The #1 Way to Stay Motivated

There have been a few different articles on WorkAwesome about how to stay motivated, from musical motivation to motivational quotes, but according to this report from the Harvard Business Review’s Breakthrough Ideas of 2010, the number one way to stay motivated is to have a clear sense that progress is being made.

Sense of Progress = Feeling of Motivation

The findings were based on information received from 12,000 end-of-day diaries, and after reviewing the content, the researchers were able to measure the relative motivation of the workers.

When the workers said they were having their very best days, these were the 5 factors that influenced their level of motivation the most.

  1. Making progress = 76%
  2. Collaboration = 53%
  3. Organizational Support = 43%
  4. Interpersonal support = 25%
  5. Doing important work = 19%

The funny part about this report is the management was asked to rate what they felt the most important factor for motivation was, and they determined it was recognition for good work.  A sense of progress came in as the least important factor, in their opinion.

So if you are a manager, talk to your team and find ways to remove the barriers preventing them from moving the project forward.  If you’re a worker, share this report with your manager, so they can see that what they may think is motivational is not quite as important as getting the job done.

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After spending way too long in the corporate world, Jason has switched to full-time freelancing. With any luck you enjoyed this article - and if you need one of your very own, give him a shout! @brandscaping on the twitter, or at


  1. Cesare on the 2nd September

    Very interesting research. My motivation depends mainly on the sense of progress.

  2. Nathaniel on the 2nd September

    Man, same here. If I don’t make any progress in a day I feel awful. Like the day was a waste, you know?

  3. Rares on the 2nd September

    Just gonna quote one of the many leaders out there:

    “There is no substitute for leaders getting to know their staff as individuals, and understanding what motivates them as individuals. Stop trying to find a magic pill – if there is one, it’s that there isn’t ONE.”

  4. Sase Antic on the 2nd September

    Very true. The sense of progress is my motivation, too.

  5. Brian Landi on the 3rd September

    Great post, thanks! I think it is very logical that the two top reasons are 1. Making progress and 2. Collaboration

    Our basic needs are really centered around getting better at something and also being accepted by and valued by other people.

    This post really got me thinking!

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