Motivation is directly linked to self-esteem. When we have belief and confidence in ourselves coupled with clearly identified goals, we’re more likely to propel forwards. If we have goals set but diminished faith in our own ability to achieve, we are less likely to push onwards. In fact, if we have derogatory self-talk that emphasises not being good enough, worthy enough, capable enough and so on, we’re unlikely to begin any work at all. ‘What’s the point?’ we’ll reflect.
Today marks the first working day of the year and the first day back at school for many. Here in the UK everyone able to is working from home and most secondary school pupils are starting the new term online. We are in month 10 of the pandemic and morale is low. Freezing hail pelts down outside, news reports are unrelentingly depressing and positive mental health feels ethereal.
In my household, I now have 6 workstations set up; 3 home-schoolers and 3 home-workers. As the single parent and only adult in the home (disregarding the 2 x 18 year olds) I am in charge of food-shopping, cooking, laundry, domesticity, overall regimes and maintaining a semblance of routine and organisation in the house. I’m currently sitting at my dining room table, the drone of ice pounding the lantern rooves, blow heater wafting at my feet, boxes of half packed away xmas decs glaring at me, little people bobbing in and out incessantly, shoulders, back and wrists aching already as I dream of an ergonomically optimised desk, trying to resist the coffee and festive chocolates as the new year detox begins (*already failed by end of writing), sludgy in my slippers with fleece blanket on my cold knees, I’m lonely and missing the energy of friends and colleagues in the flesh… boy is it taking every single ounce of motivation to get into the 2021 work flow.
I am renowned as a motivator. Freshly in my corporate inbox, my annual 360 reviews testify repeatedly that I’m apparently a highly motivational leader (“excelling even in a pandemic”). I get booked as a motivational speaker. I inspire and MOTIVATE. And yet, upon this bleak, cold and frosty morn, even I am being tested indeed.
Aware that today would be tough, indeed the coming weeks and months perhaps so too, these are the 4 areas I recommend embracing for solid self-esteem to boost motivational flow:-
- Physical Health = Think Well & Glow
When we blend good nutrition with optimal sleep, regular exercise and healthful relaxation we become the best version of ourselves. This blend sees us using the innate resources available to us to best effect. Unsurprisingly when we’re well rested, properly fed and relaxed we soar at a level of natural peak performance. We make stronger decisions, are calmer and steadier in interactions and output. We handle stress more considerately. As an added benefit we look better too; we glow with vitality.
Overindulging across the festive break is normal but it makes the return to purity, or stepping into detox mode, harder. Temporarily, you’re just going to have to swallow the pain as you lock the booze and chocolates away in the garage, or switch to those de-caff non-dairy lattes again. The headaches may come, the low energy slumps may debilitate you with tiredness and you may even get swollen glands as the lymphatic system drains away the toxins from all the indulgence. Suffer through these side effects sadistically in the knowledge they’ll last only 24 hours, possible a few days, but once you emerge out the other side you’ll be stabilised energetically and have a natural zing that will see you buzzing higher than where any of those champagne cocktails took you last week!
Likewise, with exercise, push on through the pain. The prospect of a workout may feel abhorrent so start with micro steps. Put the gear on, forget the 5k challenge and just start with the promise of 3 mins of activity, get into it and see where it takes you. I set out yesterday in a reluctant mindset for a new year run and before I knew it (and much to the joy and bemusement of my exhausted dalmatian) I’d covered 11k. That tentative foray into activity yielded a rainbow, snow-storm, mud-wading, audio book learning and I felt utterly invigorated by the end. Starting small is key. One small step and all that. For me the ritual of combing my hair into a high ponytail signals it’s time to exercise. The simple activity alerts my body that it’s time to move. 20 years of this same routine has created the neural association – hair up equals fitness focus. Identify your ‘positive physicality’ trigger and start there.
Key to self-esteem building here is avoiding any chastisement if you slip up on any idealised eating or exercise habits. Don’t focus on denial but on crowding out the bad stuff by packing in the good. Don’t berate yourself for not working out, but indulge in an aromatherapy bath instead. Focus on self-love as core to self-esteem in all the ways which enrich you.
- Create = Pride & Pleasure
This one’s about the soul stuff. The nourishing, satisfying, don’t-pay-me-I’ll-do-it-anyway gig. When you do things you love and care passionately about your energy automatically increases. When you do something frivolous and fun you commit to it wholeheartedly without agenda, just because. As you immerse into creativity, in whatever guise stimulates you most, you find your focus and flow. Boundless output pours and there are no limits to your potential. Whether it’s preparing a rainbow salad, reorganising your wardrobe by colour palettes, writing a novel, grooming your dog, planning an event or designing a new business plan, when you’re captivated by the idea and the manifestation of it, you will hit a high vibration, excited state. It doesn’t matter how small or large a project or moment, you’ll be serving an instinctive human need to create. You’ll enjoy the doing as much as the done. At each stage you’ll feel levels of pleasure, and the more you accomplish the more satisfaction and sense of pride you’ll build.
