We have this saying in the education world…is it the skill or is it the will. What does that mean? I can teach you to teach…any skill you need, any instructional strategy. But you have to be willing to do it, willing to care to make a difference in your teaching and for your students. Basically, you have to be motivated to put in the time to learn and the effort to implement to get a better result.
This week, I have been thinking about motivation. More so, being motivated when things are not going your way. We all know that life is hard and everyone will experience their fair share of good days and challenging days. Some days, for me, I feel like things just fall into place without me having to put in a whole lot of effort, and then there are those days that I feel I am wracking my brain each second of the day to figure out what to do next…and that can be exhausting! That is when I know I need my own inner motivation to kick in and keep me working toward the solution and not giving up or giving in.
Here is what I notice about myself…a few things give me a burst of momentum when working on challenging situations and helps me build motivation. I know when I am excited about a new opportunity or project, I feel that burst of adrenaline that makes me want to get started and get moving toward the end result. I also know that as I am working on something, when I see things start to work…staying focused on the wins…I tend to stay focused and motivated to get to the next step. I also know that I like to problem solve and when something clicks during the process, it makes me feel like I am succeeding and motivated to keep going.
Teaching is a challenging gig…and keeping students motivated is one of the biggest obstacles. I always found when I was a classroom teacher, when a student felt a little piece of success, they would tend to try harder and keep working toward finishing whatever they were working on without quitting or giving up. I also know that kids need a cheerleader along their side. They need someone to encourage them, push them in a way that doesn’t overwhelm them, and someone who is even more excited about their success than they are.
Adults are a lot the same. Who wouldn’t want these supports when working on something hard? For some, intrinsic motivation comes naturally, but for so many others, it that extrinsic motivation that those around them need to provide to validate their effort and keep them motivated to succeed. Of course, as adults, especially those of us working on our own self-improvement, we may not have those supports by our sides. So, then we encounter the question, how do we motivate ourselves to keep going, staying motivated to accomplish our goals in life when no one is cheering us on? Let’s think about this for a moment.
- Having an action plan when working on something is very helpful. It keeps us on track and outlines the steps we need to take to successfully complete the task at hand. I always include milestones built into my plans for celebrations. And, I include what I will celebrate. For example, as I train each year for the half marathon, I have my plan for weekly runs, meals, and sleep schedule. Each week, if I complete the miles, I allow myself an extra treat. When I do a 5 mile run without an excess of walk breaks, I get myself a new piece of running clothing. Little things add up and I know I sure do get excited all by myself when I hit those milestones!
- I have recently started a new project and I find that momentum really does make a difference. I launched a membership at 2:00 one afternoon and by 4, I had two members. Not a huge number, but more than I expected that soon! Just the notification email made me excited and caused me to message my daughter to share that success…of course with a smile on my face. Knowing that you are getting one step closer, even a small step, made me know that what I am doing, although hard, is doable…and that made my own motivation soar!
- Of course, if someone provides me with feedback in regard to what I am working on, that really increases my motivation…but in the event that doesn’t happen, I reflect on my own work and dig into what worked, what did I learn from the experience, and what should I adjust to make it stay on track. This can be a bit harder to keep your motivation up, but once you do this a few times and it becomes more natural, it really helps in staying on track when projects can be a challenge.
Motivation is truly a huge factor in the success of anyone. Finding ways to get on a path of giving you your own intrinsic motivation will surely help you on your journey. That way, when those little nuggets of extrinsic motivation come along, it really is just an added bonus! Until next time! Cheri ❤️
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