycle and reignite our passion for our work? The answer lies in unlocking our personal motivation.

Today we will explore strategies for overcoming a lack of motivation and cultivating a mindset that drive success.

Identify Your Why

Before we dive into strategies, it's essential to understand the foundation of personal motivation - our "why." Our "why" is the reason we get out of bed in the morning, the purpose that drives us, and the passion that fuels our work. According to Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why, "People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it." (Sinek, 2011) Understanding our "why" gives us a sense of direction, helps us stay focused, and provides the motivation to push through challenges.

To discover your "why," ask yourself:

  • What are my core values and beliefs?

  • What problem am I trying to solve in my work?

  • What impact do I want to make?

  • What gets me excited about my work?

Set Meaningful Goals

Once you have a clear understanding of your "why," it's time to set meaningful goals. Goal-setting is a powerful tool for motivation, but it's essential to set goals that align with your "why." Meaningful goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). They should also be challenging enough to inspire growth but not so daunting that they become discouraging.

For example, instead of setting a goal to "be more productive," set a goal to "increase productivity by 20% within the next 6 months by implementing a time management system and prioritizing tasks based on importance and urgency."

Create a Positive Work Environment

Our work environment plays a significant role in our motivation. A positive work environment can inspire creativity, foster collaboration, and enhance productivity. Here are some ways to create a positive work environment:

  • Declutter your workspace: A cluttered workspace can contribute to feeling overwhelmed and unproductive. Take the time to organize your workspace, and make it visually appealing.

  • Add plants: Plants not only purify the air, but they also create a calming atmosphere.

  • Incorporate ergonomic furniture: Invest in ergonomic furniture that promotes comfort and reduces eye strain.

  • Play music: Music can boost mood and productivity. Create a playlist that motivates you and helps you focus.

Eliminate Distractions

Distractions are productivity killers. They can derail our focus and hinder our progress. Here are some ways to eliminate distractions:

  • Turn off notifications: Turn off notifications on your phone, computer, or any other device that can distract you from your work.

  • Use a website blocker: Tools like Freedom or SelfControl can block distracting websites for a set period, helping you stay focused.

  • Schedule breaks: Schedule breaks throughout the day to recharge and refocus.

Practice Self-Care

Self-care is essential for maintaining motivation. It's challenging to be productive and motivated when we're exhausted, stressed, or burned out. Here are some self-care strategies:

  • Exercise: Regular exercise can boost energy levels, reduce stress, and enhance cognitive function.

  • Meditation: Meditation can help calm the mind, increase focus, and promote relaxation.

  • Sleep: Adequate sleep is crucial for productivity and motivation. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

Seek Accountability

Another way to seek accountability is to join a community of like-minded individuals who share your goals and values. This could be a mastermind group, a networking group, or even an online community. Share your goals and progress with the group, and ask them to hold you accountable. This can provide an added motivation to stay on track, as you won't want to disappoint your peers.

Finally, consider hiring a coach or mentor who can provide guidance and accountability. A coach can help you set and achieve your goals, and provide support and encouragement along the way.


Staying motivated and achieving our goals requires a combination of the right mindset, habits, and support systems. By implementing the strategies outlined in this article, you'll be well on your way to staying motivated and achieving your goals. Remember to celebrate your successes along the way, and don't be too hard on yourself when you encounter setbacks. With persistence, determination, and the right support, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.


Jonathan H. Westover, PhD is Chief Academic & Learning Officer (HCI Academy); Chair/Professor, Organizational Leadership (UVU); OD Consultant (Human Capital Innovations). Read Jonathan Westover's executive profile here.



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