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How to Get Motivated

Happy New Year! Or is it? Halfway through January, resolutions are unravelling and news of economic gloom is sweeping across the UK and the USA. Locally to me, Rolls Royce are laying off thousands of workers…


Did you notice that dose of negativity affecting your motivation to read on? It did? Well, thank you for carrying on reading!

Seriously, the negativity surrounding us actually affects our bio-chemistry (and that of our teams too). It’s easy at work to get swept up into problems, barriers or gaps that need to be sorted, removed or filled. In meetings, this leads to resigned plodding rather than energy, motivation and creative possibilities.

Try Switching the Focus

One way to motivate and energise groups in meetings is to restate the ‘problem’ using a ‘solutions focus’. This means looking at what works already and building on that. Think about where do you want to be in the future? Describing and visualising this in detail as a group can really bring out their enthusiasm and creativity, not to mention some ingenious ideas on how to get there.

Isn’t This Just Penny Being Far Too ‘Happy Clappy’?

Am I just bringing positive thinking where actually hard-headed realism is needed? That’s what a client said to me recently. I replied that it’s not about changing the truth, just changing the focus. Here’s an example: If I say to my daughter, ‘Don’t go into my office!’ I know that she’ll be curious and very tempted to go and find out why. If I tell her that she can do whatever she wants to downstairs, she might even sit down and do her homework at the kitchen table. Perhaps not! However she won’t be attracted to my upstairs office. It’s changed the focus onto something more constructive for her.

Penny’s Secret Weapon for 2008 Planning

So, in the midst of a bleak January midwinter here in Loughborough, how have I used this different focus to get motivated? Well, there’s a big poster in my office on the wall with ‘2007 Achievements’ in colour at the top. It’s covered in colourful post-it notes saying:

  • Ran courses on two continents with consistent, positive feedback
  • Hundreds of people read my newsletters each month and the total is growing every day. 
  • Developed a meeting start-up template that can transform meetings.
  • Delivered four talks to professional associations in 2007 (We already have four more set up for 2008 and it’s only 15th Jan! Let me know if you need a speaker – details here.
  • Gained a number of major clients and good friendships started (thank you!)

That’s just a sample…

With that chart up on the wall, I can imagine the ‘2008 Achievements’ poster that will take its place. It’s SO much easier for me to get going on this year’s plan – which includes developing products that can support people, without the need to travel to a course or seminar…for example, my teleseminar series on ‘Making Conference Calls Work’ for projects. Fix Tuesday 11th March at 2pm GMT in your diary for a free overview call… more details nearer the date. (2PM GMT is 3PM in Central Europe, 9AM on the East Coast of the USA and 1AM in New Zealand (oops). I’ll make sure it’s recorded for downloading later!)

So what about you?

How can you shift the focus on an issue to bring out your enthusiasm and creativity? Stop for a moment, and just try reframing something important… What can you do to hold that motivation and share it across the team? How can you tap into this in your project meetings?

(For more details on the Solutions Focus approach, see Paul Jackson and Mark Mercergow’s book, the Solutions Focus, available at our bookshop. Have a great year and all the best with your motivation and 2008 plans!


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© 2008 Making Projects Work Ltd., All rights reserved. You are free to use material from this Making Projects Work newsletter in whole or in part, as long as you include this attribution, including a live web site link. Please also notify me where the material will appear. “By Penny Pullan of Making Projects Work Ltd. Please visit our web site at www.makingprojectswork.co.uk.”