Motivation strategies that actually work

Having breakfast with business friends on a recent rainy, cold morning, it was clear that every one of us needed some motivation to get past the idea of how nice it would be to return home and spend the day with a good book.

The coach of a movie sports team would have fired everyone up with a halftime pep talk. Instead, we helped each other get fired-up.

Everyone needs an occasional mental health day in order to regenerate both our minds and bodies. We have all had that morning with motivational challenges. Our breakfast group had a good discussion about what to do on “off” days when our energy is low.

To find out if there are good ways to autocorrect your motivation on a down day, I asked one of my life and business coach friends for tips. Here are some ideas for how you can perform well even when your motivation wanes:

  • Give yourself an incentive. Treat yourself with a visit to — or even just drive through — your favorite coffee shop on the way to work. Meet friends for breakfast therapy.
  • Take things one step at a time. Do only what you can do and don’t overload the morning’s to-do list. Don’t try to multitask — too many projects on the desk may add to your morning blahs. If a big project needs attention, try to break it into manageable pieces.
  • Plan a lunch hour visit to the public library or the mall for some retail therapy. One of my business friends often uses lunch hours for “walking meetings” at places like Olbrich Gardens.
  • Use a mantra like: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Or, “It’s a good day to have a good day.” Or, “You don’t have to go fast. You just have to go.” Or, “Believe you can and you’re half way there.”
  • Make things easier. Cross off a couple things from the unimportant part of the to-do list. Skip the lunchtime or after-work errands that can wait till a less hectic day.
  • Help someone else. Whether it’s opening a door for them, offering a ride, or bringing treats to work, making others feel good will help to make you feel good.
  • Be grateful. Focus on the good parts about going to work rather than on the reasons you’d like to stay home. Gratefulness attracts good energy.
  • Shift your thinking from “Too much to do and too little time” to “What can I learn from this project?” Shifting your thinking can help you to get fired-up again.
  • It’s your choice. You can choose to do or you can choose not to do. Reframing our language to “choose to do” can be exactly the motivator to help get you started.
  • Play to your strengths. We all want to improve upon our weaknesses, but sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in a rut when improvement doesn’t come easily. Spending time thinking about and working on your strengths can actually help to renew your energy.
  • Get plenty of rest. There’s a direct correlation between getting adequate sleep and the morning-after blahs.

It’s hard to stay motivated all the time. However, when it comes to getting results, motivation plays a key role.

My breakfast group all agreed that addressing small things like those listed above can contribute to changing your feeling from “Ugh, it’s a lousy morning” to “I can do this!”

Better self-care can revitalize and refuel you for the day ahead. I’d add the incentive of making an appointment for a massage to the list of “feel betters.”

I can imagine you may have some good ideas, too. Let’s hear them!

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