How to Fuel Your Motivation with Your Values

How to Fuel Your Motivation with Your Values

Have you ever been so jazzed about your project that you feel you could take on the world? Bring it! You’re on fire!

Or… maybe not.

Maybe you’re in robotic, mindless routine. It was fun at first and you used to love this, but now you’re feeling like it’s a chore. It’s tough to get started. It’s tougher to get up in the morning. You aren’t excited anymore.

Where’d the spark go?

I’ve been there. Everyone has, at some point or another. We forget what lit us on fire in the first place and eventually end up just going through the motions. Sometimes we try hard to get the flames back, sweating away, pumping hard on the bellows just to get a glimmer going in the embers.

It doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it shouldn’t be that way. Everyone should feel some sort of excitement for what they’re doing.

But how can you rekindle motivation for a project that’s become duller than grey ashes?

Let me tell you: Know what you value.

When you know your values – or rather, what you value – you can fan up the flames of your motivation. And then you can create a snowball effect that gets you jazzed, full of excitement and feeling awesome about your project.

The problem is that most of us think we value money, and we make money our goal. You’d think cash is good motivation, right? But often, that’s not enough.

Some people don’t value money very much. I don’t. I value other things more. So working on a project that could bring me $100,000 is nice… but it’s not very motivating. A project that brings me status or recognition fires me up way more.

In fact, a client and I had this very conversation. I quoted on his project and he told me it wasn’t enough – he wanted me to charge more to make sure I was so well paid that I’d be motivated to do spectacular work.

My reply was simple: “Charging more won’t make me do better work. I work for other rewards that I find more fulfilling.”

When you pick money as a motivator and it isn’t really what you value, you end up with problems. You might struggle along, just barely making ends meet – as long as your other values are fulfilled. Once they are, you start coasting along again and stop working hard for money until you’re touching poverty.

And you motivate yourself just enough to stay away from it.

NLP practitioners know this one. They say people treat values in a towards and away situation: We move towards what we want and away from what we don’t.

And when we don’t value money, we won’t move towards it. We’ll just move away from poverty. And never get rich.

Which is fine, quite frankly. There’s no rule that says you need to become a millionaire, if that’s not the sort of thing that turns your crank. Because if that’s the case, all the rah-rah-rah-make-money-get-rich stuff people shove at you won’t do a damned thing to get you motivated.

So what does turn your crank? What do you value?

Maybe you value the ability to travel. I know many people who love to travel and leap on any chance to visit new places. I know other people who love fancy restaurant meals. Or swanky clothes. Or thrilling activities. Or downtime with a good book.

Figure it out. Because when you know what you value, you can start looking at new ways to motivate yourself. You can change your relationship with work, money and projects, and you can start keeping score in a very different way.

And you’ll find that fire you need to fuel you up.

Think of your work in terms of what reward it brings you if you accomplish it – and base your rewards on what you value. That blog post might earn you a new book to read in peace. That pitch you hated writing might land you three weeks of candlelight dinners with your spouse. And that project you just won? It’s your plane trip to New York.

This strategy works. I use it all the time. I set goals and rewards for myself, ones that really get me excited, and I use that motivation to reach them when I sit down to work. I don’t think about, “Done, finished. God, I’m glad that’s over.”

I think this instead: “If I nail this, I’m $500 closer to that weekend hotel get-away I wanted.”

Because I value my little hotel getaways. A lot. $500? Ech. Not so much on its own. Money’s nice, but it’s just the means I use to reach what I value in life.

So start thinking of your work in terms of what you value. Attach a reward to it, and change your game. Suddenly you’ll find new motivation, new passion, new fire. Everything you touch becomes an opportunity to achieve your reward.

How fast can you reach it?

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Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.