Times when motivation is sorely needed:
Your alarm practically screams it out as it tauntingly tries to force you out of bed after hitting snooze five times already. You slowly drag one leg out of bed as you consider the pros and cons of faking a sick day…
Ugh! Your immediate reaction as you prepare to walk into the building you spend most of your time. Another day in paradise… you sarcastically think. Who will be wasting my time today?
You cringe as you finally lower the memo after reading it for the third time. I’ve heard that a talk with the boss is never a good thing! And why only on Friday? The next four days are gonna suck!
You reread the memo. Why don’t they ever tell a guy what they want to discuss? Is it about that stats issue 4 months ago? I know the results were off by a couple of points, but I have legitimate reasons for those. And what do they mean by saying…
These are some scenarios I can think of to describe that feeling when you just want to quit. Maybe you can relate to the above, or can add a couple of personal scenarios, right?
And then you may even feel a little guilty for having these negative thoughts and feelings in the first place.
We all experience these kinds of scenarios, and I’ve seen people just having it drag on as they wallow in self-pity, waiting for better days – I’ve done it too.
To avoid this, you have to be a bit more proactive in dealing with such situations. It’s no use waiting for others to motivate you.
Let’s look at how we can make the most of every moment of our lives.
“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”
– Lou Holtz
Learn to recognise where these times and feelings of demotivation, or unmotivation, originates. What causes you to feel like wanting to run away from the boredom some days?
Being unmotivated means not having interest in or enthusiasm for something, especially work or study, whereas being demotivated implies that some external factor causes you to be less eager to do something. You as the reader may keep either one in mind as you read.
I think being proactive could be considered as a skill on its own because I’m not saying it’s easy. Life will always present different scenarios and situations. Therefore, you need different ways of motivating yourself.
It’s about getting to know yourself better. In life’s different scenarios there will always be recognisable triggers of unmotivation or demotivation, and it may change as you age.
A few simple examples:
When I was younger, I may have been easily affected by what I thought people were saying and thinking of me (like most other people). I would quickly get down in the dumps because of someone’s remarks. Maybe just a comment on the size of my nose might have upset me!
Although, now that I’m older these mundane things became less likely to bother me and it may be easier for a weak stock report to pull my demotivation-triggers.
An example of an unmotivation-trigger is not knowing your purpose, such as forgetting the initial reason why you are doing what you are doing. These triggers may also come from a harsh or overwhelming work environment with ungrateful or cynical people or expectations of yourself or others that are too high.
These explanations may sound oversimplified, but it’s an indication of how we can identify the triggers.
What not to do
Do not pin your happiness on one thing.
This statement sounds obvious in theory, but not if you look around.
For example, I all too well understand the power of comfort food, but if I grab for potato chips every time I feel down, soon enough it will become worse for my health.
This kind of thing is precisely what so many people do.
Or, what if you have that person in your life who always makes you feel better when you’re down? Only focusing on that as your motivational source will place a strain on the relationship. I’ve seen behaviour like this turn into an obsession, and when things in the relationship changed, it resulted in hurt for a long time.
You know the saying, too much of a good thing…?
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”
– Zig Ziglar
How to start motivating yourself
If you like your job, you would probably want to be better at it. If you don’t like it and quitting isn’t an option, I’m sure you’d want to make it a bit more bearable for yourself, right?
Here are some tips to be more motivated, productive and even have a little fun.
Here we go:
This too shall pass. This is one of my ‘go-to’ self-talk phrases. In a situation where I just want to get over with it, I remind myself that the world turns and nothing goes on forever. Every second that passes or every step I take brings me closer to the end.
Know this AA rule. “God, grant me the calmness to accept the things I can’t change, have the courage to change the things I can and have the wisdom to know the difference”. There’s a reason it works for Alcoholics Anonymous. Don’t allow your thoughts and emotions to run around. Focus on the way you react and how to keep peace at that moment.
What’s the worst that can happen? “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened” (Mark Twain). We tend always to imagine the worst things that could happen, but it usually turns out much better. So why put ourselves through this stress? “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Mat 6:34).”
Good company. There is, of course, the healthy side to using relationships to get motivated. My wife is an essential motivational source in my life. I can also turn to other friends. Using them in addition to some of the points listed here can become a powerful combination to help me “pull up my socks”, as they say.
Decision fatigue. This happens when you try to figure out too much stuff happening around you. I suggest starting by developing a better work environment (on your desk and in your head) that will boost your productivity. I use the Getting Things Done system to help me feel less stressed and more motivated. Google “decision fatigue” to learn more.
Prioritize sleep. Lack of sleep is probably one of my worst unmotivation triggers. When I’m tired, I’m unmotivated and sometimes just plain grumpy. I need to respect my body’s need for 7 – 9 hours of sleep per night, although ‘quality is better than quantity’. Read this article on sleep quality.
Do something else for a while. When I realise that I’m getting that drained zombie feeling, it’s sometimes related to what I’m doing at the moment. If I can, I will then shift to doing something else for a while. Try moving around to get the blood flowing. Take a walk, or eat lunch in a park. I realise that this is not always possible, but surely it is possible to eat somewhere away from your computer. Just a slight change of scenery can make a big difference.
Stick to your working hours. Go home. You are less likely to be productive after a long day at work when that last document might take two hours instead of one. Spend some time with your kids, watch a movie, or do something that you enjoy for a while. Then, come back refreshed the next day, and finish that last document in the one hour it’s supposed to take.
Positive self-talk. It’s an integral part of life starting in childhood. In children, it sparks the imagination. In adults, it has an impact on physical performance. What you say and how you refer to yourself is extremely important. If you’re interested in a more detailed explanation about the importance of self-talk, you can dive into this article.
Motivational videos and speeches. I don’t use this nearly as much as I want to because it’s quite time-consuming. There are countless of these on YouTube. You can find a YouTube channel entirely dedicated to this right here. Or just search for the topic that interests you. TED talks are also great material.
I hope this helps you to make self-motivation in the workplace easy and fun. It’s an essential part of being happy while enjoying what you do and be much more productive during your day.
You look at the memo from your boss again, you suddenly stop your thinking mid-sentence, realising the dark direction this train of thought is taking you. What’s that AA rule again?
You cheer up as you realise that you don’t necessarily know what will happen and you can’t change anything about it. And what’s the worst that could happen anyway?
If you have any thoughts or comments on this post, I would love to hear it. If you applied any of these tips, please share how it worked out for you.
As always, keep on living an exceptional life, making a difference.