Home Keys To Success How Do You Stay Motivated on a Daily Basis?

How Do You Stay Motivated on a Daily Basis?

Stay Motivated

Picture this:

It’s a Monday morning in February. You wake up in the dark and then robotically shower, dress for work and prepare your coffee. You drive to the office beneath a gray sky dimly illuminated by the sluggish winter sun. You park the car and pull your coat up around your neck to blunt the biting wind as you cross the lot. Once inside, you switch on the computer and sit motionless as it comes to life. The workload before you feels unappetizing. You’ve taped a note to your monitor that says, “Carpe diem,” but all you really want to seize is another two hours of sleep. A long work week beckons, and quite frankly, you’re not feeling it.

Most of us have been in this place at some point in our lives. I certainly have. As a teacher and football coach for the past 30 years, there have been many times where I’ve struggled to find motivation. Routines can provide comfort, but also lethargy and a lack of inspiration. Motivating oneself daily can be challenging. We are not fictional characters. We do not hop out of bed each morning leaving a trail of rainbows and unicorns in our wake. The routine is often mundane.

How do we overcome this, and find our best selves?

As with most things in life, staying motivated requires a plan. It’s not something we can simply intend to do. Intentions are great. I intend to follow up on those projects around the house. I intend to eat healthier and get more sleep. But, without a plan upon which to put these intentions into motion, they remain unfulfilled.

Here, then, are three principles you may consider applying to stay focused and maximize productivity at work when feeling unmotivated.

Make an Impact

Think about the impact you are making on others

The way my teaching schedule is structured, I often repeat the same lesson three or four times a day. The repetition can become mind-numbing, especially when I hear myself saying the same things over and over. This can make it easy to lose enthusiasm or fall into a rut, which results in going through the motions on the job.

When I get bogged down like that, it helps to consider the impact I’m having on my students. I set the tone for their classroom experience, so when I go through the motions, they follow. When this is done repeatedly, they become bored, lose interest and struggle to find their own motivation. One of the reasons I became a teacher was because I was inspired by good ones and bored to tears by bad ones. When I am unmotivated and allow myself to lapse into poor practice, I become that teacher who turned me off years ago. Conversely, when I embrace my job with enthusiasm, I serve as an inspiration and role model for others.

This may not translate precisely to every profession – one of the rewards of teaching is the opportunity to inspire others – but in every profession there are clients, co-workers and networks depending on us. The intrinsic satisfaction of meeting their needs can be a great motivator when you realize the impact it makes.

Personalize your work experience

While you are a member of a team at work, you are also an individual. It’s important to remember that. Keeping sight of who we are, what we enjoy and how to incorporate these things into our daily work experience is a key to staying motivated.

I’m a big music fan, so I make sure during the day to find time to listen to my favorite bands or artists. This provides a pick-me-up when I’m feeling sluggish. One of my colleagues loves to exercise, so he makes time every day to walk. He finds a way even on rainy days, where I see him doing laps through the halls to get his endorphins pumping. Another co-worker is a good artist. She spends time each day drawing, even if it’s a simple sketch on her lunch break. By taking time to tap into her own creativity, she is better able to serve her students.

It’s important to remember who we are and what inspires us. Incorporating these things into our workday is a great way to stay motivated.

Finish tasks, whether big or small

People who have been in the military talk about the value of making one’s bed to begin their day. The idea is that if you start your day by finishing one task, you’ll be inspired to finish others as the day progresses. I’ve never embraced the bed-making theory specifically, but I do subscribe to its broader philosophy. When I accomplish tasks at work, whether they are big or small, I feel motivated and productive. When I don’t, I feel rudderless and without purpose.

Humans desire purpose in life. Why am I here? is one of their most universally asked questions. The macro view takes us to queries that are largely unanswerable. But the micro view is compelling. It challenges us to provide meaning to our lives. Why am I in this relationship? This town? This job? One of the best answers to these questions is because we are doing things that matter. We are passionate about them, and we are moving forward with our lives.

Fulfilling daily tasks is a great way to find meaning. One challenging task for me is grading papers. After 30 years on the job, this can be a monotonous chore. But when I remember that I’m helping my students by doing it, and that I’ll feel a sense of satisfaction once they’re graded, I am motivated to finish. Often, I break this task into pieces so the goal is more manageable. Rather than try to grade them all at once, which can be up to 125 essays, I section them off, aiming to finish 30 or 40 a day. By making the task realistic, I avoid feeling overwhelmed.

This is true of preparing our football team for an upcoming opponent as well. We can’t prepare for everything in a single practice. But we can work on elements of our game plan, one day at a time, until we are prepared. Knowing what tasks we want to accomplish, and having a plan to get there, is important.

Our lives are not social media pages where only the idealized versions of our experiences are portrayed. Work is not always wonderful. That doesn’t mean we can’t stay motivated, even on those gray Mondays in February. By thinking about the impact we’re having on others, personalizing our experience, and finishing specific tasks each day, we can be our best and most productive selves.


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