A Lack of Motivation is not a Lack of Willpower

A lack of motivation is always for the same reason: we don't care.

We don’t care about what others care about, or they don’t care about what we care about. It's that simple.

Workers who lack motivation don’t care as much about their responsibilities as their employers do. Students who aren’t motivated to study don’t care as much about their learning as their teachers do. Children who don’t pick up their clothes don’t care as much about taking care of the home as their parents do.

Reasons why motivation is missing

Why people don't care is due to one of two beliefs. They believe they will not benefit significantly by putting in the required effort , or they believe they don't have the required knowledge or skill to do the job, even if they know they would benefit if they could.

If it’s the first reason, their believe their contribution has no value. They tell themselves things like “It won't make any difference if I show up on time, so why not take an extra fifteen minutes of sleep?” If it’s the second reason, they believe they can't learn. They say: “I’m no good at math because I make mistakes. Why should I make the effort?”

If you want to motivate someone, first find out which belief is behind their lack of motivation, then challenge it.

Ask questions

Begin by asking the reason why they didn’t do what you expected them to do. A simple question such as “I left you a message asking you to get back to me. What happened?” does the trick. It asks for their input without accusing them of failing to meet your expectations. It also keeps the lines of communication open.

If you discover they lack the necessary knowledge or skills, find out what it is they need to learn. Then, identify ways they can learn how to do it. Do you need to demonstrate a specific skill for them? Is a book or manual available they can read that has the required information? Could they use a mentor, a training course, or coaching? Do they have your phone number if they need to call you?

Discover what they care about

Suppose you learn that they do not believe their effort makes any difference. Find out what they care about and link it to the task at hand. Often personal values are all it takes.

Wanting to be perceived as a team player or wanting to do one’s fair share are frequently personal values that are strong enough to overcome a lack of motivation. So are wanting to be known as someone who keeps their word, or someone who takes pride in their work.

Involve them in identifying what some of the consequences are to other employees or to family members or to the organization itself if they don’t do what they are suppose to do. Point out how their contribution does make a difference.

Social influences

Also look for social influences, such as the opinions and habits of peers. Sometimes a person has the required skills and wants to perform up to expectations. However, he or she is reluctant to go against the prevailing attitude in the office or in the school. Social pressure can often be the primary reason behind a lack of motivation.

Effective Communication Coaching helps you discover ways to increase motivation in yourself and in others so you can get better results in your life.

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