I have tended in the past to procrastinate. This is a passive followed by an aggressive approach to achieving goals. Much like with the different styles in which we communicate we can also approach problems and goals in the same way; either passively, aggressively, assertively or a combination. Again, an assertive approach to achieving goals is the most effective.
If we approach problems passively, we tend to ignore them, such as hiding from our problems or minimising the effects of putting these off. This can cause additional problems. In turn, we can expose ourselves to unnecessary stress and anguish.
If we approach problems aggressively, this doesn’t necessarily mean an aggressive reaction but can include this. It can refer to when we launch into solving a problem head first without giving it due consideration.
For instance, in my example of procrastination I would passively minimise the importance of the problem and any sense of urgency until the last moment, when I would aggressively jump into trying to solve it. This can increase our chances of failure. Once we fail it causes unnecessary stress and dents our self-esteem. This affects our confidence in our own abilities.
I have been trained in approaching problems and goals assertively and have found this far more effective. When we approach situations assertively, we allow ourselves sufficient time to research, reflect and respond accordingly. It is important to monitor our emotional intensity when solving problems and achieving goals so that we perform at our peak. Referring back to my article on emotions and performance, if we are too emotional it can cause additional stress. While if we are not emotional enough, we may not have the drive to approach the situation.
So, how do you motivate yourself when approaching solving problems or setting goals?
In these times of increased remote working, I find for me it is beneficial to have a routine that I adhere to. Included in this routine, I incorporate my self-care strategies. For example, on weekdays when I work, I will exercise first thing in the morning, before showering and changing into smarter attire, like I would if I were working in the office. I have a separate office from my personal space so that I can keep my work life balance in check. I ensure I take proper breaks so that I don’t burnout. Often in good weather I will also integrate a walk into this routine usually just before lunch. I also ensure that I keep to my working hours not doing unnecessary overtime. I find these strategies work for me.
Again, everyone is different, and it is important to find what works best for you. Sometimes, it may be that for whatever reason I cannot adhere to my typical routine. So, what other methods are there to support us with motivation?
It is important to bear in mind why we are doing something. Focusing on the why we are doing something in times of low motivation can be a reminder that prompts us into action. It can be useful to note this down or put up a reminder of this, for those times when we are demotivated.
In addition, focusing on reframing problems we may encounter into goals can be valuable. It’s all about the language we use. If we see a problem as something we want to avoid, it is generally not as motivational as striving to achieve something. For example, we could say to ourselves we want to avoid debt, or we could say to ourselves we want to earn more money. Which do you find more motivational?
It is also important, especially for large goals to break them down into smaller goals. That way when we achieve a smaller goal we are given a boost, a sense of achievement that can motivate us to continue working towards our larger goal. Once we achieve a smaller goal, we could also reward ourselves with whatever we find we enjoy.
In addition, it can be useful to have some pre-prepared affirmations. These are useful when we feel demotivated as there is no more powerful voice than our own. We can tell ourselves negative things about our abilities, so why not use that same voice to commend ourselves for our abilities. I have some printed out affirmations above my computer in my office for times when I feel low or demotivated. Some people may recite affirmations to themselves in the mirror at the start of the day. It is basically a positive statement we can tell ourselves. Whatever works for you.