As a writer on Quora, I get asked the same question several times.
How to stay motivated?
How to sustain motivation when a setback makes you really upset?
How to remain motivated when you are not in the best of spirits?
How to remain motivated when you are a freelance consultant working from home? And have no company?
I hate to see this but there is no magic wand to solve this problem. But there is one magical word: routine.
What you do every single day defines your life. What you do once a month does not.
So it’s not enough to have a goal that inspires you.
It’s not enough to have a rock solid plan to make that goal happen.
It’s not even enough to have the highest IQ on the planet.
Without routines, you are nothing.
Without living the goal through many, micro daily quotas, you are only fooling yourself.
Sure, there are days when you’re bored or dissipated and you can’t work. That’s normal. Take a break. Meet a friend. Watch a film. But get back on track after that. Finish your daily quota.
But if you find that you can’t get back on track, then there is either something wrong with you or your goal. Figure out what the problem is and fix it.
Because goals are not achieved by genius or team work or any of that jazz. They are all important. But in the end the only thing that forges all of that together in order to achieve the goal, is the very boring but very crucial small, daily quota.
Fall in love with your small, daily quota.
Don’t look at it as something that’s small and boring.
Give it meaning. Look at it as one crucial piece to a magnificent puzzle.
Setbacks? That happens to all of us. The problem arises when you believe a setback reflects on your character. That’s not true. A setback simply means you failed in one approach. Understand why you failed. And try another approach. Remember, if plans A and B fail, you still have another 2 alphabets to work with. Train your mind to see setbacks as a part of success, not the opposite of success – and you will look past them and move on powerfully.
Freelance consultant working from home? Keep getting distracted by kids, hobbies, and friends? I work that way. Here’s how I deal with it:
- Have a goal for the quarter. What do you want to achieve in the next 3 months? Make it concrete and measurable.
- Break that goal into 90 daily quotas. All you need to do today is fulfil one daily quota. That’s probably 3-4 hours of work, if not more.
- It has been proven that nobody can work at peak performance for more than 45 minutes or an hour at a time. Take breaks after every hour. Go for a walk. Have a cup of coffee. Reach out to someone. Breaks help you stay productive and focused.
- Know your most productive time of the day and use it relentlessly.
Irrespective of the nature of your work or what stage you are in, it is a great practice to start your day with a workout. You don’t work out? You have a problem. There is no other way of putting it. No, you don’t need to bust your gut with weights in the gym. All you need to do is jog for thirty minutes. No healthy person in the world can offer a justification for not jogging for thirty minutes a day. Why should you do it? Any kind of exercise – even for just 15 minutes – does something magical to your brain. It releases dopamine into your brain cells. Dopamine triggers many other hormones that work wonders on your mood and sense of well-being. In other words, a jog is the most natural, under-utilized anti-depressant. Like every good piece of training, it tricks your brain into feeling happy and happy people are more productive and positive. After your workout, get to work. Trust me… it is very hard to not feel optimistic after a good workout!
And what if, despite all this, you just feel too low and can’t stick to your daily quota? Well, if the feeling persists, I suggest see a therapist. But first, try to tackle it head-on. The best way to do that is gentle persistence. Giant boulders are worn down by seemingly small streams. This happens not because streams are supernatural but because they have supernatural patience. Ernest Hemingway said when he was depressed or unproductive he would coach himself to write ‘one, true sentence.’ Just writing one true sentence, in his opinion, was enough. Then another after that, and another one after that, and so on… pretty soon he had a damn good page of writing. His daily quota was done.
Hitting a wall in your head today? Do five minutes of solid work. Just five minutes of real, serious, work. The next five minutes will emerge out of that. And so on.
Soon, you’re flying.
About the Author:
Sandhya Reddy is a leadership & transformation coach based in Bangalore, India. She is the Founder and Principal Coach at Chapter Two Coaching, a coaching consultancy that enables everyone from CEOs to work-from-home parents to achieve their goals by replacing self-imposed limitations with enabling stories.
Many of us in our thirties experience a disquieting realization: what brought us to middle-management may not take us to senior-management. This is true. To chart a new career path, one needs to think and do things differently. This is where Sandhya can help. She is a coach. Life coaching, executive coaching, business coaching, personality development, leadership coaching… they are all part of her forte. Her Executive coaching programs helps tomorrow’s leaders set new goals, make new plans to achieve those goals, get that elusive promotion through a blend of knowledge, action and image-building, enhance influence among the leadership team, be more productive, get more out of one’s team, and be known in the company as an indispensable performer and future leader.