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How to Stay Motivated

As we kicked off the new year, the question came up: How should we think about motivation and setting ourselves up to stay motivated throughout the year? The Phire Culture Committee brought this question to the broader team to gather a consensus on keeping each other accountable and on a path moving forward.

Motivation is defined as the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way. So what motivates you? Is it your family? Your environment? That cup of coffee every morning? The thing with motivation is that it’s not what it is but what it is connected to

While researching different levels of motivation, I came across a video that explained “the locus rule,” which is defined as the degree to which you believe you have control over your life, which in turn affects your level of motivation. The video illustrates the locus rule by citing a study of fifth graders who were tasked with solving a series of puzzles of varying difficulty. Upon solving a relatively easy puzzle, one group of students were told they succeeded due to their “hard work.” The other group were told their success was due to them being “smart.” In subsequent puzzles, it was observed that the “hard working” students were motivated to tackle more difficult challenges, while the “smart” students were averse to trying the harder puzzles. This study revealed the two focuses of control in the locus rule: internal and external.


Internal focus of control

People with an internal focus of control have motivators that are connected to factors they can directly control. In the case study described in the video, one group of students identified with hard work and effort. That emotional connection is what sustained them for a more extended period. It wasn’t just about the work and getting it done, but connecting to the roles they played and giving it their all. 


External focus of control 

By contrast, people with an external focus of control have motivators that are connected to factors outside of what they control, such as their environment. In the case of the second group of students, they didn’t feel they had much control over how smart they were and, as a result, when they could understand the complexity of work and difficulty level, they gave up because they were too focused and heavily relying on their intellect. 


At Phire, we learned that many of us want to have a more internal locus of control, but in actuality, we have a more external locus of control. We identified areas where we could improve through the team discussion. 


To be more like the first group of students, here are a few tips and tricks that may help you increase motivation levels.

  • Set small, measurable goals and write them down.
  • Become an excellent mental debater.
  • Grow your skills and continue learning.
  • Take care of yourself. 
  • Become more emotionally connected.
  • Make tasks more fun. 
  • Celebrate progress/success of all sizes.


As with ourselves, we have a responsibility to keep clients motivated. So how does this responsibility translate into client work? How can we motivate clients before projects lose momentum? Here are a few ideas:

  • Set realistic goals & expectations. 
  • Make meetings fun.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Be human and natural.
  • Understand their “why.”


Just like the study, we learned that to stay engaged and motivated in your work, you need to be connected to your “why.” What should continue to motivate you is your progress and improvement along the way.

Ryan White
Media Coordinator