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Published on December 21, 2018

12 Changes to Make When You Feel a Lack of Energy and Motivation

12 Changes to Make When You Feel a Lack of Energy and Motivation

Do you ever feel tired of feeling tired? It’s like you get up in the morning and instead of feeling rejuvenated like the people from the TV commercials, you drudge the sound of your alarm and hit it like Ted Williams hits a baseball.

The worst thing is that you have work that needs to be done and you literally can’t afford to slog throughout the day. But there are ways how you can fix that. Since your body is a holistic being, the change in one area will affect a plethora of changes in the other ones. So that’s why these changes will make you feel energetic and motivated to push the day.

The changes affect one of the four crucial categories of every single person:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Intellectual
  • Spiritual

So let’s start to make these changes if you feel a lack of energy and motivation:

Physical

1. Daily walks

Most of us do work which requires us to sit for a long time in uncomfortable chairs. The human body isn’t designed for that. So take 10-30 minutes every single day and just go for a walk. It will help your body stay healthy.

And if you think you don’t have time for that, you can invite a person with whom you need to have a meeting and go for a “walking meeting.” You basically go for a walk and have the meeting in that kind of setup.

There are no excuses which would prevent you from doing this activity – it’s light, easy, and short. But at the same time, provides the much-needed boost to energy for your body.

2. Take a nap

If you think that the kids in the pre-school are foolish to take afternoon naps, you are missing out on a great energy boost. A mere nap of 20-30 minutes boosts your focus, lets your “smart” brain refocus and prepare you for more work that you need to do.

All the biggest performers in the history took naps because their work required immense amounts of cognitive focus which drains you of energy. That’s why naps are important.

3. Stretch

Sometimes, all you need is to stretch your body for two minutes. When you’re stiff, especially if you don’t exercise in the morning, your body still didn’t wake up. So it’s important to let loose all the body parts and allow a non-disrupted flow of energy throughout it.

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This will make the blood flow better, especially coming to your head which needs to focus on demanding cognitive tasks. So stand up from your chair and stretch yourself out because it will make you more energized. You can also try these simple stretches in your office.

Emotional

4. Eat what fills the head and the stomach

I didn’t put food in the physical part because for most of us, the relationship with our food is emotional and there is a big reason for that. The sugar-heavy saturated food makes us high at the moment but then comes the low and you lose all energy to do anything at 11 am which is absurd.

When you start thinking about food, start thinking about usability and pick the one which you can use the most. High fiber, protein food will fill your stomach but your brain as well and you won’t be tired after it.

5. Call a friend

Relationships play a major part in our lives. They are the main source of our happiness and our entire species is called a social animal. So when you get down and low, one of the best energy boosters is actually going into a social environment and just having a good time.

Social circles tend to pump the energy back into us even when we think we have no energy left for anything.

If you are at work and there are no “water cooler” talks around, simply call a friend on the phone and talk with him for a minute. Don’t message him, simply give a call and talk over the phone.

6. Play a game

Do you know that most CEO’s reported that they play games to be more productive. Sounds a bit paradoxical, but when you take into the account the nature of games, you understand the reasoning behind it.

Games are old as human civilization itself and even though we fail at around 80% of the games that we play, we still enjoy playing them.

Playing a simple game of, let’s say, Minesweeper can make you feel more productive and energized. So don’t think of games as energy wasters, think of them as energy amplifiers.

Intellectual

7. Play some music in the background

It doesn’t matter if it’s only white noise in the background or classical music or pop songs, music does wonders to us regarding energy and motivation.

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You know what works best for you and during which time and this only serves as a reminder that sometimes you need some music in life to make magic happen. Here’re some nice motivational songs you can try: 30 Inspirational Songs that Keep You Motivated for Life

P.S. I was listening to Dragon Ball- Cha La (German version) while writing this. There is just something super motivating, inspiring, and energizing in that song for me which forces me to write until my hands bleed.

8. Books

The stimulus provided by books help you regain focus for a longer period of time. So you should start reading some (if you already don’t).

In the beginning, people can’t read more than a couple of pages of a book without falling asleep. That’s perfectly fine because your brain is readjusting to the focus necessary to read through tens of pages of a book.

After a month of reading books daily (20 pages per day will suffice)[1], it will be way easier for you to stay focused and energized at work because you will have trained your brain to stay sharp and focused for a longer period of time.

9. Change frames and perspectives

Frames are a powerful weapon in hands of people who know how to use them. When you encounter a problem or a challenge which makes you stop before you even start, the problem isn’t in the task itself but in the way you approach (frame) that kind of task.

Doing a gym routine of six exercises with 4 repetitions each becomes way easier when you think about it in terms of levels in a game. You start a quest to level up your physical attributes of strength and stamina, and each rep brings in more experience which makes you level up at the end of the gym routine.

Whenever something brings your energy down or makes you feel unmotivated, try to look at it from a different angle.[2] When you change your relationship with a problem, it stops being a problem.

Spiritual

10. Meditation

Taking just a minute to breathe in and out, focusing and letting go of your thoughts through meditation and mindfulness can bring your energy levels back up in an instant.

Meditation has been used for thousands of years as a stress reliever, happiness bringer, and energy booster. If you are working in a crowded office, find just a minute of quiet and alone time to meditate and you will see major differences in your energy and motivation levels.

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11. “Get in zone” ritual

Most people today call it “flow”. It’s about finding the sweet spot between boredom of menial tasks and the anxiety of tasks for which we are incompetent.

When you get yourself in the zone, you distort time and gain massive focus and energy to do anything which is in front of you. Runners use the term “runners high” for this.

I used to be a gamer and I could sit in the chair for 10 hours playing the game without moving a muscle or even flinching. The immense focus and energy I summoned for that were incomparable with everything else in my life.

It’s not that we don’t have the energy and motivation, it’s just that we don’t have a clear path of summoning it (yes, I just used a gamer reference). Flow provides us with that path.

12. The power of now

Whenever we’re doing something, we are always thinking about the next thing that we have to. This makes us constantly chasing something which is in the future and is never quite here.

You are working on a task for a client at the moment, but you’re constantly thinking about the meeting that you have in three hours.

When you come to the meeting, you are constantly thinking about having to go to the gym in two hours.

When you come to the gym, you are constantly thinking about dinner with your wife and kids.

When you start dinner with your family and kids, you constantly think about the report that you need to send before you go to bed.

When you get in bed, you think about the things that you need to do in the morning as soon as you wake up.

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And this perpetual cycle keeps going and going until you are out of breath, energy, motivation to do anything.

The point is to stop and be in the moment — enjoy the power of now. It provides so much rejuvenation to simply look at a tree and think about nothing except that tree. When you live in the moment, it not only brings energy but conserves the one which you would spend thinking and worrying about the future things that you need to do.

Small Changes Bring Big Results

All of these changes don’t seem like a big deal when you read about them. But in practice, they make massive results especially if you can combine them. The big results come only from an accumulation of small things so the sooner you start working on them, the sooner you will see the results in bigger energy levels and motivation.

The small changes in the physical domain include taking daily walks, napping, and stretching.

The small changes in the emotional domain include eating the right kind of food, talking with friends, and playing games.

The small changes in the intellectual domain include listening to music, reading books, and changing frames/perspectives.

The small changes in the spiritual domain include meditation, getting in the zone/flow, and being the moment (having the power of now).

Small changes, big results.  What are you waiting for?

Featured photo credit: Seth Doyle via unsplash.com

Reference

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Bruno Boksic

An expert in habit building

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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