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It’s never fun to feel completely zapped of energy and willpower. It’s a state of being that makes you feel lethargic and less than productive. And, unfortunately, it’s a state that’s easy to slip into with so many of us still working from home or trying to social distance.

How can you break the lethargy and boost your willpower? How can you escape the cycle of procrastination and drudgery? As tempting as they are, distractions are not the answer. You’ll end up tuning in to the fun/entertaining/relaxing distraction and putting off what you should be doing.

Instead, try one of these five tips:

1. Focus on outcomes

The more you focus on the time beyond your procrastination, the easier it will be to move forward. Think about the positive outcomes that will occur when you do whatever it is you’re putting off. If you’re not looking forward to going to the gym, think about how nice it will be to have a healthy, toned body. If you’re dreading filling out a particular report, think about how happy you’ll be once it’s complete. Focusing on outcomes or positive results can give you the willpower you need to do the task at hand.

2. Set bite-sized goals

If you’re sitting on the brink of a large project and you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath and set a few bite-sized goals. Every big task can be broken down into smaller parts. If you need to clean your entire garage, for instance, begin by focusing on one particular section (organizing garden tools, for instance, or sweeping the floor). If you have to write a lengthy report, challenge yourself to write a single page or fill out one section. Once you dig in, it will be easier to keep going.

3. Set a reward

Once you’ve determined a few goals, think about how you might reward yourself once they are complete. For smaller goals, you might buy yourself a pint of ice cream or enjoy a glass of wine. For larger goals, you might treat yourself to a nice dinner or a professional massage. Is it bribery? Sure, but it’s bribery with a purpose! Setting rewards will give you something to look forward to and will help give you a jolt of energy and focus.

4. Pinpoint the reason for your reluctance

It’s possible that you’re putting something off because you simply do NOT like it. In some cases, that’s just the way it is; you have to fill out that annual review or write that report, whether you like it or not. In other cases, however, you can change your tasks so they are more enjoyable. For instance, if you do not like running on a treadmill to get in shape, you might switch to a rowing machine or elliptical. If you don’t like cleaning up after dinner, perhaps you could cook, while someone else cleans. At work, you might bring up your likes and dislikes to your boss and see if it’s possible to do more of X and less of Y. Maybe one of your co-workers hates X and loves Y, in which case, you might discuss shuffling responsibilities.

5. Try the 5-minute challenge

What can you do right now, within about 5 minutes? Challenge yourself to set a timer and DO IT. Completing one small task can give you motivation to complete others.

It’s never easy to have low motivation and low willpower, but it is possible to pull yourself out of your slump. Try one (or several) of these 5 tips and see how you feel. Chances are, you just need some forward motion in your life to give you the momentum to keep going.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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hiking-1149985_640

A couple weeks ago, I spent 15 days in Poland, volunteering for World Youth Day. I took away many incredible lessons, including one that I wrote about last week. This week, I’d like to write about one particular take-away that can be applied to life, in general. That lesson has to do with resilience.

While I was in Poland, the weather was hot and humid. During these muggy days, the group I was with walked anywhere from 5 to 10+ miles on any given day, often in full sunlight. We walked the streets of Krakow, Zakopane, and Warsaw. We walked a 10 mile-long pilgrimage trail to see Pope Frances, and then walked back! We walked to bus stops, on country paths, to dinner…you name it!

Even though some days were physically taxing (especially the pilgrimage to see the Pope; the road was not only long, but packed with thousands of other people!), I didn’t hear a single complaint. Instead, we soldiered on and those who were feeling fine helped those who were having a hard time. I saw some people carrying multiple backpacks in order to give their fellow pilgrims a hand.

It was an astonishing example of resilience.

As I watched all the dedicated people walking down the pilgrim trail, it reminded me that, when inspired, you can do nearly anything. If something means a lot to you—whether in your personal or professional life—you will do whatever it takes to claim it or hold onto it. That’s the nature of resilience—it comes from within.

Next time you feel your resolve faltering, get inspired! Remember why what you’re doing matters. Remind yourself that you are strong and you can push through anything. And, when you do persevere, don’t forget to reward yourself!

And if you’re truly having trouble finding your motivation? That might be an indication that a major life change is in order. But, before making any drastic leaps, try finding a spark of inspiration and calling upon your inner resilience. Your mind is a powerful machine and the more you convince yourself that you CAN do something, the more likely that you’ll actually be able to do it.

March on!

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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Find your spark.UXL blog

I hope you had a chance to watch the fireworks over this past Independence Day weekend. I know I always find inspiration and awe when I’m watching the bright colors burst across the sky. It makes me think of possibilities and all the wonder we can find in the world if we just take the time to look.

What sparks your imagination? If you’re feeling a little lackluster lately, maybe it’s time to find inspiration in the world around you. Try a few of the following activities in the next couple weeks and reclaim your imagination and motivation!

1. Take a walk WITHOUT your cell phone. Observe the world around you and notice the different colors, shapes, types of people, houses, and landscapes.

2. Visit an art gallery and really take the time to immerse yourself in the paintings and sculptures. Get up close and look at the brush strokes or the texture of the bronze/wood/metal.

3. If you’re able, work in a new location today. Bring your laptop to a coffee shop, library, or other public area and notice how you work differently in the new environment.

4. Add some spice to your life by taking a cooking class! Enroll in a class that teaches you how to cook a brand new dish or uses a technique with which you’re unfamiliar.

5. Call an old friend. Talking with someone who you haven’t spoken with in a while can spark old memories and get your mind churning.

6. Attend a concert. Whether it’s a rock show, a piano recital, or the symphony, music can tickle parts of your brain that you don’t often use and give you a healthy dose of inspiration.

7. Talk with a child. If you’re not often around small children, the complicated and insightful things they say might take you by surprise.

8. Learn a new skill. Be it wood working, stained glass-making, or Microsoft Excel, it’s a good idea to stretch your brain and get inspired by something new.

9. Travel! Get outside your comfort zone AND your zip code. Learn about new cultures, foods, and ways of living by traveling somewhere brand new. Challenge yourself to venture outside the tourist zones and mingle with the locals.

10. Join a meet-up group with the intention of making a new friend. When we become completely entrenched in our routines, it’s hard to find room (or motivation!) for making new acquaintances. Facilitate a new friendship by joining a local meet-up group that interests you and start talking with the other attendees. Check out Meetup.com for a long lists of clubs and meet-ups.

11. Open yourself. At the core of this list is YOU. Your attitude, your outlook on life, your optimism—those are the driving forces of a truly inspired life. If you open yourself to new experiences and new ways of thinking, you’ll surely find your own personal spark of inspiration.

 

Good luck on your search.

 

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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