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An Early New Year’s Resolution:

In a few weeks we’ll be inundated with articles on making New Year’s resolutions, how to be this or that. So I’m going to give you a head start by sharing a few of my favorite tricks to help you recharge and get motivated again.

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I’m going to give you a head start by sharing a few of my favorite tricks to help you recharge and get motivated again.

As we near the end of what has been a year most people would rather not remember, so many of us are feeling like we’ve run out of gas, overwhelmed by the constantly shifting goalposts of work and life.  We’ve gone from feeling like “we got this,” to “enough already.”

What happens to us when that initial burst of enthusiasm and rush of energy is gone? When we just can’t muster up the strength, when we’re at the sensation of “enough already?”  We are left feeling lethargic, and worse, unmotivated and cranky. Just know that you are not alone in this phenomenon. Friedrich Nietzsche, one of the most influential thinkers of our time, recognized this state of mind when he wrote, “A subject for a great poet would be God’s boredom after the seventh day of creation.”  (Can you imagine a bored God?)  

In a few weeks we’ll be inundated with articles on making New Year’s resolutions, how to be this or that.  So I’m going to give you a head start by sharing a few of my favorite tricks to help you recharge and get motivated again.

Remember – motivation has to come entirely from within.  Take some time for yourself and try these four easy exercises. They will help you get right back in the game.

#1 – Think of Something You Really Love to Do.

This may seem obvious – but not as much as you think. For example, what happens when it’s late into the work day, and a small project sits on your desk. It’s likely that you’re not going to feel motivated to work on it, and if you do, you’re unlikely to be at your best. Instead of forcing yourself to begin something when you’re just not ready to dig in, close your eyes and think about something that makes you happy – especially something that activates your mind and body.

When I find myself staring out the window, unable to face the tasks in front of me, I usually find myself thinking about hiking. I love hiking, and I get a rush just thinking about the next time I can go on a hike. It makes me happy; it gets my mind flowing and my body energized. And – guess what – I find that I can apply myself at work, just because I have emotionally given myself a boost. P.S. If I am really struggling I might take a moment to look at some of the pictures I took during my last hike or remember what I was feeling.

#2 – Choose a Reward for Getting Back to Being Productive.

It can be as simple as getting yourself an ice cream, taking an indulgent soak in the tub or splurging on a new outfit. If you can get your mind back “on the job” you will deserve a reward. Treat yourself – you deserve to be indulged!  Knowing that a job well done will earn you a personal reward, your promise to yourself will be a great motivator. If you need immediate gratification, reward yourself in the moment if possible.  One of the ways I reward myself with it going on hikes.  I now schedule weekly hikes and treat this time as sacred. Being in nature has made me more productive.

#3 – Give Yourself a Break.

Do the first two suggestions not work for you? If so, you probably just need to walk away from your desk and any remaining non-motivational tasks. Do it!! Seriously, if your mind has been going at full throttle and you are feeling the boredom setting in, just take a walk.  Leave your office, go outside and walk around the block.   Drink some cold water or meditate for five minutes. If you are working from home you can do the dishes or fold laundry or talk with a friend and still feel productive. Any break will help you with resetting your internal computer.

#4 – Use the Sugar and NOT the Spice Approach.

When all else fails and you want to give yourself negative feedback for procrastinating, resist and instead think of rewarding yourself for positive behavior instead. Why? Because so many of you are still motivated by fear and instead of affirming the status quo, let’s do something that will actually work in the long run.  All of us grew up with years of “negative consequences” but research has shown us that positive feedback and rewards are much more effective than threats, fear and force. Perhaps negative consequences will get you going again but you will most likely have to shock your system.  If you have a long history of not keeping your agreements with yourself or finishing your commitments, you may want to have a serious conversation about who is running the show in your life. You have too many internal masters and not enough directions.  Figure out what is important and then take baby steps.  

Here is an example of a positive reward from a client who was temporarily stuck and had to finish a proposal by week’s end. He promised himself a reward of a very expensive bottle of whiskey he had been craving, and a “punishment” or consequence of failure was having his mother stay with him for a week!  Do I have to tell you the end of the story? (He finished the proposal and indulged!)   Try this technique on for size and see what works for you.

We all get stuck and don’t know how to move forward at times. If you are seriously stuck you need to take a deeper look at what is going on, if it is a temporary stuckness, practice these steps. The key to success is to figure out how to re-motivate, re-energize and re-apply yourself. These simple coaching tips will help every time and get you back to the place where you can say, “I got this!” 

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