Spark self-motivation as a project manager

The main responsibilities of a project manager include leading a team, managing schedules and budgets, and overcoming unexpected obstacles to make the project a success. A high level of self-motivation is essential in this role, as a self-motivated manager achieves more than one who has to force themselves to work. A prerequisite for self-motivation is an understanding of the personal benefits of one's work. This is particularly true for the project manager, who is a role model for his team members. Therefore, the importance of self-motivation for project managers should not be underestimated.
A chess piece.


Why is self-motivation important?

The term motivation originates from the verb movere (Latin: to move, to drive). Self-motivation is a driving force that project managers need in order to perform their work in a goal-oriented manner and to complete projects successfully. There are two types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation comes from external factors such as rewards, punishments or recognition from others. Intrinsic motivation comes from within and is driven by personal interests, goals and values.
For project managers, intrinsic motivation is crucial. They need to have a deep understanding of why their work is important and how it contributes to the success of the project. They need to have a positive attitude and believe that they can make the project a success.
However, if a project manager has low self-motivation, this can have a serious impact on the project. A project manager who is not self-motivated is unlikely to be able to motivate his team. This can lead to a lack of commitment and efficiency in the team. In addition, a project manager who is not self-motivated may find it difficult to overcome challenges and make decisions, which can lead to delays or even failure of the project.

Self-motivation techniques

To increase self-motivation, there are several methods and techniques that project managers can use to strengthen their intrinsic motivation and improve their performance in project management. 

Positive self-talk and self-affirmations

Positive self-talk and self-affirmations are a simple but effective technique to increase self-motivation. Formulating positive thoughts and beliefs about oneself and one's work can improve one's attitude and self-esteem so that one can focus on the goals. Goal setting and visualisation are also effective techniques to increase self-motivation. By setting clear goals and visualising how they will achieve them, project managers can strengthen their intrinsic motivation.

Effective time planning and prioritisation

Effective time planning and prioritisation are also important factors in increasing intrinsic motivation. By effectively scheduling and focusing on the most important tasks, project managers can increase their productivity and maintain their motivation.

Coping with setbacks and difficulties

Another important aspect of self-motivation is the ability to deal with setbacks and difficulties. Project management is rarely a smooth process, and it is normal for unexpected challenges to arise. However, it is important that project managers learn to deal with them and motivate themselves in order to remain productive and successfully complete the project. An effective way to deal with setbacks and difficulties is to reflect on past mistakes and learn from them. By accepting their mistakes and using their experiences to improve their skills and knowledge, project managers can strengthen their self-motivation and better prepare themselves for future challenges.

Success diary

A good, proven tool from the field of self-management to document successes and draw motivation from them for the future is the success diary. This method works both for individuals who create the diary for themselves and for project teams (personal and team success diaries).

Personal success diary

The success diary serves to consciously record successes and thus give them greater weight in one's own perception. Of course, this should not prevent you from reflecting on mistakes and learning from them. Almost everything can be interpreted positively and negatively at the same time - "the glass is half empty, but it is also half full". Those who have learned to see the good in negative situations and to view problems as opportunities can cope better even in difficult project and life situations. With a little training and discipline, it is easy to change your own perception. The picture shows the structure of a success diary.
Example of a success diary
The personal success diary should be the project manager's constant companion, whether kept in electronic or paper form. At least three successes should be entered every day - even if they seem small or self-evident (e.g. a successful presentation, a milestone reached on time).
Advantages of the personal success diary:
  • The diary owner develops a positive attitude. 
  • He learns to build himself up even through small successes.
  • He manages his personal knowledge by recording success strategies that he can fall back on later.
  • His self-confidence grows because he can prove to himself and others (e.g., in negotiations with superiors or financiers) how successfully he works. 
Team success diary

But not only an individual can keep a success diary, the whole team can also benefit from it. The team success diary should be easily accessible to all team members (e.g., on the meeting table or on the project homepage). Ideally, the project manager reminds the team at each meeting to enter team successes in the diary. Each staff member should contribute at least one entry each week. If the project manager quotes from the success diary at the beginning of each meeting, he creates a ritual that the staff quickly learn to appreciate and that strengthens the sense of unity.
Advantages of a team success diary:
  • The mood and motivation to work in the team can be increased (e.g. even in difficult projects or crisis situations).
  • A sustainable positive mood is created in the team. It makes working together more pleasant and thus increases performance.
  • Listing successes prevents the team from "sagging". These occur, for example, when a technical problem holds up the project or there is the threat of a dispute with the client.
  • The project manager can win the team over with a success diary. Because with its help he proves that he also registers and appreciates small successes.
  • He can present the diary to the client or top management at the project completion workshop. It functions as a kind of protocol that shows the team's commitment and performance in an unusual way.


A project manager who can motivate himself has a unique ability to approach his tasks with determination and drive. His inner drive, his goal orientation and his ability to constantly replenish his fuel make him a successful project manager. Of course, at the outset he has no more advantages than a project manager who does not know how to motivate himself. But he will be better able to recognize and seize the opportunities that present themselves. He also has a positive effect on his team, because he inspires them to stay motivated and committed by his example. Therefore, a self-motivated project manager can be seen as a valuable asset to any organisation, as he not only helps to achieve the goals of the project, but also has the potential to increase the commitment and motivation of the entire team.

Self-motivation - The author
Author: Dr. Roland Ottmann
Keywords: Project management, Self-motivation

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