The challenge for you and me, knowledge workers with unlimited information (and distraction), is knowing how to tap inspiration when it’s lacking.
Maybe “inspiration” should be “motivation.” You choose. I mean “the intrinsic energy and meaning that keeps you going.” After all, there is no shortage of work and most of us want to be known for getting stuff done.
We can lose sight of the reasons our contribution matters. When no one else is noticing that we’re advancing a project, our mostly digital work seems invisible. What people tend to notice is errors and problems.
Your source of inspiration lies in doing the work and tracking your own progress. Measure against standards that are meaningful to you. If you’re like me, you’ll want to find someone to bounce the work off of. I ask, “This clarifies, or advances, the work in this way. Does it do that for you?”
When I’m asking for a reality check, I’m not asking for feedback. I’m looking for a “yes” or “no” answer. With that answer, and a sense of progress to bolster me, I may ask for feedback. My feedback rule: Ask for the feedback you want and if you get more than that, don’t worry about it. It will wait. Say thank you.
Most of aim for a job, a role, or a project because we believe in it. We believe it will give us something we want, whether a short term win or a noble objective. In the challenges of getting stuff done, we can lose track of what we believe in or what we set out after.
- What do I care about?
- What animates me?
- What do I believe in?
Even if you didn’t choose the project, if you have doubts about the work, you can choose to mine it for meaning. Sometimes, it’s all uphill. But within the experience, it’s within our power to change our minds. We can seek some meaningful purpose in our action the playing field. There will come a time to evaluate whether you’re always running uphill. You may want to change that pattern.
But now, while you’re in the middle of the run, watch your stride, keep the gain foremost in mind (rather than the pain), notice your progress, and encourage other runners. You’re not alone in digging deeper for purpose in what you’re doing right now.