If you have ever done a job interview for a serious position, you have probably been asked the question, “Describe a time when you persevered in a difficult situation.” At work I’ve been working on a few different projects for the past couple of months. One project in particular has me thinking about this question.
The next time I’m asked “describe a situation where you had to persevere in difficulty” I will name this project #kmn
— Jess Versteeg (@jesslin) February 12, 2014
Usually, I tell the story of how I wrote my first novel in a month. This experience has served me well in many circumstances. All of those circumstances involved persevering through difficulty. With that first novel, I was driven to finish to prove my brother wrong (he said I couldn’t do it). The transferable part was the pattern I noticed: the project starts and you’re exhilarated, then it starts to be less exciting but still neat, then you want to SHOOT YOURSELF and TAKE PEOPLE WITH YOU but you got this far so you better keep going, and then you get so close to the end you can feel it and you push through.
This week, I was at the SHOOT YOURSELF part of the project. As I was walking home from work one day I was reflecting on what was keeping me going. How was I managing to keep myself motivated despite the fact that I resented having to do some of the tasks I was doing (it was just that one part of the project; as a whole I’m very happy with my work!).
What motivates you?
This is the list that I came up with as I was trudging through the snow:
- The task is worthwhile and the end product will serve many people for years
- It moves our mission forward (and I believe in that mission)
- Our mission is worth experiencing the difficulty
- If I procrastinate because I don’t want to face the task, it will probably die and never be finished (which would be bad because of 1 & 2)
- It’s my job, and my integrity as a good employee is on the line if I bail.
But of that list, it’s really #1 – #3 that keep me going. I really, really believe in what I’m doing. I believe in it so much that I’ve done many things I’m not crazy about because I want to see us move forward. I’m happy to “take one for the team” so to speak.
Reflect on your ‘Whys’
What’s on your list? What motivates you to continue despite hardship? Running through that list was really helpful and calming. I hadn’t really thought about those things before during the project, but I agreed to do it because of the first 3 on the list.
Despite this experience being a frustrating one at times, I already feel a sense of accomplishment in getting to the other side of the hard part. I’m looking ahead to the project being finished and having a product that helps others do good work.
What motivates you when you don’t want to finish a project or task?