How leaders can stay motivated, when they don’t feel like it

stay motivated when you don't feel like it

Here is my secret to being able to stay motivated all the time. Ready? Here we go:

Don’t try to stay motivated all the time. It’s impossible. Find ways to be productive, even when you aren’t feeling motivated.

If you ever read anything about how Gary Vaynerchuk works, you’ll probably feel inadequate. He seems to be a work powerhouse.

But hopefully most of the time, you feel motivated enough to manage your team or your projects. Some days, I can guarantee it will be difficult to stay motivated. You’ll just feel like staying at home, or drinking coffee and chatting with your colleagues.

Firstly, it’s OK to have these down days. Realistically, they’re going to happen. You’ll also have days when you are a whirlwind of productivity, getting things done.

Good managers and leaders still know how to get things done even when they don’t feel motivated. Here’s how.

1. Schedule future appointments to get things done

When you have work to do, you might not feel like it today. Most of the time, you don’t need to do everything today. Instead of trying to tackle it when you can’t be bothered, make a booking in the future (tomorrow, next week) where you’ll work on it.

This might mean you book time in you calendar specifically for that task, or arrange a meeting with others where you’ll commit to working on something together. When you book in a future meeting with others, this can help you remain committed and stay motivated, because you don’t want to let them down by being a slacker.

2. Delegate your motivation to somebody else

Sometimes, you feel down and unmotivated. Tired. Cranky. But your colleague or team member might be full of enthusiasm. If you’re not up to it, see if they’ll be happy to run the workshop or start working on that report for you.

This is not a technique to use often, because eventually, people will just see you as a slacker. However, if you ask your colleague for a favour and then offer one in return later, it balances out and work still happens. The next time your colleague is feeling down and out, you just might be able to help them.

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3. Stay motivated by making a commitment

Making a promise to somebody can be a powerful way to stay motivated.

“I’ll have this to you by the end of the week.”

When you promise you’ll deliver something by a certain time, you become committed. Now, if you don’t deliver, the following things happen:

  • It looks like you are ineffective and you lose credibility
  • You let down people who were relying on you
  • You might get in trouble for failing to do the work.

None of these things are good for anybody. When you make a commitment, it helps you stay motivated because you want to avoid these negative outcomes. Sometimes, trying to avoid bad consequences can be enough to stay motivated and get that work done.

4. Stay motivated by setting priorities

When you’re not feeling very motivated, it’s important to know what needs to be done right now, and what can wait. If you understand the urgency of your workload, you’ll focus your effort on the most critical tasks.

After you’ve cleared the work that you must do today, everything else can wait. That means you can do some less urgent tasks that perhaps you enjoy a little more. Do some reading or research, organise your task list or calendar, or book in some time to catch up with colleagues for coffee and do some networking.

Don’t try to stay motivated all day, every day. It most probably won’t happen. So make sure you use the four tips above to help you do the work, even when you don’t feel like it.

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