Motivation Matters: Achieve goals to keep you growing in a time of disruption – The Union Leader

Posted: April 12, 2020 at 8:43 pm

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This time of Coronavirus disruption is creating a situation for many where they have more available free time. For some, hours have been cut back or jobs have been lost. Then, there are those who find themselves working from their homes, which presents its own challenges, especially where child care services or school attendance has been interrupted.

In some workplaces, people are needing to fill-in for staff members who are out ill. For others, such as in the medical field, the work demands, in certain areas, are overwhelming. These differing scenarios have something in common, though: Routines are being toppled. Which leads to the question: How does one come to feel a sense of accomplishment, even in unsettling circumstances? Inevitably, it is when goals are being met.

Goal-setting appeals to the innate need to succeed. Goals are measurable, which means one can observe progress or the lack thereof. When goals are met one can feel a sense of satisfaction in the completion of the task. Many employees are being compelled to take time away from their routine and/or their typical job responsibilities. This can be quite a shock to ones motivation system. We humans are designed to be productive to do things that matter. We also function much more efficiently when we have routines in place. While we all enjoy having time off from work now and then, we really like attaining goals.

A substantial amount of research has focused on how the handling of goals impacts the type of motivation employees experience. The same holds true for our own individual drives. In a typical workday, we find ourselves largely driven by requests and assignments. These require specific performances: There is no choice but to get into response mode. In the present time, the flow and pace are changed up in such a way that it can be disorienting. People are saying they are unsure as to which day it is, feel less productive even when they are completing tasks, are finding themselves feeling more tired than they feel they should, that work is more draining, that it takes more of a push to get tasks done, etc.

This is understandable: We thrive on routine. Having a regular order of tasks to handle brings about a cadence and efficiency to the accomplishment of same; here, work is much less efforted. On the other hand, disorder and the absence of expected activity bring a sense of a lack of purpose, and seem to slow us down to a point where our normal, smoothly functioning, fast-paced flow of work is obstructed.

What it all boils down to is to have clear expectations, which can be measured. These will differ in the context of the environment at hand: whether at the office, plant, campus, or home. The key is to have specific goals, which are often set by people to whom we report, be as real and concrete, as they are under normal working circumstances. It would be useful for managers to include employees in the setting of goals, where feasible, especially in such difficult times. We need goals to guide our work productivity.

Additionally, we may need to set some goals for our personal activities or home projects in order to satisfy the desire to feel accomplished. You see, for most people, before COVID-19, when they were not at not work, they had hobbies, sports, and other activities in which they were engaging. Right now, gone are sporting events both the observance of and engagement in, movie and dinner dates, socializing with friends, even running most errands.

So, one way to motivate ourselves is to set our own goals to get us into an energized mindset. Achieving certain targets, by a stated time, helps us grow in competence, a key element of self-motivation. There can be much innate satisfaction from the completion of self-assigned tasks and projects. But, be careful not to over-commit or over-promise yourself, as this can be self-defeating. Failure dampens motivation.

I hope youll get out there and drink in the inspiring, clean air with just the right amount of early-spring briskness. Take a hike or a walk, grab a rake and clean-out some flower beds, make those household repairs or renovations, or take the family on a picnic. The best antidote to emotional sluggishness (perfectly understandable in this climate) is doing. Goals provide a framework for action. Set them, and reset them after theyve been achieved.

Dr. Paul P. Baard is an organizational psychologist, specializing in motivation. Formerly a full-time professor at Fordham Universitys Graduate School of Business and a senior line executive in the television industry, he is the lead author of a book on leadership and motivation, and has been published broadly, including in Harvard Business Review. He and Veronica Baard, a former managing director responsible for HR at a major international investment banking firm, head up Baard Consulting LLC, a firm in the greater Boston area, focusing on motivation, conflict reduction, and team building. Questions are welcomed at

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Motivation Matters: Achieve goals to keep you growing in a time of disruption - The Union Leader

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April 12th, 2020 at 8:43 pm

Posted in Motivation