How to Stay Motivated in Isolation (Even When You Are Not)
Winston Churchill would be the best person to tell you that motivating yourself in times of crisis is an onerous and exacting task. During the Second World War, he was saddled with the very daunting responsibility of leading Britain and the Allied powers to victory against the Nazis. Despite having the odds stacked against him, he pressed on. “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense,” he once said. Motivation is largely personal; there is no one-size-fits-all formula to subscribe to. What works for one person may not work for another. So how can we keep pushing forward now that our lives and routines have been upended by the pandemic? If you’re struggling at the moment, here are six simple strategies to help keep you on track.
Set specific goals
Never underestimate the importance of setting goals. Experts say that when people prescribe targets for themselves (whether professional or personal), they are more likely to commit to their tasks, even if their level of motivation wanes. This means setting specific objectives like closing five deals a month, writing ten articles a week or burning 500 calories a day, rather than vague and amorphous statements like “working harder” or “losing weight,” Having such ambiguity is difficult to measure and to follow through, plus they are not intrinsically motivating. Heidi Grant Halvorson, an author and researcher specialising in personal success, believes that intrinsic goals are most effective as they lead to greater satisfaction and fulfilment.
Concentrate on areas of work that you enjoy
When we find merits in our work, even the most dreadful tasks will be (somewhat) tolerable. Try to find aspects of the job that you derive satisfaction from like using your creative skills to problem-solve or communicating with empathy to enhance the customer experience. Any tasks that you find rewarding will help you stay motivated to work longer. Although the F&B sector has taken a hit since the Covid-19 outbreak, Executive chef Adam Penney of The Potato Head Group takes it all in his stride. He still enjoys turning up for work every single day because of his unyielding passion for his craft. For him, the most exciting part of his job is being in the kitchen cooking comfort food. While many are getting antsy in their isolation bubble, Penney is using the extra time at home to play around with different ingredients, and to try out new recipes for his family and Three Buns.
Establish a system of positive reinforcement; for every goal you reach, have a planned reward/celebration. It could be a weekend staycation at a luxury resort or treating yourself to an omakase meal at Waku Ghin post-corona. Be mindful to choose an incentive that will not negate all your hard work. For example, if your reward for successfully completing a gruelling project is to cut corners for the next one, you are not doing yourself a favour either. In the long run, this may put your relationship with your client in jeopardy.
Breakdown your goals into smaller tasks
Weekly, rather than monthly or quarterly goals, help you to be more accountable. Spread your tasks out, because it can be mentally exhausting to finish them all in one sitting. Breaking your goals into smaller chunks can have a positive effect on your psyche. Each time you accomplish your mini-goal (and realise that it is not that challenging as it appears to be), your brain naturally feels more motivated to tackle the next hurdle. Anyone running a marathon will tell you how energetic they are at the start, but to cross the finish line requires endurance and stamina. The last thing you want is a burn-out.
Stop midpoint and think about what you have left to do
Once you reach the halfway mark, the end is in sight. To prevent yourself from losing steam, do a mental count of your remaining tasks. For example, simply knowing that you have two more reports left to write, (instead of ten) will give you the impetus to complete them. If the task seems too overwhelming, take breaks to improve your productivity. “My advice to those struggling during this period would be to allocate some time for yourself every day by going for a walk or doing an activity that will lift your spirits,” says Solace’s Chief Revenue Officer, Tim Wong.
Surround yourself with positive people
No man is an island; when you surround yourself with people that you look up to, they can be a motivational force for you. Mentors are a linchpin of success for any entrepreneur, so try having more than one whom you can turn to for support. You can also pair up or sit next to a high-performing colleague once the pandemic subsides. A study found that being in close proximity to driven colleagues will invariably influence you to challenge yourself and push beyond your limits. This is the same reason why people exercise together in big groups, to keep their energy level and motivation up. Take it a step further by eliminating distractions to stay focused. One simple way is to turn off your smartphone. Another is to declutter and create a clean home workspace. Ultimately, as much as others can help to motivate you, you still need to get your ass out of bed before you can conquer the virtual boardroom.