Have you ever felt like you’ve completely lost your motivation?
If you’re like most salespeople – then your answer is probably a resounding yes.
Whether it’s feeling unmotivated at work or losing interest in activities you previously cared about, losing your motivation is an extremely uncomfortable experience. Especially in sales when every day you’re unmotivated, you fall further behind your sales target.
This was something I struggled with recently, but my hope is that what I’ve learned below will offer some relief in helping you better understand motivation and what may cause it to disappear.
For several weeks in June, I felt totally unmotivated by my work. This was new because most days I feel deeply connected to the mission of Sales Health Alliance and when motivation has slumped in the past – it typically has only lasted for a day or two.
As someone who spends a lot of time reading and learning about Mental Health, I immediately assumed that my lack of motivation was stemming from early stages of burnout.
In the weeks leading up to this period of non-existent motivation I had been grinding extremely hard. Between juggling a few client projects, some out of town travel and finishing a manuscript for a book I’m writing, I started to check the boxes of burnout.
Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started?
Do you feel irritable or impatient with co-workers, peers or customers?
Do you lack energy and find it difficult to concentrate?
The problem was, even though I ticked pretty much every box of someone struggling with burnout, this didn’t feel like burnout. Intuitively the word didn’t describe how I was feeling.
Sure, I had been working extremely hard, but during this period of high stress I was also taking very good care of myself. I was exercising regularly, seeing friends, sleeping well, eating healthy and doing my best to add and offload stress in equal parts each day.
If I was experiencing true burnout, my motivation also should have improved as I continued to care for my Mental Health, while the client projects, travel and manuscript were completed.
Unfortunately no amount of self-care, sleep and recovery was helping me feel more motivated.
If I wasn’t experiencing burnout – then what was going on inside of me?
Over the years, I have learned that when we aren’t able to put our feelings into words, one of the best things we can do is work on our emotional literacy through journaling. This practice involves labeling our emotions so we can answer questions like:
Where is (X emotion) coming from? What is causing Jeff to experience (X emotion) right now?
To feel motivated on a regular basis, we depend on a consistent flow of emotions like confidence, optimism and hope; but this flow is easily broken when unhelpful emotions like shame, anger or guilt get in the way.
By improving our emotional literacy, we get better at reading and understanding the nuances of our emotions. As a result, we can better dissect uncomfortable emotions and find the emotional blockage that is holding back our motivation. (Click here to see an emotional literacy exercise.)
As I explored my emotions through pen and paper, one emotion stood out and took center stage: resentment.
- I was resentful of my peers growing on LinkedIn.
- I was resentful of my girlfriend who was training for a triathlon.
- And I was resentful of competitors who were succeeding.
The thing about a difficult emotion like resentment is it’s very good at creating a smokescreen. Rather than inviting you in to dissect further, it encourages you to look outward for easy targets to blame for how you’re feeling.
When resentment is the dominant emotion you’re feeling – it’s important to remember that feeling resentful is almost never about THEM (the targets of blame). It’s about YOU.
Knowing my resentment could damage working relationships and hurt the people I cared about, I needed to take accountability for what I was feeling and kept journaling.
“Where is my resentment coming from? What is causing Jeff to be resentful?”
As I continued to journal about these questions, my emotional blockage revealed itself. I was feeling resentful of others because the people around me were achieving their goals and I had none.
In a short period of time I had achieved three major goals I set for myself.
I had taken a trip I always wanted to take, worked with some amazing clients and finished a manuscript for a book I never thought I’d write. My lack of motivation wasn’t stemming from burnout, it was stemming from feeling aimless about what’s next in my career.
Going back to our questions about burnout – it all started to make sense as to why I was checking them off:
What causes you to drag yourself to work, feel irritable, lack energy and not be able to focus?
Not having goals.
What causes you to resent others?
Not having goals and watching others achieve their own.
After a quick goal setting session (something we’ll explore in a future newsletter), I rediscovered my motivation and my passion. More importantly I walked away with a better understanding of these lessons to pass on to you:
- Burnout and Aimlessness feel VERY similar.
- They require different strategies to resolve.
- Emotional blockages can sink motivation FAST.
- Journaling and improving emotional literacy works.
- Resentment is rarely about THEM. It’s about YOU.
- Feeling resentful is a sign you need to revisit your goals.
Starting Back At 0
Within sales you’re likely to feel a combination of both burnout and aimlessness at the start of a new month or quarter.
A little burnt out from the effort you invested into the previous month/quarter and feeling a little aimless about how to get started on a new goal (sales target) that’s several weeks or months away.
Supercharge your motivation during this time by:
- Taking care of your Mental Health (sleep, exercise, play, eating healthy, etc)
- Journaling about your emotions going into this new month/quarter to remove hidden emotional blockages.
- Setting daily and weekly goals to provide you with immediate direction, clarity and action.
If this article resonates with you – I’d love to hear about your own experiences with motivation.
Have you had trouble with motivation in your sales career? How did you reinvigorate your motivation after losing it? Leave your answer in the comments below so others may learn from you.
Have a sales team? Explore our training program below to help maximize sales performance through better Mental Health and resilience.
About The Author
Jeff Riseley is currently the Founder of the Sales Health Alliance and Mental Health Advocate. With over a decade of sales experience – Jeff understands the importance of Mental Health in achieving peak sales performance.
Jeff combines his sales and Mental Health expertise to improve sales performance through mental health best practices. His strategies have helped sales teams become more motivated, resilient and better equipped to tackle stressful events within sales.