Here’s some real-world advice on how to stay motivated even during difficult times.
LIFE is an emotional roller coaster, and unless you figure out how to manage those emotions and keep yourself motivated, you’ll have a difficult time succeeding. This is particularly true right now. The economy continues to struggle and seems to always be in “recovery mode”. In addition to that, while there are jobs now opening up for people, lower pay has become more the norm. Many companies are still cutting back, and pressures to perform are greater than ever. It’s easy to lose our motivation.
However, even though the world around us may be dreary and depressing, that in no way reduces our personal need to do the best we can. That means that we all have a responsibility to stay motivated.
It is amazing what a difference a few degrees of attitude adjustment can make in our performance. Try this little exercise. Tell yourself these things:
“Business is terrible. Life is tough. Everyone is struggling. Nobody wants to see me, and when they do, it’s just to complain.”
Now wallow in those thoughts for a moment, and note how much energy and enthusiasm you have.
Now, think the opposite: “I have great opportunities. People need me more today than ever. I have valuable solutions for them. It’s a great time to have this job. It’s a great time to be alive!”
Roll those around in your mind for a while. Note how much energy and enthusiasm you have.
As you reflect on this exercise, it’s clear that your energy, enthusiasm and drive to succeed come about as a result of your thoughts. And here is one of the most powerful truths known to mankind: You can control your thoughts.
Going beyond “positive thinking”
Succeeding in difficult times depends a great deal on our motivation. Staying motivated requires us to take charge of our thoughts. I’ve heard dozens of people say, “I’ve tried positive thinking. It just isn’t me.” I agree that it is difficult to patch a bunch of positive thoughts on top of an essentially negative personality. The issue is deeper than that. Let’s, therefore, examine the deeper issues.
At the heart of motivation lies a set of powerful beliefs that you must embrace if you are going to successfully motivate yourself. Without a wholehearted commitment to these foundational beliefs, all the techniques and tactics for self-motivation are like spreading wallpaper over crumbling plaster. It may hold temporarily, but it is soon going to deteriorate into a mess.
Here’s the first foundational principle: You must believe that you can do better than you are now doing.
The second is this: You must accept that it is your responsibility to do so.
It’s simple and common sense, but, the more I observe people the more convinced I am that far too many people do not share these core beliefs. Rather, they are in the habit of making excuses for their situation. They believe fate, not their actions, determines their success. They believe success is for someone else, not them. They never really grab onto the first of these foundational principles.
Others believe that they can achieve greater degrees of success. They embrace the first principle, intellectually, but they never internalize the second. They become content with their situation and remain in pre-established comfort zones. They look at their manager as the person who is responsible for their success, or lack thereof. Maybe it’s their parent’s fault, or their spouse’s, or… the list goes on.
Whether you are struggling with a lack of energy that accompanies a bad day, or you’re depressed and frustrated with your lack of progress on a larger scale, examine your core beliefs first. If you really accept these two principles, you have the keystone in place to become highly motivated.