The main principle here is that you need to find a way to keep going – or perhaps many ways to keep going. If you’ve got this far in the book, you’re already demonstrating motivation; but where will this energy and enthusiasm be in a couple of months’ time? When the going gets a little rough, you need to be ready – you need to be at your peak in motivation terms, so that you have the tenacity to stick with it.
One way to do this is to keep the personal benefits that success will bring to you, and also the negative consequences or losses you will incur if you fail at the forefront of your mind. Some people tend to be more motivated by the gains they could make, others by the losses. In psychology, this is often referred to as “moving towards” or “moving away” motivation.
Get out your Stakeholder Influence Map. On the back, draw a vertical line down the middle. On the left of this line, write down everything you will gain from achieving your Influencing Goal. On the right, note everything you could lose if you fail. Refer to this often, but especially whenever you are doing a progress review of the Stakeholder Influence Process.
- How will it contribute to your bonus, pay review?
- Will it improve your career? How?
- Does success with this goal raise your profile?
- Will it make life easier for you? How will others you care about benefit?
- What problems will it solve for you?
- How will it improve the way your colleagues think about you?
- What new connections/friends will you make?
- Will it improve your personal life?
More stimulation questions…
- What will you lose if you fail?
- How will your reputation be damaged?
- Will others think you have let them down?
- Could you get fired, rejected for promotion?
- How will more senior colleagues think about your failure?
- Will you have enough excuses to get away with it? Will anybody buy them?
- What will your partner or friends think?
Work with the set of questions above which you feel will help you the most based on your preference to move towards or away from things.
Thinking about the gains and losses for an Influencing Goal is great, but to be realistic you also need to factor in all of the other projects you have on the go. Your current goal may have lots of potential benefits, what about goal B or even goal C? Perhaps goal A is worth ditching in favour of goal B. Only you can decide, but decide you must.
A Little Task
On a sheet of paper, draw a column for each major goal you are working on. In the top half of each column, write down the main benefit for you and, in the bottom half, the main pitfalls of failing to achieve the goal. Seeing these side-by-side will help you to reassess and refresh your priorities.
If you decide to de-prioritise a goal, remember to keep your stakeholders informed and manage their expectations – they may have a different view of the priorities.
So far so good?
Now, how about raising the stakes a little more? They say that fortune favours the brave, so consider these ideas to increase your commitment and motivation, or even fear if that’s what gets you going!
- Have a bet with a competing project manager that you will win the resources/get the budget/be first to complete.
- Make public statements about the deadlines you have set.
- Strike a bargain with one of your stakeholders; with consequences if you fail to deliver (you could have a bit of fun with this too!).
- Use every opportunity to stress just how critical your goal is to the success of the business (careful now).
- Get your project on the radar for the compliance/governance committee.
- Talk up the consequences of failure for the organisation and everybody who works there.
- Tell your boss you will resign if you fail. (Getting nervous?)
- Find ways to boast to your friends about how important your project is.
Be careful you don’t back yourself into a corner and become too personally attached to your goal. At some stage in your regular reviews, you may conclude that you need to force the closure of your own project.
Okay, I will confess, some of these suggestions may be a bit provocative, but that’s my job. You need to carefully consider all options which could keep yourself on the move because that has serious (positive) consequences for you and your career.
Be careful not to alienate your colleagues (and friends) and err on the side of light-hearted banter, etc. Have a bit of fun with them if it is appropriate.
A final idea about motivation for you is to use your stakeholders to keep you motivated, either Advocates or Enemies can be quite useful to you here. By reminding your Advocates of the benefits they will accrue, you can enlist their guidance on how to keep you moving forward. Perhaps they could exert a little discipline or regularly ask for updates. On the other hand, reminding yourself of all that your Enemies could gain from your downfall could give you just the boost you need!