As I’m sure you have, I’ve listened to and enjoyed tons of motivational programming, from keynote speakers at conferences to books to audiobooks to seminars to… well, you get it. I can tell you all about Tom Hopkins’ sales motivational methods, recite Tony Robbins and Richard Bandler backwards, rant as much as Gary Vaynerchuk, etc. I’m sure you’ve done and listened to enough motivational stuff to open your own motivational bookstore just with the stuff in your home office.

So why, then, do you and I wake up some days and just have no motivation? Why does that blank patch of wall in our offices still get face time with us, when there’s so much to do and we’ve got so much motivational knowledge in our heads?

I can’t speak for you, but there are generally three things that deplete my motivation or self motivation:

1. I don’t care. There are some tasks, and we all have them, that I just don’t care for, like cleaning the cat’s litter box. There’s no amount of NLP reframing or Tony Robbins that will take that task and make it a delightful challenge.

My fix: burn through those tasks as quickly as possible, and find ways to distract your thinking mind (which is the part that gets bored) with something else during those times. If you ever look at my Twitter usage during the workday, there are lulls and spikes. You know I’m doing something like database maintenance, mailing list management, etc. during periods of spikes because my thinking mind is waiting for one or more tasks to complete, especially on long database issues.

2. Bad climate. Ever been to one of those meetings that just sucks the life out of you? I was once at a sales meeting at a former company (unsurprisingly out of business) where the sales team leader was this guy who spoke in a monotone and sounded like a prophet of doom. No matter how well or poorly sales were going, he was guaranteed to be the wet blanket that made you want to call in sick for the next year. Every company has its demotivators – endless meetings, bad leaders/managers, office politics, bureaucracy without end. That’s unavoidable unless you’re a sole proprietor, in which case, you’ve got other problems to solve if you hate the leadership.

My fix: Get out of the office, even just for a day. Go talk to your best customers. Go talk to the people whose lives you are directly impacting in a positive way, and see how the stuff you do on a daily basis actually matters. Sales charts and quarterly bonuses and metrics are all fine and good, but they’re bloodless. No one feels anything about a percentage increase in sales. Talking to a single mother who got a scholarship because of a blog post you wrote and is going back to college can refresh and revitalize your energy and motivation like nothing else. Find out how you and your business are actually making a difference to the people you serve, and if you’re not making a difference at all (or worse, are actively harming people), get the hell out of your job.

3. No direction. How long is your to do list? I know mine’s infinitely long and seems to get longer (if that were mathematically possible, which it’s not) every day. With so much to do, it’s kind of like going to a buffet that’s two and a half miles long. There’s so much to choose from, you don’t know where to start.

My fix: Make a list of the stuff that you have to do. Do NOT assign priorities to it. Instead, look at the list and find one or two things that you can accomplish very quickly and that are reasonably fun and entertaining to do. Why? You want to jump start your momentum of accomplishment. Chances are the stuff on your list that’s super high priority is also stuff that will require intense focus, energy, and effort – and if you’re not moving right now, going 0 to 60 instantaneously is difficult. Pick one or two items that can get the ball rolling, and after you’ve restarted your momentum, then move over to a list that has priorities assigned to it, or start to assign priorities.

It’s always good to refresh your motivational potential, your stored energy, with things like those books, seminars, etc. but at the end of the day, you need to convert that potential into action, into energy, into results so that you make a difference. Making a difference in the world, accomplishing something, having results at a human level that you can be proud of – that will fuel your future motivation more than all the self help materials in the world.

Get through the stuff you don’t care about. Get out of the office. Find a direction and get the ball rolling. That’s how I break my demotivational spells. How about you?

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