Today was a particularly down day for me. Nothing specific I can pinpoint that has made me feel this way – just woke up feeling a lack of motivation, not a whole bunch of drive and definitely no desire to exercise even though I logically know how much better I’d feel if I did.
But I didn’t.
I choose instead to wallow in my unmotivated self. And drink another cup of coffee while reading a fiction novel on the couch with the dogs.
Eventually, I got myself together, had a shower, got to work but it took a long time today. I was feeling pretty low on myself – annoyed by my lack of “get at it!” and then annoyed for feeling annoyed.
Then, I had my first Dream Catalyst session of the day. And it was awesome. The woman I’m working with had such a drive about her, such self-confidence, such a kick-ass attitude and it was contagious! As I said to her, I want to bottle today’s attitude and bust it out and give it back to her on a day she’s feeling less-than-stellar…and also give it to myself on day’s like today.
Less-than-stellar days are totally okay. Required, almost, as a way to reset our internal compass and re-calibrate our priorities. I’ve been reading a lot about grit (thank you, Angela Duckworth!) and it’s relationship to perseverance and passion, which has resonated a lot. I also read Pete Carroll’s book, Win Forever, on vacation last week and his message was about showing up, competing with yourself to be your best self while also taking time to reflect and figure out what makes you tick and where the opportunities are, so you can “win forever”. (I wrote my own personal and professional philosophy after reading this book…but that’s a blog for another time 🙂
I’ve been trying a few of these techniques over the last six weeks or so, to figure out my best methods to get, and keep, myself re-motivated. The past six weeks have been tougher than usual, with a lot of change involved, and I’ve found intentionally looking at different motivation techniques has really helped. I’ll outline a few below in case you’re looking for something to try.
Out with the To-Do List, in with the Achieve This list
I love making lists! I use them in all aspects of my life and a list for work-related tasks is no exception. Launching this new Hope business while keeping on top of my existing businesses and continuing to do a little consulting, I’m finding my to-do lists are never ending and in fact, seem to be getting longer instead of shorter, even though I am crossing things off. Rachel Hollis has a solution for this in her book, Girl, Stop Apologizing. She suggests that instead of creating a to-do list, create an Achieve This list where you write down the top two or three (only!) things you’ll achieve that day. Maybe they’re things off a longer to-do list…that’s totally cool. But this Achieve This list can’t be more than two or three items long because the point is I need to accomplish those things, at the minimum, and I’ll feel I’m successful for the day. Not setting myself up to fail with a to-do list that’s 15 items long with no chance of being completed in a regular day. So far, this one seems to be working 🙂
Procrastination is my Enemy
I can be the Queen of Procrastination – this might be one of the biggest pain/reward scenarios of my life. I did some research on procrastination this week as part of the micro-lessons I send to my Dream Catalyst clients and one of the things I learned is that human brains are wired to value immediate rewards more highly that future rewards because we love, love, love instant gratification. Our future selves loving making plans for “tomorrow” and our present selves kibosh those plans as soon as tomorrow is today. I can’t even tell you how passionately this resonated with me. One of the combat techniques I learned as part of this research was something called Temptation Bundling, developed by Katy Milkman through her research at the University of Pennsylvania (the university I’m going to go to someday!). Milkman’s theory supports bundling a behaviour that is good for you in the long-run with something that feels good in the short-term (she even has a YouTube video about it, if you’re interested). So, I’m trying to do a few of these things: listen to podcasts while on a run, eating a yummy snack while writing these blog posts and grabbing a coffee at the grocery store while stocking up. My present self feels satisfied and I’m contributing to my future success at the same time.
Mindset, the Environment, Everything
When I shifted my focus from consulting full-time to building my Hope business full-time, a big initiative I focused on was rearranging my home office to calibrate my mindset on what was now a number one priority, my work on Hope. I moved my computer monitors so they’re attached to my Hope laptop and disconnected any external devices from my consulting laptop, thus minimizing the importance of my consulting hours in the grand scheme of things (don’t worry consulting clients, when I’m focused on my efforts with you, it’s still 100% focus – just not so much of my working time 🙂 ). I also cleared half my desk and pointed my chair towards the big sliding glass windows in my office, where I now spend a lot of time writing with pen and paper, not electronically. The beauty of the outside, the unobstructed view and fresh open desk space seriously and positively contributes to my creativity. I’ve also set boundaries and scheduled my time to better focus and not multi-task. I am available to my consulting clients each morning and around noon, I close my consulting laptop giving my brain the signal that it’s time to shift gears back to work on Hope. These little actions to change my working environment had, and continue to have, such a huge impact on my motivation. I’m going to continue looking for more environmental opportunities as I really feel like the reward is big on these simple changes.
I hope these techniques resonated with you. My motivation ebbs and flows and my techniques to combat those feelings will continue to evolve. I’d honestly love to hear any ideas you have for motivation techniques that have worked for you – please send me a note or drop a line in the comments if you have others to share! And if you have a bottle of motivation lying around, send it my way.