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No matter how much we love our job, there are going to be days when it’s hard to keep at it and perform at our best. Some people are like the Energizer bunny and they leave the rest of us wondering how the heck they can keep going at such positive, productive levels. Motivation isn’t some magic trick or special skill people are born with, it – like everything else – takes practice and work. Most likely those Energizer bunnies have found the tools that motivate them day in and day out.
Zig Ziglar said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”
That’s part of the key to motivation – keep doing it daily. The other part is to find the things that work for you, which can be a challenge. Sometimes the tips and tricks heard for decades simply don’t work for certain people and don’t worry, there isn’t anything wrong with that. It isn’t always easy to find the tools or techniques that will fit you and your habits.
Motivation isn’t just about focus or enjoying what we’re doing – it’s also about having that drive and excitement to do it. Here are some ways that might help you get your motivation back when it’s lacking:
Routines tend to motivate people. For some, it’s the act of crossing items off a list, while for others it’s the practice of starting each day the same way. You’ll need a motivation routine that you can commit to in order to get your motivation up. Think of the hockey player that listens to the same music as he puts on his gear in the same order before each game. Your routine doesn’t need to be ritualistic, but having common elements every day will signal a time to get into your tasks.
Consider things like meditation, reviewing your tasks and goals and even pouring your coffee in your favourite mug.
Meditation can take as little as 10 minutes. Headspace is one great example of a meditation app that can help you relax, get focused and set up your day positively.
Always try to set up your task list for the next day at the end of the day. This prevents that chaotic moment (or half an hour) in the morning wondering what the priorities are. Setting them up the night before allows you to walk into a relatively established schedule. Sure things may go sideways during your day, but at least you’ll know what your priorities are and what to return to when the moments of distraction calm down. Some people swear by tools like Todist, while others use a plain paper list or a bullet journal. Check out bulletjournal.com for the basics on setting up a bullet journal and how it can help you stay organized.
You may think of your morning coffee as something you love that starts your day, but what if you saw it as the actual “start to your day”. Yes, I said the same thing there, but the point is that pouring coffee into your favourite mug can be something you do habitually, or you can make these morning activities into a signal to your body and mind of what you’re going to do next. Look at pouring your coffee as the thing you do before starting the most important project of the day. It’s a signal, like a ritual, but one you love and do naturally.
The Pomodoro technique is the practice of working while using a timer for 20 minutes at a time and taking a break in between. Work for those 20 minutes without stopping for distractions of any sort, then take a break for 5 minutes before continuing or going on to the next task. Make a separate list of what those breaks might include. For example, you’ll likely need to go to the washroom, refresh your water or grab a snack, but what if you use also that break to look up a tropical place you’ve always wondered about, take a walk around the office or ask your co-worker about their new phone? By engaging in little things you’re interested in, you’re motivated to reach the next break and in order to reach the next break, you need to put in the 20-minute block of work.
We all have a voice that speaks to us constantly. Sometimes it chatters away about how to do something while other times it can be downright nasty and take away our enthusiasm. When you’re facing a big task, what does that voice say? Is it telling you that you can’t do it? Is it saying you’re not able to do a good enough job? Tune in and listen, then ask yourself if what you’re hearing is true. Chances are the voice is just repeating old messages that don’t apply or maybe it’s trying to keep you from taking risks. Get to know the voice and if it’s really out of control consider some self-talk sessions or other forms of positive therapy to manage it better.
Often, when a task is given to us we feel reluctant to start because deep down we don’t understand its significance. Whether it’s a job your boss has given you or one you’ve taken on on your own, take a moment to consider why completing this task matters. Get to know the nitty-gritty of the importance of the work and really feel out how you’re contributing. If it helps, write a few words or phrases about how completing this task matters and read them as you continue to work on the project.
Advancing in your career is something you do for your own reasons, but it doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. Friends and colleagues care about your well-being and can help you along the way. If you’re finding you’re lacking in motivation, share it with someone positive and see if they have some solutions. Everyone has struggled with motivation at some point, so the most positive individuals in your circle will likely have a trick or two that worked and may be beneficial for you. Don’t be afraid to take someone else’s advice (especially the tips in this blog!) and twist it around to make it your own.