Sometimes, you just run out of steam.
One day, you’re on fire; ready to tackle the world. These are the days when you get so much work done, and make so much forward progress, it feels like nothing can get in your way. The wins start stacking up. Your confidence swells. You end the day looking forward to tomorrow and the great things you’ll accomplish. It’s even hard to sleep because your mind is racing with ideas, answers, and possibilities.
But when morning comes, it feels like the tank is empty. All that energy and excitement is gone. In fact, you’re starting to wonder what made you think you could have an impact at all. Engaged? Nope. Motivated? Not a chance. It’s all you can do to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other. Forget “seizing the day” or “taking the bull by the horns.” Maybe, if you’re lucky, you can make it to lunch without anyone asking too much of you. Maybe, if you go through the motions today, tomorrow will be better.
We all have those days when our confidence takes a hit. It certainly happens to me. Despite my best intentions, I just can’t muster enough willpower to ignite the spark that usually drives me to do my best work. Sometimes, it’s a bit of bad news that brings me down. Something doesn’t go my way and the setback seems particularly harsh – a key resource lets me down or a pet project falls flat.
Sometimes I just feel tired. The energy I’ve expended in recent days, either at work or even on projects outside the office, takes its toll and I need to recuperate. Sometimes a new project seems a little too big to tackle and I feel drained just thinking about it. I don’t feel confident in what I’m doing and my motivation takes a hit.
You’ve been there, haven’t you? No one can maintain a high level of motivation all the time. Everyone feels the drain. The key is to recognize what’s happening. Temporary drops in engagement are normal, possibly even healthy. But long-term disengagement is dangerous. I don’t like feeling that way. I like feeling energized by my work and look for ways to rekindle my motivation.
Back in January, I wrote about some things I do to stay motivated – activities that help boost my mood. Today, I want to share three mental exercises that I think are key to building confidence and, by extension, engagement. How we think determines how we act. How we act determines our impact.[Tweet “How we think determines how we act. How we act determines our impact.”]
Exercise #1 – WAKE UP!
The first step to rebuilding your confidence and motivation is to shake yourself out of the mental stupor that’s clouding your judgement. So what if something didn’t go your way? Who cares about that person who shot you down? Stop letting circumstances and people outside of your control dictate how you feel. Take ownership of your mental state and snap out of it.
Remember, you were born to do great things! You have talents and skills that no one else can provide! You have value that people desperately need. The longer you let self-doubt and hesitation keep you from reaching your potential, the longer you starve the world of your gifts. Now is the time to wake up!
Exercise #2 – GET UP!
You won’t accomplish anything just sitting there. Stop stewing in self-pity and malaise and start moving. The only way to realize your true potential is to act. That means it is time to attack your future head-on. Seize control of your emotions by engaging in activity that moves you forward.
Go for an easy win. Reach for the low hanging fruit. Take the first, tiny step forward. Get a small accomplishment under your belt and see how great it feels. Now use that feeling to propel forward into the next, more significant step. Build up some momentum and let inertia work for you. Now is the time to get up!
Exercise #3 – LOOK UP!
Once you’re on the move, keep your focus onward and upward. Let nothing pull your attention away from the goal. All it takes is one distraction to stall your efforts. That’s what caused you to lose confidence to begin with, right?
So don’t look back. This is not the time for “what if’s” and “if only’s.” If you start looking back at what could have been, you’ll feel the urge to wallow in the past. Don’t look around at what others are doing. It’s too easy to see someone doing something different or better. Self-doubt lives in our peripheral vision. So keep your eyes front and your feet moving. Now is the time to look up!
I’m constantly amazed at how quickly I can become my own worst enemy. One minute things are going great. The next, I’ve let my focus drift. I’ve stopped moving. I’ve fallen asleep. Thankfully, my mind is equally capable of reversing the downward spiral. Once I take control of my emotions by waking up, getting up, and looking up, I feel the fire within ignite. Once that fire gets burning, there’s nothing that can stop me.
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