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Sometimes we’re asked to do something that seems barren of value. While it’s not worth resigning over, it also doesn’t feel as if it’s worth the pain of forcing our way through it. With a reframe, we can discover an ember of excitement. We can kindle that ember into flames of contentment.

Clarify the value you’re being asked to provide

I once had a manager who required we submit detailed status reports every Friday by noon. He also spent Friday afternoon interrogating us about our status.

I didn’t understand this double reporting. We weren’t doing double-entry accounting.

When I asked, he told me he mined the written status reports when he wrote our performance reviews and promotion proposals.

Suddenly I felt motivated.

Change how you provide the value

However, writing these status reports was still a lot of work. How could I make the process easier? Or more fun?

Maybe we could record his verbal interrogations? No. He used text search and copy-and-paste extensively.

How about using speech-to-text software to auto-transcribe our verbal conversation? Nope, the software wasn’t good enough. And, he hated having to talk into a mic.

Then I realized: he didn’t care when I wrote my status report, only that it showed up in his inbox on time. I could add details every time I completed a bit of work. The information would still be fresh in my brain. I’d be less likely to leave out essential information.

This worked better for me. I felt more motivated.

Change the form of the value you provide

And yet, I still felt like it was a big hassle. I felt overwhelmed by all the detail I was recording. I would go crazy if I were the one having to sort through all this detail.

Wait…this is for performance reviews and promotion proposals? So the value isn’t the raw details of what we did, but the impact of our actions?


Might stories about that impact be more valuable?


I love telling stories.

Now, I felt fully motivated.

Fire your excitement

Once you know the why, the value of your work, you may discover it contains an ember of excitement. Kindle that ember into flames of contentment by taking these three steps:

  1. Start by asking questions to learn the value you’re being asked to provide. I thought I was providing status. Instead, I was providing review and promotion fodder.
  2. Then, modify how we provide that value by removing the bits that reduce our motivation. I changed my process from writing my status all in one go to building it up piece by piece over the week.
  3. Finally, change what we provide into a form that does motivate us. I dreaded listing all those details. In comparison, I loved telling the stories of my impact.

If you’re still not motivated? One or more of these steps has further to go. Try another iteration!

Did this help you kindle your excitement? Let me know in the comments!

Thoughts? Feedback? Something to say?

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