One day you are excited about life, your plans and what your future holds. Then slowly but surely, it becomes more difficult to finish a project. Soon you are struggling to complete even minor tasks.
You give vague responses when people ask you how things are going. You promise yourself that tomorrow will be different. You will get up earlier, you will exercise, and you will eat healthier. Tomorrow comes and you struggle out of bed, two hours later than planned and it all goes downhill from there; again. It really does not have to be that way.
Here are 7 steps that you can take to put the colour back into your working life:
Step 1: Have a do nothing day
In my book, I wrote a chapter titled “Step Back to Take Control”. Take those words to heart. Stop all the activity, the obsessing and the multi-tasking. For one day, give yourself the freedom to have nothing to do. If you have a job, arrange a day off.
Unless it is life or death, or will mean you lose money or a customer, don’t even attempt to clear your calendar. Just stop everything. On that day, get up when you are ready to get up and do not feel guilty about it. Make yourself a nice breakfast, sit in your favourite spot, and let the feeling of doing nothing wash over you. For an achiever, this is actually very hard to do. Give it a chance. You will start to gain the physical, emotional and mental space to take the next steps.
Step 2: Rearrange your working environment
Go to the place where you spend your working day and just stand there and look around. Does it feel cluttered, messy, disorganised? Are there too many items in the room or on the desk? Is the furniture arranged in a way that makes you feel ready to take on the day, or go back to bed?
Play some uplifting music, something that will make you sing or even dance. As you move around the room; throw out items that you no longer need. Put useful items to one side to give away. Rearrange the room, equipment and paperwork to create a space that you will look forward to entering each day.
“Environment is stronger than willpower.” – Paramahansa Yogananda
Step 3: Have a VIP strategy day for one
Step one and two are designed to help you feel less stressed. Nevertheless, the entrepreneurial mind does not ever really rest. And too much time away from what you need to do can actually cause anxiety. In your new workspace, identify the things that are pulling on your time and energy. Write them all down. Write them on actual paper with one item per line, and a whole line between each item. Take this notepad to a place that is away from your day to day life. I book an overnight stay in a hotel, but you could merely go to a coffee shop for a few hours. The one rule is it must be a place where you feel relaxed. The nicer the location, the better.
While you are there, ask yourself three questions:
- Why and for whom, am I really doing this?
- If you do achieve your plans how will your life be? Your health, finances, social life, relationships, lifestyle, mental state.
- If you do not achieve your plans, what things could go wrong for you? Your health, finances, social life, relationships, lifestyle, mental state.
Take the answers and go through the items on your paper. Discard anything that does not fit in with your plans. Look at the remaining things and decide the one item that you are going to make your priority for the next 30 days.
You have now given yourself permission to put all other projects on hold. You only need to concentrate on whatever you do to continue to bring in income, plus your one project; for the next 30 days.
Step 4: Ask for help
The help you need may be in the form of skills or expertise, to help you with your day to day responsibilities. Just because you have your one thing, it does not mean you do not have to think about anything else. The other very important type of help is support for you. Join a group of like-minded people so you do not feel alone. You may even benefit from a mentor or a coach to check up on you. This is one of the best ways to avoid burning yourself out all over again.
Step 5: Create a relaxing evening routine
Establish a routine that helps you to wind down and get a good night’s sleep. I have a shower or bath, followed by listening to an audio book (not work related). Some people meditate, others write in a journal. Set an alarm on your phone as a trigger that it is time to start winding down. Follow the same routine each night.
“The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall” – Nelson Mandela
Step 6: Create an energising morning routine
This is similar to the evening routine. This time, however, you want to do things that wakes you up and gets you moving. Ironically, getting up in the morning often proves to be the hardest step to master for people who are fighting to overcome overwhelm. This is because emotional energy plays a major part in how we start and tackle our day. The trick is to create a routine that will be effective, regardless of how you feel. Your aim is for the routine to become a habit. It will take time, but gradually you will find you are able to get going even on days you are not looking forward to.
Step 7: Celebrate
I teach people to track their money. Tracking your successes are just as important, even the small ones. I keep a list of my little weekly achievements. It is a great tool to remind me how far I have come when things are not going well. If you are part of a group like a mastermind or you have a coach, it is wonderful to be able to share your successes with them. We all need words of encouragement from time to time.
For celebrating to be really powerful, plan your rewards in advance. When I have an article published I announce it to select Facebook friends and then I buy another pretty lipstick. One of my colleagues goes for a test drive in a high-performance car. It could be a fancy dinner, a holiday, a gadget or just time for you. As long as it makes you feel special, go for it.
When a computer slows down, if we keep pressing the mouse or keyboard, it slows down even more. The easiest solution is to shut it down, give it a little while and then turn it back on. We may not be computers, but sometimes all we need is to shut down for a while, so we can start again with much more power.
What tips have you used to keep burnout at a distance? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!
How to Stay Motivated to Achieve Your Goals
Time is the raw material of our lives. How we choose to spend it, shapes our life accordingly. So having the motivation to spend it on achieving goals is crucial to creating a life we want.
