Chaos, finding the will to continue

There have been some days in the last 3 months where I have woken up, and while immensely grateful to be working and be able to work in the safety of my home, all I want to do is keep sleeping.

If I go back to bed, then I don’t have to deal with the uncertainly of the day. That anxiety then leads me to catastrophize, which is to think of the worst possible outcome and be stuck in that feedback loop, which is immobilising and it’s hard to shake it off.

Not every day is like this – for the most part I’m adapting, but there have been trying days (usually if I have watched too much of the news). I recognise if I feel this way, so do others. Yet somehow, there is this under current in my mind saying should be at peak productivity, 110% of the time while working from home. Despite doing so in a crisis.

The internal motivation to go on, is all we have. Those external motivators are flatlining for a lot of people in various industries as pay rises and bonus programs are reviewed based on the current climate. In Australia, the Job Keeper payments have also presented a unique experiment into the motivation to work. The carrot and the stick isn’t as effective as it once was. Getting paid is still a considerable motivator. It will get people to work, but it won’t maintain performance.

Self determination theory presents us with research into the influence of competence, relatedness and autonomy. By pulling on those leavers in our own mind, building structures into our work and home life, we can create a supply of internal motivation to keep us going.

Competence

Learn new skills, do all those LinkedIn courses, and also, take time to build your psychological competence. Journal, read stories about people, engage in challenging discussions, see a therapist. Get some more language for all those feelings you are having – become emotionally literate.

Autonomy

Time to bust out the old circle of influence, circle of control. Start small, ‘today I choose to get up at 8am’, might be all you need.

Relatedness

Scroll to the bottom of your various messenger apps and text someone who you haven’t spoken to in a really long time. Think about why you go to work, is it to support your family, apply your talents, build a life for yourself, avoid the pain of not being able to pay the bills, connect with others. Whatever it is, to receive money is the result, but there is usually another equally if not more important driver.

What does this mean for L&D teams?

L&D teams can add value by working with senior leaders to develop an emotional education curriculum – not just a skills based one. What are all the micro routines that help us to stay internally motivated while the world shifts around us, in what is becoming a more chaotic way.

That work requires organisations to connect to a deeper offering, and sometimes a more vulnerable one. For many people, their workplace is where they will get the most opportunity for prompted learning, with that there is the capacity to do some very good work to help people to connect to new ideas.

I’m still figuring out the best way to do that.. but I’m making a start …I’m starting by 1% everyday. This could be a conversation, a learning bite, a new approach or sharing my own story, one that I usually keep to myself.

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