Does this happen to you as it does to me? I’ll be working, overwhelmed with work. I’ll be thinking I’ll never get to the bottom of the pile, never have a moment to exercise, never have time to sit down for a meal. Through it all, my adrenaline is pumping and my productivity is enormous. Everything I work on turns out well. And then, suddenly, I’m near the bottom of the pile and while there’s still a little to do, the hard pressing work is done. What happens then? I don’t know what to do with myself. Once the rush of energy leaves, I can feel lethargic and unmotivated. I need to figure out what to do next. In short, when I have a lot of work, I manage to get it all done, and to perform at my maximum potential. But, sometimes when I don’t have enough to do, I find it hard to get started with anything. Here I am going to share with you a few of my favorite tricks for getting motivated when the motivation has to come entirely from within. The next time you’re bored or unable to get started at work, give yourself the time to do these helpful exercises. You’ll get right back on your game. And, by the way – you are not alone in this phenomenon. In fact, Friedrich Nietzsche recognized this state of mind when he wrote: “A subject for a great poet would be God’s boredom after the seventh day of creation.” Can you imagine a bored God? Well – that can be a topic for another time. Let’s just talk about us today. Here are four simple steps to overcoming lack of motivation.

1. Think of something you really love to do.
This may seem self-evident, but it’s not obvious when you think about it. Imagine that you’re at work and it’s 3:00 p.m. and you have some projects to do, but not enough. More likely than not when what you have on your desk just isn’t doing it for you, you probably berate yourself, pick up a piece of paper, sit down at your computer and try to get started. If you’re in the frame of mind not to work, though, you’re unlikely to be at your best. Instead of forcing yourself to begin a project you just aren’t ready to dig into, sit back in your chair and think about something that makes you happy – especially something that activates your mind and body. I’ll use myself as an example. When I find myself staring out the window of my office unable to face the tasks in front of me, I usually find myself thinking about yoga. I love yoga, especially hot yoga. And, somehow, I get a rush just thinking about the next time I can immerse myself in my yoga practice. It makes me happy, it gets my mind flowing, it gets my body enervated. And – guess what – I usually can apply myself at work just because I have emotionally given myself a boost.

Think of a reward for getting back to being productive. Do you love chocolate ice cream? Yoga (like me)? Talking to your niece or best friend on the phone? An indulgent soak in the tub? For some of you, the concept that you considered in suggestion one, above, can be your reward for applying yourself to the next task. For others, the reward will be unrelated. Either way, if you are able to get your mind back “on the job” you will deserve a reward. Give it to yourself. You deserve to be indulged. And, knowing that a job well done will earn you a personal reward, your promise to yourself will be a great motivator. Maybe you need immediate gratification. In that case, if it’s possible, reward yourself in the moment.

2. Give yourself a break.
Are you a person for whom it’s not enough to think about things that you love to do and to promise yourself a reward? If so, you probably just need to walk away from the desk and the remaining non-motivational tasks. Do it!! Seriously, if your mind has been working full throttle and you are feeling a little ennui and boredom, why not just take a walk or let the next project wait a day? Go outside and walk around the block, have a cold glass of water or meditate for 5 minutes. Any break will assist you with resetting your computer.

3. Use the sugar and spice approach.
When all else fails, you may have to give yourself negative feedback for procrastination or lack of positive energy. Because, in many cases, only the fear of a negative consequence will get you going again. Now, be sure that this negative occurrence is not one that you can overcome by merely ignoring your promise to yourself. For example, if you promise yourself a big piece of chocolate cake for finishing that pile of work, and the negative consequence is NOT to have that same piece of cake, you can simply NOT use your will power and have the cake anyway. (I mean, in all honesty, how many times have you told yourself not to have a cookie and eaten it anyway?) A better example is one I take directly from a client who was temporarily “stuck” put had to finish a proposal by week’s end. He promised himself a reward of a very expensive bottle of whisky that he had been craving and the “punishment” or “consequence” of failure was having his mother stay with him for a week. Do I have to tell you the end of the story? He finished the proposal and indulged! So try this technique on for size and see what works for you.

We all get stuck and don’t know how to move forward at times. The key to success is to figure out how to re-motivate, re-energize and re-apply yourself. These simple coaching tips will help every time.

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