How often do you stop and reflect on what motivates you? No, I mean deeply reflect on it. As in set aside time in your calendar for it. Not those moments where during chaos you think, “What the hell am I doing with my life?!?”. I’m talking about the intentional reflection which leads to a deeper understanding of your own purpose, drive, and energy. If you haven’t done it in a while, consider this an invitation.
I have a good friend who is struggling to answer this question right now. She left another career after 15 years which was having an adverse impact on her health. She thought by starting her own practice in an area of coaching she cared deeply about, she would feel all better. It isn’t working that way. She’s been working her tail off for the past three years to build her business. It isn’t doing poorly, but it isn’t fulfilling her the way she had hoped it would.
I asked her recently when the last time was that she reflected on what motivates her. She replied that she’s been through all the visioning things we do when we’re first starting up a business. She waved her hand somewhat dismissively, indicating she’d already “been there, done that”. But I’m not so sure it’s not worth revisiting.
Time to (Re)Assess
When you generally enjoy what you do, but you still feel like something is off, it might be time to reassess. Here are a few simple steps you can try to reconnect with what motivates you.
I’m a visual person, so I enjoy taking a blank sheet of paper and drawing a circle at the center with “ME” written inside. Then I follow these steps and draw spokes out from myself as I reflect. You can do this however it feels right to you.
- Reflect on experiences which have shaped you. Where/how you grew up. Family members. Education. Socioeconomic status. Religion. Community. Just to name a few things. Think about past experiences that you know have made you who you are today. Things which have shaped how you see the world.
- Take stock of where you are now. How you live. Family members. Career. Socioeconomic status. Religion. Community. Hobbies. Again, just to name a few. Think of the things in your life right now. What defines you?
- Envision where you want to go in your life. Again, use those same topics to project your future self. What are the things which will define you then?
- How does all of that make you feel? From your past, are there things you are longing to return to, in terms of how you live your life? From your present, are there aspects of your current life which are draining you? From your future self, how far away are you from this vision of who you want to be?
- Connect the dots. What you pull from this reflection says a lot about what motivates you. We often feel unhappy, restless, or disconnected when something which deeply motivates us is not happening. Or is missing from our lives completely.
My friend is not giving up her business. At least, not yet. She’s decided to look at how she might incorporate elements into her practice of what energizes her most. Her next action step is to do some research to explore what’s out there already. She hopes to find others doing some piece of what she wants to do. She is excited to brainstorm ideas about collaboration with them.
What’s your next step?