We get it: some days you feel on top of the world and ready to take on anything. At other times though, you might feel a bit more – meh.
Maybe you find there are some tasks that you just can’t seem to get going on. Or maybe it’s a more general feeling of malaise, procrastination, a struggle to get going…
Motivation, or the lack of it, can be a standalone issue or a symptom of something bigger. So let's look at some of the factors:
Are you feeling drowned in tasks? Life throwing too much your way? If you have a heavy workload, juggling lots of different demands or have a lot going on in your life outside of work, this can lead to feeling overwhelmed. And this feeling can really affect your motivation.
Maybe you agreed to do something because you felt obligated, didn’t want to let your team down, or through a desire to please everyone? If your heart really isn’t in it, it’s harder to take action.
Maybe you’re avoiding discomfort? Perhaps you don’t want to feel bored when doing a mundane task, or you are trying to avoid feelings of frustration by dodging a tough challenge.
Could you be suffering a lack of self-belief? Maybe you lack confidence in your skills or expertise, worry about how people may judge you or experience ‘imposter syndrome’. All of these can affect your motivation.
Or perhaps perfectionism has got you paralysed? If you fear that you won’t complete a task flawlessly, you might be reluctant to get started.
So here are our top tips to help you increase your motivation.
Create a plan of action: Be realistic about time, effort, and resources. Prioritise, skip the non-essentials, and keep it do-able.
Set goals: ensure they are small and achievable. And think tiers of success, not just a win or lose situation. Break your optimal goal into 2 – 3 manageable back-ups that you still consider a win. If we can view success as a spectrum rather than a binary phenomenon, it can reduce a fear of failure.
Reward little wins: when you complete a task, give yourself a reward. maybe a cup of coffee, a quick chat with a colleague or a 5 minute break. Break up a task with lots of small rewards to break up a task, or get a treat when you’ve completed a bigger piece of work.
Get competitive – A lot of people find they are motivated by competition, between colleagues, or against yourself. Try betting yourself you can’t answer your emails by lunchtime, or tally up who in the team answers the most calls.
Track your progress: tick things off your list and review how much you have already done. It's like a mini celebration with yourself.
Reframe the task: try to see it as meaningful, rather than a chore you are reluctant to do. Maybe identify what you can learn from it, or see how it helps your end user or organisation, even indirectly
And a few psychology hacks to spice things up:
Act as if you feel motivated:
~ trick yourself into feeling motivated by acting as if already are. Try emulating what a ‘motivated you’ would be doing, wearing, or thinking right now.
Argue the Opposite:
~ be your own devil's advocate. List reasons why you should, rather than shouldn't, do something.
Short sharp bursts:
~ give yourself permission to stop doing a task after 10 minutes. When you reach the 10-minute mark, ask yourself if you want to keep going or quit. You might find the motivation to keep going.
Form good habits:
~ make tasks habitual, and you’ll find yourself doing them automatically.
Mix a dreaded task with a pleasant one:
~ indulge in a vanilla mocha chai latte or listen to music while you do the dreaded chore
Now, onto some self-care, because you're awesome:
Practice self-compassion: treat yourself like your best friend. Be kind, encourage recovery after setbacks, and acknowledge your strengths.
Stay connected: remember you are part of a team and use your colleagues as support. Aks for help if you need it, or take 5 minutes for a chat when you make a coffee. If you are working from home, schedule in a lunchtime zoom with team-mates for some light relief.
Physical health matters: more protein, less sugar; exercise regularly; take nature walks; sleep well.
Set your boundaries and be assertive: feel confident to say ‘no’ to a request if you don’t have the capacity to take it on.