Advertising
Advertising

A Simple Tool to Boost Your Motivation

A Simple Tool to Boost Your Motivation

If you can remember why it is that you’re doing something that you feel is important, you’ll be in a much better place, psychologically, to be able to keep doing it when it starts to get tough. It sounds simple, doesn’t it? That’s probably because it’s far more simple than you realize.

For example, if you can remember why you’ve decided to give up alcohol and chocolate (to lose weight), you’ll be better placed to be able to turn them down when they’re offered.

Advertising

when you feel like quitting

    If you can remember that you’re not solely trying to learn 4000+ random facts for an exam but that you’re trying to learn 4000+ facts about drugs you’re going to use when you’re a doctor—helping people live happy and healthy lives—you’ll be more likely to to keep working at 11 PM when your friends are out at a bar having a good time. Trust me on this, I’m speaking from personal experience.

    As simple as this is, how often do we actually use this obvious truth to help us be more productive?

    My situation and observations

    I’m doing a lot of traveling at the moment, giving talks to groups and organisations who need a little help with keeping their people in the game—perhaps because of a death in service or having to lay off staff, or any other reason that teams start to feel down. Now, I can’t pretend this is a representative, scientific survey, but based upon the number of people who don’t raise their hands when I ask about it from the podium, I’d say that this one simple truth is heavily under-used.

    Advertising

    This could be because it’s just not “cool” to be seen to be enthused, enthusiastic and motivated by anything more significant than the money—I don’t know. What I do know is that if you can put your hand on your heart about why you do things, you’re in a better place to cope when shit hits the fan.
    So, how can we make use of this motivation idea? These are just a few ideas that seem to work for me, my team and my clients: I can’t promise that they’ll all work for you, but all it needs is for one of them to fit with you.

    Ask Yourself “Why?”

    If you didn’t go in to work today (or for a week, or whatever) who would suffer? I don’t just mean your boss—who’d have to arrange cover for you, or the co-workers who’d have to actually do the work you weren’t doing—I mean the people who use your product or service. The answer is easy if you’re a nurse or a teacher, but what abut if you drive a truck?
    If you don’t do your job, someone doesn’t get their stuff, and their world isn’t as nice. Birthdays kind of depend on you doing your thing.

    • If you’re a mechanic, someone might not be able to drive to visit their niece or their aged uncle.
    • If you’re a road-sweeper? People will end up disliking their neighbourhood, and statistically, unhappiness and crime both go up when this occurs.

    Write it Down

    When you realize why you’re doing something, jot it down: try to capture it in one or two sentences. If you can phrase them to be something like “I do X, Y, Z because it makes the world a little better because…” then so much the better.
    Keep this note somewhere that you are going to see it regularly such as the inside of your appointments diary. Writing it on a Post-It note that’s stuck to the side of your computer might also work well if you spend a lot of time at your desk. You could also tuck it in somewhere silly like inside your desk drawer so you see it over the course of a day each time you need to get a pen out.

    Advertising

    Move it

    We all take things for granted after a while, so maintain a policy of moving your note every now and again. Even just a little way will do—like from the right-hand side of your computer to the left—or from the computer to your diary.

    Check it

    Every six months or so, my diary bleeps at me with a “take stock” reminder. There are a whole bunch of things to take stock of and exercises to do, but one of the biggies is to simply ask myself this question: if someone didn’t know why I do what I do, would they be able to guess it from watching me for the last half year?
    Inevitably the answer is, at best: “Not easily”. So, there’s a follow-up question: “Why not?” And the one that follows that one is: “How can I change things over the next six months so that the answer is ‘Yes”?”
    Smartphones and electronic diaries are great for this kind of thing; not just for phoning people and talking to Facebook/Twitter/wherever! They help you keep track of things and remind you of them as needed.

    Summary

    This technique isn’t magic; it’s just a tool, and though it isn’t a silver bullet that can kill all the bad guys at once, it does help. Try it!

    Advertising

     

    More by this author

    A Simple Tool to Boost Your Motivation Nothing Prevents You From Asking Questions Time Management is a Personal Problem… The Trick to Timing Presentations The Way to Success: Know What It Looks Like

    Trending in Communication

    1The Gentle Art of Saying No 217 Ted Talks for Kids to Inspire Little Minds to Do Big Things 310 Toxic Persons You Should Just Get Rid Of 4Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts 5Being Self Aware Is the Key to Success: How to Boost Self Awareness

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

    Advertising

    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

    Advertising

    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

    Advertising

    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Advertising

    Read Next