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How to stay motivated on the long run

Do you rely on external appraisal or rewards? Or have you found an internal motive? Researches have found that, no matter where you are from and the culture surrounding you, you will be much more motivated if it comes from within.

The difference between external and internal motivation.

External motivation is triggered by elements outside of you. It can be, for example, a pay check at the end of the month, or the threat of punishment if you do not do something.

Anything that makes you do things that is initiated by something or someone else than you.

Internal motivation is the motivation that comes within. You do things because you like doing them. It is enjoyable, you feel autonomous and competent at this.

Researches show that external rewards are ultimately undermining people’s motivation, unless they are given independently of the task at hand or when they are not anticipated by the person.

How to move from external motivation to internal motivation.

Work on your values, your needs and a purpose.

These elements are key to help you stay grounded and motivated. It is also commonly agreed that people having a purpose to make an impact on others are more easily motivated.

Look at results you make, not results of your actions on others. You can’t control other people. Relying on them doing something to stay motivated puts you at odds.

A better way is to measure your progress on the actions you take and the results you generate from your actions.

Find the right level of challenge.

Feeling competent is one of the psycholo­gical needs to stay motivated on the long run.

To achieve this, start with goals that are challenging but can complete. Increase the level of challenge and difficulty as you move forward and build-up your skills and self-confidence. One step at a time.

Make sure you have autonomy

Ensure you have the ability to do things as you want, with the goal in mind. The more choice you will have in how you can achieve your tasks and objective, the greater and more sustainable your motivation will be.

What applies to us as individual, is also true for your team

If you are leading a team or trying to influence people to keep achieving a goal, the same tools can be applied.

The more autonomy and relatedness you can create and the more competent you can make them feel, the more motivated they will be on the long run.

An Agile environment is typically designed for these three elements to be optimised for the teams that are self-organized (autonomy and relatedness), purpose-driven and ideally guided by goals like sprint goals or objectives and key Results (competence).

Agile leaders help create this environment for their teams by becoming catalysts and know how to find out what motivates people on the long run.

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