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I Can't Get No...Satisfaction

In coaching we talk a lot about what motivates people. Is it external praise? Knowing a job was well done? Being guided by an internal compass? In the world of social media where so many things seem shiny or ideal and where getting likes, shares, and comments drive marketing, motivation can get hijacked.

For those of us who generally have strong internal motivation, we can get caught in looking for outside affirmation. I’ve had this happen to me several times and currently untangling myself from its grip. I somehow slipped into this pattern of basing my success and motivation on things I can’t control, like whether people like my posts, sign up for coaching packages, or tell me I’m a rock star on the regular. It was clouding my judgment in small but powerful ways, and I’m glad I have help to change course (counselors, coaches, and spiritual directors are so helpful in this work!).

One of the ways I’m changing perspective in 2021 is to find satisfaction in the work I do, even if no one knows about it. This perspective might seem simple or obvious, but if you sit with it for a moment and look at your behavior, you’ll probably notice that you do things for validation and affirmation, with satisfaction coming after receiving external praise. Yes, we need to know we’re doing a good job (and if we’re not, then change accordingly), but we burn out or become highly self-critical if our motivation and satisfaction are based solely on the external responses we get.

So I’ve committed to making a list every day of the things I need (not want…big difference) to accomplish. This can be done the night before or the morning of. I find it helpful to do the list at the end of my workday, thus shutting down the stressful inner narrative of “Oh! You have this and that and this to do, you need to remember! Don’t forget this!”

When I create my list and work from it, at the end of the day I know I accomplished tasks and feel good about myself. I find satisfaction and motivation in my own action, regardless of whether anyone else knows what I did that day.

Questions to ponder:

· Where does your motivation lie?

· How do you find satisfaction in your work and life?

Stay curious friends!

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