19 Apr How to Stay Motivated When You Have a Really Terrible Day
We all have those days. You hit a massive brick wall and you lose motivation – you don’t think you can go any further. Or you’ve suffered a major defeat and don’t think you can stomach another one; but you know the end results are still worth it.
Days like these present you with two choices: You can either run away with your tail between your legs, or you can keep your eyes on the prize.
When the going gets really tough, here’s how you can weather the storm.
Fake it till you make it
Yes, it’s a well-worn cliche, but you know what? There’s real truth to it. The more you do something, even if you’re just going through the motions, the better you’re going to get at it. This is true with just about everything, from practicing a sport to feigning confident body language until you actually become confident.
When the going gets tough, remember this. If you think you don’t have the skills or knowledge to get it done, go ahead and pretend that you do. What you eventually know you can do will completely surprise – and motivate – you.
Success is not a mad dash to the finish line. It’s easy to look at miniscule, barely-measurable progress and lose all of your motivation. But it’s precisely those tough days–where progress is slower than molasses–that can lead you to success.
Remember, any forward progress is still progress. Keep your eyes on the goal.
Be passionate and motivated
If your willpower is draining, don’t fret. Psychologists liken willpower to a muscle. It can get stressed over time, and you’ll see it deplete if it’s overused. That’s why you need to focus on your passion to get you through.
No matter how hectic your day gets, focus on that vision that drove you to get started in the first place. I know I do, and even the craziest days are a cakewalk when I look at the positive.
Anyone who’s seen a Snickers commercial can relate to getting “hangry.” But did you know that being hungry also causes stress to skyrocket and motivation to plummet?
When everything is going haywire, downgrade your stress by grabbing a snack–or even a full meal. A little food can clear your mind, release endorphins, and give you the energy to handle a tough day.
Drive right towards it
Driving right into what’s bothering you might seem counterintuitive, if not completely terrifying. But it makes sense. If your workload is bothering you, putting it off is likely to bother you even more. Remember those term papers we waited until the eleventh hour to write? Remember how that amplified our angst?
So focus on your work, and get it done. Your mind will be focused on the work instead of on worrying about it.
Those TV shows weren’t that far off when they depicted someone hyperventilating into a brown paper bag. Breathing (the right way) is the biggest key to staying cool under fire.
As Alan Watkins explains in his book Coherence: The Secret Science of Brilliant Leadership, rhythm and smoothness are key, just like with a dance move.
“If we focus on these two dimensions, even for a few short minutes, the production of the cortisol and adrenaline will stop,” he said.
You can do this too, by keeping your breath consistent and counting to six when you inhale and exhale. Before you know it, you’ll be breathing your way into a Zen-like state, ready to tackle whatever the day throws at you.
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Elle Kaplan is the founder and CEO of LexION Capital, a fiduciary wealth management firm in New York City, serving high-net-worth individuals.