On New Year’s Eve I decided to create a pizza-making party for the kids. They hadn’t demanded entertainment, but I realise I actually get a happy kick out of my Mary Poppins antics. I love creating novel experiences for young ones and genuinely get a high from their joy. It’s something lockdown has highlighted to me that I create these moments as much for me as for them! I enjoy the planning, the preparation, the delivery and the raucous excitement of the kids when we do something different that expands their minds and brings us all together. Simple pleasures that yes take effort but there’s joy in that effort and such wholesome reward in the activity. So, amidst flour, sliced olives, pepperoni and grated mozzarella aplenty we donned aprons, listened to ridiculous pop (Gummi Bears, yup!) and created our own mini pizzeria. Whilst the pizzas cooked, we pushed Mentos into coke bottles and set off mini rockets in the garden. It was chaotic, messy heaven. We all enjoyed ourselves and the clearing up was no bother as I was feeling accomplished, satisfied and happy with my self-esteem boosted for sure.
Think about the activities which leave you feeling replete and proud of yourself. Do more of them.
- Graft & Grit = Excellent Output
Working hard is a fact of life. I don’t condone working until you hit the burnout zone ever, but intellectual excellence is essential to deliver strong output. What you put in comes out. When we apply ourselves with gritty determination and unwaveringly focus on a project to the best of our ability, we progress at pace and experience quality results and inevitable emotional rewards. Is it promotion you’re after? Prosperity? Business growth? A more bloomy garden? An immaculate home? Cleaner children?! Whatever our work is, doing it with full attention and purpose will deliver the best results. To do this takes intelligent time management, conscious prioritisation and absolute clarity on goals (SMART, Soul & Why are the 3 ways to maximise your goal setting – taught in my book Flourish & ESCAPE model).
I’m currently working on my next book and devoted time over the festive period to wholeheartedly immersing myself into this passion project. I am rivetted by the research I’m undertaking exploring the history of love, societal and cultural influences on marriage across time and the globe, divorce statistics and what it takes to create solid, enduring relationships. It is dream work which I am enjoying. However, I loosely dip in and out of the project as it’s not my core work and I’m not doing it for commercial gain. There is an ambition to secure a publishing contract though. To address these factors and ensure I’m accountable to myself in delivering a completed tome in 2021, one which will ideally be picked up by a reputable publisher, I’ve sourced a fantastic editor. I will now thus work with a best-selling author I feel a real kinship to, who will elevate my words into absolute excellence. We are designing the work schedule, the realistic timelines, the priorities and so on. I know it is going to take significant effort and commitment to deliver this but with absolute certainly know that I will write a book I’m proud of before the year is out.
Within this goal, within this strategic plan to deliver and within the work itself comes self-esteem bubbling up once more.
- Love without expectation
Scientists have proven the link between kind deeds eradicating depression and healing diseases. When we focus on giving to others and step into true selflessness everything improves physically, mentally and spiritually. Similarly, when our relationships are harmonious we experience an equilibrium of personal peace. It is within our power to enable all of this.
Expressing love through words, actions or simple presence has a magical effect on self-esteem. Think about the heady oxytocin surge when in the throes of romantic love. In this state life is abundant in possibilities and we’re walking on air, soaring through our days productive, happy and effortlessly caring.
Right now, with morale low as we drift into another year with no immediate signs of the pandemic abating, more than ever we need to embrace each other with compassion and a giving state. Now is the time to love without fear of rejection and without agenda, and to simply focus on the giving. It’s infectious.
Whether loving family members, working with colleagues, emailing customer service staff, think about the words you use and the gestures you share as it all matters. As Maya Angelou famously quoted “People forget what you said or you did, but they always remember how you made them feel.”
The ripples of your own loving course through the recipient and knowing deep inside your heart that you’re spreading love and doing good is another essential way to find your self-esteem solid and strong.
SIMPLE STEPS WITH TRANSFORMATIONAL IMPACT
Motivation at its essence is our drive to do things. It’s the element that keeps us moving towards our goals. It fluctuates based on our self-control and external circumstances. Where so much is beyond our control right now extrinsically, focussing on the above 4 areas is a start in boosting the motivation levels we need to kick 2021 into shape.
Wishing you love and luck mastering your to-do list!