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In the whirlwind of professional advancement, maintaining motivation becomes a defining factor for those aiming to soar in their careers. Drawing from my extensive experience as a career development expert, it’s evident that many individuals in their 30s grapple with this very challenge. Clients frequently seek guidance on reigniting their drive amid the complexities of modern work life.

Setting the stage

Imagine the bustling landscape of a corporate setting, where ambitious professionals navigate the maze of their 9-5 routines. Behind the façade of productivity, a silent struggle unfolds – a struggle with motivation. Surveys and studies corroborate what I’ve witnessed firsthand: a significant portion of individuals in their 30s find themselves wrestling with lack of clarity and motivation as they pursue their career aspirations.

Interestingly, recent research published in the Journal of Research in Personality challenges conventional wisdom regarding motivation and obstacles. Led by psychologist Marina Milyavskaya of Carleton University in Ottawa, this study suggests that it’s not the obstacles themselves but rather our motivation that determines the challenges we face in achieving our goals.

Ms. Milyavskaya distinguishes between two types of motivation: “want-to” motivation, driven by personal interest and values, and “have-to” motivation, fuelled by external pressures or obligations. The study shows that individuals with “want-to” motivation consciously distance themselves from obstacles, making goal attainment more manageable.

Unveiling the motivation mystery

Understanding this nuanced relationship between motivation and obstacles provides a fresh perspective on tackling the age-old problem of waning drive. By cultivating a “want-to” motivation, individuals can transform seemingly arduous tasks into fulfilling endeavours aligned with their values and aspirations.

Drawing from these insights, here are practical strategies to foster intrinsic motivation and reignite your professional drive:

  1. Align with your values: Reflect on how your career goals resonate with your values and identity. By reframing tasks in alignment with your core beliefs, you can infuse them with a sense of purpose and personal significance.
  2. Set realistic goals: Break down your ambitions into achievable milestones. This not only clarifies your path but also boosts motivation with each milestone accomplished, fostering a sense of progress and achievement.
  3. Visualize success: Envision your ideal career trajectory, imagining the impact and fulfilment it brings. This visualization technique serves as a powerful motivator, keeping your focus unwavering even during challenging times.
  4. Make it enjoyable: Infuse enjoyable elements into your tasks, such as listening to music or rewarding yourself with small treats. By pairing tasks with enjoyable experiences, you can create a more positive association, enhancing intrinsic motivation.

Maintaining motivation is an ongoing journey fuelled by a growth mindset and anchored in personal values. By implementing these strategies, individuals can cultivate a mindset that empowers them to navigate the complexities of their 9-5 grind with confidence and resilience, propelling them toward their career objectives with renewed vigour.

Kadine Cooper, CPCC, also known as Coach K, is a certified coach, facilitator and speaker, specializing in empowering professionals and organizations to reach their full potential. With a focus on personal and professional development, Kadine leverages her expertise to drive positive change and growth.

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