Be your own Mr(s) Motivator!
“I can’t be bothered.”
A phrase uttered by teenagers the world over! But although we might not say it out loud (or perhaps we do?), we adults can also be afflicted by a severe case of ‘meh’. You know the feeling: there’s something we know needs doing, but we just can’t be bothered. We’d much rather be doing something else.
When you’re feeling that way, you probably do one of four things: you choose to push through, forcing yourself to do it anyway; you choose to do other things until eventually it becomes urgent and you no longer have a choice; you choose to ignore it completely and suffer the consequences; or you choose to bury your head in the sand, hope it’ll go away and don’t even think about the consequences!
Now of course there’s nothing wrong with any of those options (although I’d argue that the last one is pretty risky and best avoided). The reality is that we’re not going to feel motivated 100% of the time. And no matter how much we love what we do, if we decided only to do things when we felt motivated to do them, we probably wouldn’t make much progress.
But there are things you can do to coax your motivation and enthusiasm out of hiding when all you want to do is nothing much.
1) Use music to get your head in the zone
Whatever genre of music you prefer, I think most of us have a go-to tune that makes us feel AMAZING whenever we hear it. Before you sit down to work, give yourself a blast of your favourite music (crazy dancing is optional). That should give you a hit of feel-good vibes that will put you in a positive frame of mind when you sit down to tackle your work.
2) Use movement to give your body a wake-up call
If you’ve already had a bop to your favourite tune, you’ve got this one covered! If not, consider what kind of movement makes your body feel good. Whether that’s going out for a walk or a run round the block, doing some yummy stretches to work out the kinks or running up and down the stairs a couple of times, get moving and literally shake yourself out of your lethargy.
3) Create the right environment.
Do you like to have music playing whilst you work, or are you better able to concentrate when things are quiet? Stick some music on or turn the music off! Do you need people around you, or are you better off alone? If you have the option, take yourself off to a café/busy office/co-working space, or shut yourself away in your office. What else can you introduce into your environment that will help you to get motivated. For example, I use essential oils in a diffuser – eucalyptus to pep me up or lavender to calm me down.
4) Ask yourself (or your boss or client) ‘why?’
Why do you need to do the thing you just can’t get motivated to do? (This thing will now be referred to as The Thing Of Doom.) I don't mean that you should ask 'why' in a way that makes you sound like a petulant teenager! I mean asking 'why' to ensure you understand how The Thing Of Doom fits into the bigger picture. The answer won’t always be inspiring, but hopefully it’ll give you a sense of purpose. If you’re struggling to find a good reason why something needs to be done, consider whether you actually need to do it at all. I do understand that there may be times when your boss asks you to do something and you really don’t see the point. If your boss refuses to engage in a discussion around that, unfortunately you may have no choice. But you can still choose to deploy some of these tips to help you get through it with minimal misery!
5) Make a deal with yourself
Tell yourself that once you’ve done the Thing Of Doom, you’re going to take yourself out for a coffee and a slice of cake. Or give yourself 15 minutes in the garden with a book and a cuppa. Or go out for a lovely walk. Reward yourself with whatever feels like a treat to you (preferably something ‘healthy’ – telling yourself you’ll buy those Jimmy Choos you’ve had your eye on for ages is probably not a sustainable habit to get into….).
6) Find some accountability
If making a deal with yourself just doesn’t cut it, find someone to keep you accountable. You see, many of us will follow through with things when we know someone else is relying on us. But we’re not so good at keeping the promises we make to ourselves. So, tell someone that you intend to do the Thing of Doom and when you will be finished. Then get them to check in with you at the allotted time. Knowing that you’re going to have to explain yourself if you haven’t done what you promised can be a powerful motivator, particularly if the accountability buddy you’ve chosen doesn’t take any prisoners when it comes to terrible excuses!
7) Ready…. Steady…. GO! Set a timer.
This is a great one to jumpstart you into action. If you can’t find the motivation you need to do The Thing Of Doom in its entirety, surely you can manage to focus on it for 20 minutes? Set a timer. Hit go. And then work like the clappers until the binger goes bong. Then you can take a 5-10 minute break (and deploy a mini reward if that would help) before starting all over again. Set a timer for 20 minutes. Hit go. Work like crazy. You can keep going like that, or you may find that once you get going you suddenly find yourself feeling motivated after all. Sometimes all we need is to start, and injecting a little false urgency can be really helpful. (Having the theme to Countdown playing in the background is entirely optional.)
So when you can’t be bothered, don’t mooch around waiting for enthusiasm or inspiration to strike. Try some of these techniques and see if it’s possible to be your own Mr(s) Motivator!
(Those of you from the UK will understand what I mean when I say that I decided to spare you the lycra when looking for an image for this post. But if you need some inspiration to get you moving, you could always give this a go!)