Feeling more deflated than a 1 month old birthday balloon
When you’ve reached a big milestone like completing a major project or losing a load of weight do you feel deflated, flat or struggle to get motivated? I know I have, and recently too.
Throughout my career I’ve worked on major transformational projects for companies which have often lasted more than 12 months and have taken up most of my time. Some examples would be outsourcing of infrastructure to a managed service provided, implementing an Operations centre or global site expansions. Each one has been the primary focus of my role at the time, it has required dedication, focus and a lot of personal energy to get change to occur (it’s tiring getting people onboard). At the end of the project there is the obvious dopamine hit if it went well, the immense sense of achievement and hopefully a promotion, bonus or other career reward.
Once the project or transformation was completed though I’d go flat for a while, this might be working a few less hours per week*, tough to do, or disengaging from a few other initiatives. After a while I’d start to get the ‘time to move’ itch. This didn’t mean I wanted to leave the company, more that I started to seek a new challenge
*The work hours are an interesting one as it often wasn’t less hours, it was just reducing the crazy number of hours, back to what I’m expected or contracted to do
I’d always put this down to being very driven and I’ve been called an agitator for change, and often you become what people say about you.
However, I’ve come to realise that it’s much bigger than that and a lot is down to the psychology of goals rather than just who we are.
You see for each of these project I was set a goal, an end state that we needed to get to and that was the target. It’s the same psychology for personal goals and is probably easier to explain as an example
Let’s take weight loss, something I know a thing or 2 about
The initiation of the goals
Doctor says you need to lose weight or your health will be seriously impacted
Someone makes a rude comment about your size
Doctor sets the required target of 30lb/15kg
You use the BMI scale (don’t get me started) to calculate your ideal weight
You google the weight of your favourite celeb and decide you want to look just like them
(Check out my dislike of the BMI metric)
Reducing your calories (calorie deficit) by whatever means you enjoy, hopefully not a fad diet
Increase your exercise or general movement level
Outcome if all goes to plan = You achieve your goal 🥳
Now this is all great but once you’ve reached your big target goal, now what? Do you have a plan for what next or another goal? If not, you often see people put weight back on as they take their foot off the gas or feel they don’t need to do it anymore. ‘I hit my goal, now where is that cake’
The long term of this is that you regress back to where you started and then must start the process again, with probably less motivation as it didn’t work long term last time
To achieve the long-term change that you wish to implement (IT project, health ……) there needs to be a bigger vision or strategy to align to. This is to ensure the goal you work on doesn’t feel like a dead stop at the end of a finish
Instead of setting a weight target, set a vision of being fit and healthy so you can run around with your kids. A goal on that journey is to lose the weight however the habits and practice would continue beyond hitting a number on the scale as this is when people often fall back into the bad habits. My initial vision for weight loss was triggered by some really bad engagement photos and I’d committed to not wanting to have the same kind of photos when we got married the following year and I wanted to feel more confident in myself. This reduced the risk of hitting an arbitrary figure and not feeling happy or falling back to old ways
With IT, I set a departmental strategy for my area with key themes, then every project or initiative needs to align to that strategy, which means we’re doing the project for a longer-term vision rather than something with a stop at the end.
If you want to improve customer experience
The Strategy is to improve customer experience and for this you want to improve net promoter score, SLA adherence and the volume of tickets completed via automation. One of your first projects is to roll out a new service management (ticketing) platform. Now you can see that the ticketing platform is just a step on the way to the bigger, more aspirational outcome of improved customer experience. Everything you do for the ticketing platform should be directionally aligned with the longer term strategy but also means you don’t stop when you finish the implementation, you and the team are still driving toward the bigger picture and that keeps the motivation and stops the fall back
This approach has helped me greatly to keep motivated but also is an excellent way to keep the team onboard and feeling as energised and driven as you are
As we’re starting to approach the end of the year it’s important to reflect on the year we’ve had, and it’s been a fun one, however, it’s also a great time to start thinking of 2021. Over the next few weeks, I’m planning to talk about some steps to get you ready for 2021 by setting out your vision and then some goals and habits. I believe this is the way to make the process work rather than a new years resolution that will be scrapped by Jan 15th. If you haven’t done the values questions, I recommend you go back and review them as they will help you set the ‘right’ strategy for you