What is Motivation?
The Oxford dictionary defines motivation as the desire or willingness to do something – our drive to take action.
Scientifically, motivation has its roots in the dopamine pathways of our brains. When we do something that feels good, that’s dopamine kicking in. Our actions are driven by the desire for that reward (the good feeling).
Author Steven Pressfield describes motivation more practically. He says we hit a point where the pain of not doing something becomes greater than the pain of doing it. He sees motivation as crossing the threshold where it’s easier to take action than it is to be idle. Like choosing to feel awkward while making sales calls over feeling disappointed about a diminishing bank account.
However you choose to think about it, we all want to harness motivation to achieve our goals.
How to Get Motivated
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says that most people misunderstand motivation. They think that motivation is what gets us to take action. In reality, motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Once we start a task, it’s easier to continue making progress. Like Isaac Newton’s first law: objects in motion stay in motion.
This means most of the resistance when working on your goals comes right before we start. Since motivation naturally occurs after we start, we need to focus on making starting easier.
4 Ways to Make Starting Easier
1. Schedule it
One reason people can’t get started on things is that they haven’t planned when to do it.
When things aren’t scheduled it’s easier for them to fall by the wayside. You’ll end up hoping motivation falls in your lap or hoping that you’ll muster enough willpower to get it done.
An article in the Guardian said, “If you waste resources trying to decide when or where to work, you’ll impede your capacity to do the work.”
2. Measure something
It’s easy to feel uninspired when you don’t know if you’re making progress or what you’re even working towards. That’s why you need to make your success measurable in some way. Starting is easy when you know exactly how much closer your current actions will bring you to achieving your goal.
3. Extrinsic motivation
This type of motivation is from external factors. It can be either positive or negative. Positive motivation consists of incentives like money, prizes, and grades. Negative motivation consists of deterrents like being fired, having a fight, or being fined. Extrinsic motivation doesn’t work effectively long-term, but it can work well in the short term to get you started on something.
4. Make it public
Keep yourself accountable by telling friends and family your goals, or even sharing them on social media. This makes it easier to start something because you’re pressured to not let others down.
How to Stay Motivated Long Term
When we say we want to feel motivated to do something, we don’t want to be pushed or guilted into doing a task. We want to be so attracted and drawn to the idea that we can’t resist not taking action. That’s why it’s important to build a foundation that will set you up for consistency.
These are 5 techniques that will help you do just that:
1. Stay in your goldilocks zone
The goldilocks zone is when a task is the perfect level of difficulty—not too hard and not too easy. In this zone, we reach peak motivation and focus.
For example, let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against a 4-year-old. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become bored and not want to play. Now let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against Serena Williams. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become demotivated because the match is too challenging.
The Goldilocks zone is in the middle of that spectrum. You want to face someone with equal skill as you. That way you have a chance to win, but you have to focus and try for it. Adjusting your workload and goals over time to stay within your Goldilocks zone keeps you engaged and motivated long-term.
2. Pursue intrinsically motivated goals
Being intrinsically motivated to achieve a goal is when you want to achieve it for what it is. There are no external factors like a reward or the risk of being fired. The drive behind your actions is coming from within.
For most intrinsic goals we pursue them because they will enrich our lives or bring us closer to fulfillment. That makes these goals extremely sustainable long-term because they directly affect our quality of life and the things we care about.
3. Use “chunking”
Chunking is the technique of breaking down a goal into smaller short-term targets. By doing this you achieve multiple successes in your pursuit of the main goal. This triggers the brain’s reward system and drives you to keep going.
Traditionally, you may set a goal that you expect to achieve in one year. That’s a long time to commit without seeing any results along the way. By chunking your goals into monthly or quarterly targets, you get the consistent positive reinforcement you need to stay motivated long-term.
For example, instead of trying to lose 50 pounds in one year, try to lose 4 pounds every month for 12 months.
4. Be flexible
We’re all victims of circumstance. Things happen along our journey that we can either adjust to or quit because of. That’s why it’s important to have leeway and flexibility when you’re pursuing a goal. If you expect everything to go perfectly, the inevitable failure can make you disengaged and desireless. When you plan for things to go wrong, you make sure you can keep up for the long haul.
5. Pursue your goals in a sustainable fashion
Don’t lose hope when you’re not an overnight success. Overnight successes are the 1%—for the most part, they don’t exist. What we see as an “overnight success” is actually countless hours of work behind the scenes finally hitting a tipping point. Pursuing goals is a story of patience, persistence, and unseen effort.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is a recipe for a drop in self-confidence and satisfaction. It also cultivates a mindset where you think you haven’t done enough. As a result, you may raise your expectations and put more pressure on yourself.
This is pointless because things worth achieving take time. So we obviously won’t compare to the things around us when starting.
Mastering motivation is a superpower. With that ability at your fingertips, you can accomplish your goals and shape a life you want to live in.
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