How to Stay Motivated During Turbulent Times
A Global Lockdown
We are living in extraordinary times. The world has come to a standstill in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic has created unique challenges for our global society, and for most of us, it is the first time we’ve ever experienced a global lockdown. We all have a part to play in tackling this crisis. Physical distancing and staying indoors have helped to stop the spread of this virus. At the same time, it is easy to feel suffocated, overwhelmed, anxious, or flat out unmotivated. We all go through ups and downs and many of us are taking things day by day. That is okay. Here are some ways you can stay motivated as you navigate the bumpy road ahead.
Start with Reflection
It’s not easy dealing with this situation. We all led our own, individual lives in the days leading up to lockdown measures enacted around the world. As nations responded to the rapid spread of COVID-19, we had to come together as one global community. With the dramatic changes to our social conditions, it’s easy for us to feel unmotivated. To start, reflect on your life, as it was, a few months ago. Did you have a job that you went to every day? Did you move to a new city or country and immerse yourself in a new culture? Were you running a business or starting a freelancing journey? It may feel like it’s been a while, and for some it has, so take a moment to reflect, and remember how far you have come. Visualise what your day to day life was like. Recall the emotions that you felt as you lived it. Do your best to recall experiences that created both positive and negative emotions. Write them down. Record each memory and the emotion that you’ve associated with these memories. Identify the activities in your daily life that made you feel good or bad. Your positive experiences could include:
- your daily interactions with your work colleagues
- discovering new cultures and places during your travels
- the day you closed a big deal with a new client or customer
While your negative experiences might include:
- the monotony of a daily commute
- a particularly distracting colleague
- your most time-consuming client and/or customer
We are now in a new state of normal. Identify your positive experiences, and then focus on those actions that will bring more of these experiences to your life. Identify your negative experiences, and determine what you can do to minimize or eliminate the root of these experiences. If you dread your daily commute, try negotiating for a remote work policy (now might be the best time).
Define Your Goals and Quantify Them
One of the most important factors when setting a goal is to make sure that it genuinely interests you. Goals have to be important and provide value to you. Otherwise, the chances of you achieving them are low. Take a look back at your experiences. What are the common underlying themes that generated a specific emotion?
Reflect on Your Positive Experiences
Create goals around how you can enjoy more of your positive experiences in the midst of this new normal. If you feel a need to stay connected to colleagues whose company you value, reach out to a few of them and set up a weekly call. Find a colleague you are already close with and talk to someone you want to get closer to. If you enjoy interacting with select clients that make you feel valued, set up a weekly feedback call. Do not make the purpose of the call to sell more of your products or services. Use it as a touch-point to enhance the relationship. If you enjoy immersing yourself in new cultures and places, make a list of the countries or cities you want to visit when the opportunity is available again. Then make a point to learn more about those countries and cities, as though you were already on your way.
Reflect on Your Negative Experiences
Create goals around how to reduce or eliminate the negativity in your life. If you find that certain colleagues are distracting or undermining your work, start by tracking how much time you spend with them. Then find ways to reduce the time you spend interacting with them by 5%-10% each week over the next month. There are many ways to do this, and it’s probably even easier right now:
- schedule a quick voice call instead of an in-person, or video meeting
- have meeting agendas prepared, so that your meetings are quicker and to the point.
- just ignore them for a day (this may be difficult to do, depending on the person, but you might be surprised by how little some people notice it).
If you find that certain clients are using up far more of your time than you think it’s worth, cut them loose. It can be hard to turn down a client. After all, they are the person paying you, so try using the 80/20 rule. Do you have clients that are always negotiating prices, or asking for refunds and chargebacks? Establish which 20% of your clients cause 80% of your problems, and stop working with them. Use the time instead to find a new, amazing client, who doesn’t waste your time.
Goal setting is only the start of your new journey. Once you write down your goals, check-in with yourself weekly. Check to see that you’re actually meeting these goals, or where you might be falling short. Falling short could mean:
- That you’ve set very aggressive goals for an unreasonably short period of time
- That the goals themselves are unfeasible
- That you may need to re-evaluate your motivations for setting the goal in the first place.
It’s crucial to point out that the goals you are setting for yourself should focus on improving your happiness. Try to avoid focusing on material pursuits. Center your focus on developing the habits that further your career, generate more business, or expand your network.
We are big advocates of using goal setting to stay motivated during uncertain times, now, and in the future. They are one of the best ways to keep your mind occupied, and will continually fuel your desire to improve your livelihood, however you define it.
There is a silver lining to every hardship. Never stop looking for it, no matter how tough it gets. It’s unlikely that we will get another opportunity to take a step back and reflect on our lives as deeply as we can right now. Let us continue to play our part as we work through this crisis, but let’s also do our best to enjoy it while we can.