Sometimes, when back to working in the office, we might experience stressful thinking such as: ‘I have to go to this meeting’ or, ‘I have to do this task’. It’s a tough way to think and it makes it hard to motivate ourselves, as it creates inner resentment and stress. Choice-based thinking such as ‘I want to achieve X, Y, Z in this meeting’ helps to create freedom and motivation.
Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize winner and author of Thinking, Fast and Slow proved that we are primarily driven by feelings, not rationale. This approach is a way of using your thoughts to shape your feelings, to motivate yourself.
· Tip 1: Experiment shifting your thinking from, ‘I have to do this task’ to I ‘choose to’ and even, ‘I’m willing to…’.
· Try this reframing exercise out for size – don’t force it. Just allow it as a new way of experimental thinking. See what happens to your feelings when you do that. How motivated do you feel?
Practical motivation tip: weave in joyful experiences
We are definitely more motivated when we experience enjoyment - it builds our resilience too. We’ve been through relentless challenge working from home and it’s time to bring back the joy as we move - perhaps part-time or on a more flexible basis than previously - to the office or another out-of-home workplace. So, how can you bring the fun in to your commute and/or your working day?
· Tip 2: Like a detective, identify big and tiny joyful elements in life – what makes you smile? Create a mini mind map to help you more clearly visualise these moments/elements/feelings/experiences/things/people.
· Tip 3: Schedule in regular micro-moments of some of those things into your working day - from day 1 of being back in the office. Make it a regular part to weave these into your working day - even for a few minutes.
Example: my joyful things were dancing, friends and conversation. So, I weaved them into my working day – a short burst of exercise time in the morning before I step out the house, then calling a friend on the walk into work. Finally, fewer emails on my working from days and booking in face to face conversations instead, to chat about those work issues on the days when I’m in the office.
Mindset motivation: Working with Solutions-Focused approaches
A solutions-focused strategy is one of the most pragmatic and proven approaches in psychology and behaviour change. ‘Problem-focused’ language - talking in circles about what you don’t want to do or what the problem is - lessens our motivation
Solutions-focused simply focuses on possibilities for change. And it also encourages you to describe all your goals in terms of what you want, not what you don’t want e.g. ‘I want to stay calm and get my point across in the meeting’ instead of ‘I don’t want to do a presentation in the meeting’. It’s not positive thinking, it’s ‘possibility thinking’.
· Tip 4: Bring to mind a particular challenge that demotivates you at work - maybe a new thing you are facing now you are back in the office?
· Tip 5: Describe what you are aiming for rather than what the challenge is. Choose something within your control, not something you want to change about others’ feelings or behaviours.
· Tip 6: Imagine what life will look like when what you want is in place. What will you be doing differently and saying differently?
· Tip 7: Recall similar challenges you have resolved in the past and what you did to make that happen. What qualities, strengths and resources did you use? Reflect on all the qualities, strengths and inner resources you have to solve this current challenge.
· Tip 8: What possible small steps for change does all this reflection highlight? Take one small step for change.
Ideally do this in a conversation with a trusted colleague - ten mins each way, hopefully over a cup of tea or lunch. This is part of a supportive peer coaching approach where you motivate each other without giving solutions.
Practical motivation: Boost your motivation with pre-rewards
Many of my coachees have long-term goals that require ongoing motivation and resilience.
It might not feel very important that you reward yourself right now, but treats/rewards are a fundamental motivation driver and shouldn’t be underestimated. We’ve been through huge challenges since the pandemic struck in early 2020 and we have been resilient to uncertainty for more than a year. Rewards are essential for motivation.
Pre-treats are just as important and maybe even more motivating than traditional post-success rewards. They demonstrate self-compassion and so are part of your emotional intelligence skillset.
· Tip 9: Give yourself a pre-treat as a kind way to motivate yourself to going back to the workplace. After the first week, reward yourself with a treat to celebrate how well you’ve done.
· Tip 10: For long-term motivation, when you set targets plan in your pre- and post-treats always have a balance of two types of treats. Personal rewards are things you love, enjoy and find beautiful. Secondly, there are rewards that are beneficial for your career and learning. For example, a career-boosting, a career-related book, an empowering career -related course, or a coaching or mentoring session - something that will propel your work or career forward.
Resilience is also about thriving at work and in life. It's about:
· Embracing opportunities at work.
· Making the most of the wonderful moments at work and in life.
· Seeking out opportunities to work with people you enjoy - to take part in projects for example with staff you enjoy working with.
Andry Anastasis McFarlane is an experienced learning consultant, executive coach, international workshop facilitator and keynote speaker. The Learning Moment offers workshops, courses, executive coaching and learning consultancy within the UK. The Really Resilient Guide is Andry's first book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Really-Resilient-Guide-Surviving-Uncertainty/dp/B08F6PK2DH/
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