As a leader, you motivate and inspire others. But what motivates you? Are you as motivated as you were when you started your career? Are you as motivated as when you got into this role?
Have you ever wished you could motivate yourself a bit more?
Do you wonder why some days you are so motivated and yet others you battle to get your mood up?
Would your day go better if you could motivate yourself more?
Now is always a good time to motivate yourself, but I believe it starts ‘before the morning’.
How I feel this morning is a function of what I did yesterday and the days before that. It’s also a function of how I feel about work, what I’ve eaten, how I have slept, how active I’ve been, how aligned I am with my goals, what my relationships are like (both in and out of the office), what I have to look forward to… and so much more. I’ll cover the long term motivational factors in another post.
On a simple superficial level, let me start with right now. How can you motivate yourself right now?
Set your intention for the day:
I’m assuming you want to be motivated and get things done (or you might not bother to read this!), so start with deciding that you will do things with enthusiasm and energy, even if you’re not feeling like doing so.
EVERYTHING STARTS WITH A DECISION. Decide to become motivated and you’re half way there (if you have the other factors working as I’ve mentioned below).
If you are sitting hunched over (as we are tempted to do while working on computers or mobile devices) then our body releases more cortisol than it needs to. This tells the body you are under stress, which makes it really hard to be motivated. The minute you put your shoulders back, then your body feels more in control and is less likely to go into stress-mode. Sounds exactly like something my mother would tell me to do, and I would be tempted to roll my eyes. Now I find myself telling my clients (and my teens) the same thing!
Write your Gratitude List:
Yes I know you might have heard me say this before, but writing in your Attitude of Gratitude Journal is a key part of having a great mindset, an awesome attitude and a healthy heart. Yes, writing a gratitude list has been proven to increase cardiac health as well as our happiness. When we focus on being grateful for what we have, it is a motivating factor to do what we are put on this earth to do.
Whenever a normally motivated person tells me they have lost motivation, focusing on gratitude is the fastest way to get it back.
Look at your Goals for the week:
Goals drive us and keep us motivated if they are the right goals for us. I’ll go through this more in another blog. Look at both your goals and your action steps for the week. When you are clear on what needs to be achieved, by when, it helps to get us out of a lull. If you don’t have any goals for the week, then create one! The right goals motivate you. The wrong goals demotivate you.
Go for a walk.
Get out of the office and move. Exercise is a very important part of feeling motivated. Movement in our body creates movement in other areas too. Make it easier to motivate yourself by getting the blood pumping around your body. Mindset is affected by what is going on in our body. While we can change mindset without doing all these other things, it makes it so much easier to have a positive outlook when we support our body with what it needs. Research shows that even a 20 minute walk can elevate our mood. Sitting at a desk can be demotivating.
List your success
When we go through a lull, or feel unmotivated, it’s easy to forget how good we actually are! This is a topic I am very passionate about – as I see so many senior leaders who are talented and good at what they do, but they forget this! One of the first things I do as an executive coach is to ask what has been achieved in previous careers. When we list what we have achieved, even if it’s 20 years ago – it helps us to remember that we are capable, that we can do what we decide to do. This is particularly important if you are feeling like you can’t get motivated.
Retrenchments, financial setbacks or restructuring can affect your motivation – remember this when you are talking to your team as each person could respond differently.
Recognise how much you have done.
I was talking with a senior executive the other day who told me she hasn’t done much. She felt she simply wasn’t achieving and didn’t feel very motivated. She asked me to help her ‘get my happy back!’.
After talking to her for a bit I discovered that she had moved countries with her husband, he was working FIFO (fly-in, fly-out) away for two weeks at a time. Her role had become more demanding, becoming a senior leader of her team. Both her parents had passed away in the last 5 years and her daughter had been diagnosed with a serious illness, which fortunately she had overcome.
All of these events rate very highly on the most stressful events scale. So even though she felt she hadn’t ‘achieved’ much at work (her perception!) – she had made it through all these events – still sane (although she was wondering about this too!). When she looked at all of these things, she could see that she had actually done really well, keeping things going in spite of all these events. It was both a calming and motivating realisation that the last five years had been very, very challenging, but she had made it through. Now she can focus on the goals she is really excited about.
Before we migrated from South Africa to Australia, I didn’t realise what a big deal it was – how much we actually go through. It’s only 9 years later, looking back, that I can appreciate how much we have actually achieved in spite of challenges and set-backs. The turbulence sometimes helped us achieve our goals quicker, even though it wasn’t very comfortable!
Do something that charges your batteries:
Walking on a beach is one of my favourite ways to recharge, get fresh air and exercise and top-up my soul.
We each have our own skillset, our own abilities and personality. What you love to do is not necessarily what others love to do. Pick two things that you can do today, that you really enjoy doing. I love working with senior and emerging leaders and seeing their eyes light up and hear the hope and excitement in their voice when we talk about the results they have achieved from working together. I love hearing about their success. This kind of feedback energizes me: “My team are so energised, the atmosphere here is simply amazing” to “You made me realise that it’s ok to be me”.
My gift is helping senior and emerging leaders to maximise their unique gift, so when I’m doing this, it charges my batteries. What charges your batteries?
Keep it simple:
It’s really tempting, when you know that your thoughts create your reality, to overthink things. If your car is running low on fuel (or gas as they say in the USA!), then you head to the nearest petrol station to fill it up. Some of us leave it longer than others to see how far we can run on empty….
If your car needs oil, then get an oil change. If the tyres need pumping, fill them with air. We take it for regular services so that it can keep running reliably. If you can’t see out the front windscreen, then clean it.
If you’re feeling low, like your batteries are flat and that you have no energy left – then don’t keep running and hope it will get better. You need to fill your tank with good healthy food. Your batteries get recharged with 8-9 hours sleep each night* and your lungs need pure air to breathe. Your water tank needs to be topped up with water. It’s not that complex. When your body has been given what it needs, then your mind is free to do what it needs to do – to be creative, to think up solutions, to see problems before they become real problems.
Trying to do advanced things are impossible if you don’t take care of the basics. Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way! Motivation is really simple if you are prepared to put the right building blocks in place.
*Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington is a great read if you’re feeling tired and wondering why!
Feed your mind positive food :
Read a few pages of a book that inspires you. Listen to a motivational CD or audio. Watch an inspiring youtube video. Read great blogs. This is why I do the Chooseday message every fortnight on a Tuesday, to dripfeed uplifting, positive content that makes you think. Reading and hearing positive messages helps us to motivate ourselves. It’s the constant positive mind-food that is important. If you’ve been feeding junk in there and you only get a few positive hits in, it’s not quite the same as if you cut down on the junk and feed 80% positive in.
How motivated are you feeling right now? I’ve only covered a few things in this blog post, read more of my blog for other insights.
Have an awesome day,
Jill Hutchison is an executive coach working with senior and emerging leaders in Perth. Jill does keynote talks on the topics of Diversity, Strategic Conversations and Cognitive Leadership.