“Are we there yet?” “How much longer?” “When will we get there?” These are familiar questions to anyone who has tried to go on a road trip, hike, or anywhere really, with children. Even as adults, when we have a destination in mind, many times we can get impatient and want to reach it as soon as possible.
As leaders, the same can be said of the goals we set for ourselves and our teams. When will the project be completed? How long until we hit that sales target? The pressure is always there to reach goals by, if not before, a given deadline. While keeping our eyes on the end goal can help us stay focused and inspired, when we invariably hit road bumps along the way we end up losing momentum. And when that happens, it can lead to a loss of motivation which can be hard to restore.
So how do we motivate ourselves and our teams to keep moving forward when it feels like no progress is being made? We can just try to keep pushing on, but we all know what it’s like to try to do something when you’re not motivated – it feels like you’re wading through mud and it’s neither productive nor enjoyable. Especially when progress is stalled due to reasons beyond our control, it can feel like we’re pushing against a wall.
At these times, I’ve found that the best way to regain motivation is to look back. While looking back might seem counterintuitive when you’re trying to move forward, it can serve as a great encouragement to see how far you’ve already come. Take a step back and see the big picture. It’s likely that you’ve already made some, if not significant, progress toward that goal. Appreciating and celebrating progress already made can provide the push necessary to get the momentum going again. Like a rest stop along the way on a road trip, it becomes an opportunity to pause and regroup, refresh, and refocus in order to reach the final destination.
The next time you are disappointed that you haven’t reached your goal or accomplished what you think you should have, try taking advantage of the opportunity to slow down and look back, before moving forward.