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Project Managers Must Dig Deep for Motivation

To be a project manager, you must have real motivation because you will be expected to motivate your team but nobody will be expending much energy motivating you so self-motivation is a must. Here we look at digging deep and finding that motivation, enabling you to overcome the dreaded motivation slump.

Experience and continuing professional development (CPD) in project management can bring you skills, knowledge, connections and insight, but you must have motivation to improve yourself and effectively manage a project to success.

Perhaps you have experienced small periods in your life where you find you have no gusto, no get up and go. Or you’re currently experiencing a slump in motivation levels. This happens to all of us at some point and it is a terrible feeling when motivation is something you need in excess to get you through the inevitable and constant challenges of project management.

You can feel discouraged, disappointed or upset when you face difficulties in this area, because it has a detrimental effect on your performance at work. We’ve all felt like giving up at some point and felt truly disappointed in ourselves, but we’ve all at some point found the courage and the strength to push through the hard times.

So how do you recognise when to push through and when to simply admit defeat? Part of being an excellent project manager is, indeed, knowing when to ask for help, but that doesn’t count as quitting. Quitting is when you know it’s time to give up and simply move on. But it’s not always easy to know whether you should dig deep, or whether or not you should quit. And sometimes you need to try one, before you can try the other.

We cannot predict the future or how things will play out, but we can recognise indicators that enable us to make really good judgement calls.

For example; if a specific methodology, whether it’s Agile, APMP or PRINCE2, is causing your project to crumble, that’s a really good indicator that perhaps you need to quit pushing your tactics and switch them instead. But simply feeling de-motivated is most definitely not an indication you need to quit. In fact feeling de-motivated should be an indicator that you need to push through so that you can enable yourself to move forward and achieve a successful outcome for yourself and for your project and team.

So how do you dig deep and find that motivation that you so desperately need?

Grab the bull by the horns

Sometimes it’s as simple as bracing yourself and pushing through without thinking too much about your emotions. Almost like forcing yourself to go to the gym on a cold and rainy night without thinking about it, just pushing through and then feeling amazing afterwards. You simply brace yourself, and get on with it. This is not a method that will work on a big slump, but if it’s a little dip in motivation it will work, you just have to find the strength.

Work through it step by step

Sometimes you have to inch your way through a task or project without thinking any further than the one small goal you have set yourself. Maybe your first goal is to do some project management training to enable you to prepare for a complicated project, or you’ve challenged yourself to volunteer for the next difficult project that comes up. By planning a first step and taking that first step, you are moving forward, you might not be going at it full force but you’re still applying momentum and the sooner you start moving, the sooner you’ll start feeling confident in yourself and wanting to keep moving.

Embrace the way you’re feeling

Sounds weird doesn’t it? Appreciating that you’re feeling demotivated. No it isn’t time to give yourself a party for feeling this way, but by recognising and embracing the fact you do feel this way, you give your mind the clarity to naturally deal with the emotions and move forward. Once you accept that bad things might happen, and that you cannot control everything, you’ll find a weight is lifted from your shoulders and you will suddenly have a lot more room for growth.

Think basic

Simplify your reasons for doing what you’re doing. So if you’re doing a project, don’t focus on completion, focus on experience and learning. Make your wants and needs basic and you’ll find it much easier to come out of the slump.

Be selfish

Stop thinking about your boss, your customer and your team and think about yourself. That’s not to say you should negatively affect anyone around you, but a little self-reflection and self-nurturing goes a long way and focusing on you rather than those around you may help you rediscover your motivation for being a project manager in the first place.

Write your own mission statement

Why not try writing a mission statement that’s all about you and what you bring to your industry. Perhaps you have forgotten what you wanted to represent, what you wanted to stand for within project management. Write first about your skills and then about the skills you want. By doing this you will first recognise what you bring to your organisation and you will also recognise where you could improve and build your confidence. Maybe it’s time to do some networking, or move departments, or develop as a professional with some recognised accreditation.