This post was anonymously written as part of Blog Secret Santa. There’s a list of all Secret Santa posts, including one written by Helen Blunden, on Santa’s list of 2013 gift posts.
As the end of the year approaches, I always take stock of my successes and opportunities for personal and professional growth. I’m sure I’m not alone.
So I got to thinking, how will I make 2014 my best year yet? I determined it comes down to two important things: understanding my motivations and how I can sustain change in 2014.
Motivation and change
Trying new things requires courage. It involves leaving the comfort of regular routines and pushing past discomfort to take on risk. It means growing and approaching situations from a different perspective.
Whether it’s a project at work, an exercise program, or that stack of half-read books beside your bed, we’re often motivated at the start but run out of steam somewhere in the middle. Things shift. We lose motivation.
The impact of timing
Research from Miguel Brendl, Andrea Bonezzi, and Matteo De Angelis from the Kellog School of Management helps to explain why we lose the “oomph” when pursuing a goal.
When something is new, we get excited and we are highly motivated. We see endless possibilities and we share the goal with other people. It’s what I like to call the honeymoon stage of change.
In the middle, our attention shifts. This shift, according to the researchers is called attentional shift. It’s no longer about the results, but how far we have to go.
This results in a U shaped pattern of motivation:
In a business context, the bottom of the curve is where there are the greatest opportunities for insight. It’s where we can generate the most relevant ideas, but it requires the highest degree of communication. It’s also the most challenging. When people start to drift, meetings are less of a priority and everything feels like a struggle.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be difficult.
How to keep things on track for 2014
For your projects:
Visual Project Progress
Making a visual representation by task and work completed can help tip the scale in the right direction. Frequent project progress reports can help work-groups stay motivated.
Build a Personal Learning Network
A Peer Learning Network can also provide support and motivation to help you move through the bottom of the curve. They help you to focus on how far you’ve come (by acknowledging successes) and help you reach your end goal.
On a personal front:
Form new habits
Habits are formed through context-dependent repetition. That is, each time you perform a certain activity it’s linked to a series of behaviours. For example, when the alarm clock goes off (context), your response to the context is working out. Each time you perform that behaviour, the link strengthens to the point a habit is formed.
Habits can help to reduce the mental load of making decisions and choosing certain behaviours. They stick around because they are automatic and routine and they don’t require additional thought. Great habits can create great results.
Although many of us believe it takes 21 days to form a habit, research from Ben D Gardner Sood indicates it takes longer than that. Consistently choose the right work behaviour and a new habit will form. The best estimate is actually 66 days, but it’s dependent on what you are trying to do.
P.S. For those of you with New Year’s resolution, you have up to March 6th to form that habit. 🙂
What about you? How do you plan to learn and stay motivated in 2014? I’d love know your thoughts.
By Paul L (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons from Wikimedia Commons