Staying motivated is occasionally very difficult.
No business is without its setbacks, and sometimes that can knock the wind out of you and make you wonder ‘what’s the point.’
The end of this past year was like that for me – and the truth is, I just needed a rest. 2-3 days without working (even when I felt like working) and my natural motivation has returned.
That being said – I realized I do some of these other things on a regular basis that make my motivation heartier than most. Oddly, some people think of me as one of the most motivated people they know (if only they could see the struggle, right?) but I realize that it’s because I put in a lot of work to stay motivated, because I know I do my best work when I have great mental energy.
Here are my top 16 ways to stay motivated as a leader:
1. Find the things that drain your energy that can be handed off
What’s the point of being a leader if you can’t delegate. Are you acting like you don’t have the power when you do? Perhaps you should take the next obvious step and write down 5 things you’re currently doing that drain your energy, and someone else could do 80% as well as you. Delegate 2 of these things now before you keep reading.
Your energy as a leader is extremely important.
2. Schedule more of the things that get you excited about your work
It’s so simple – but we forget to do it.
We get focused on KPI’s or really hard stuff about running a business, and we forget what we LOVE about it.
Write down 5 things that you absolutely love about your job. What do you LOVE to do?
Put time blocks on your calendar for doing 2 of those things in the next week.
3. Take time to write brief stories of 1 persons lives who you’ve changed for the better
As leaders we get a lot of opportunities to mentor, coach our team, and often hire.
These things mean we have a lot of positive implications on people’s lives, but we forget what a big impact we have on their day-to-day because we get stuck in the weeds.
Take 5 minutes to reflect on how you’ve changed 1 persons life, write a couple paragraphs on it to get it out of your head (book mark this page so you can come back and do these exercises in a time when you’re in need of motivation too. )
4. Turn ‘key tasks’ into daily or weekly habits so you don’t have to waste energy scheduling.
“Without habits, everything requires a decision, and decisions are exhausting.” – Darrin Lynch, Irish Titan
Habits = less conscious decisions about what to do with your time, giving you back some energy every day.
That being said – it’s good to clear out your schedule once a year, and always be thinking about recurring meetings etc. to subtract if it’s appropriate.
5. Find ‘just in time’ books that help give more context to key problems or opportunities
“Follow your to-do short list and fill in the information gaps as you go. Focus on what digerati Kathy Sierra calls ‘just-in-time‘ information instead of ‘just-in-case‘ information.” – Tim Ferriss
6. Find people who inspire you and study their writing + videos.
I love Gary Vee, Grant Cardone, Seth Godin, and Mike Michalowitz.
I devour their courses, their social media (maybe less these days because I’m spending more time creating than consuming) but usually read each of their new books at least.
If you’re looking for a great short audiobook to stay motivated – I love Grant Cardone’s ‘100 Ways to Stay Motivated’ (some people hate the guy, but I love this Audiobook.)
7. Establish 3 big OKR’s – Objectives and Key Results
Ok – you probably already know about how to focus on key metrics.
But have you considered trimming down the one’s your concerning yourself with this quarter to just 3 key numbers?
Less is more sometimes with these things – it will help you prioritize, and possibly get some energy back from ‘metric fatigue.’ (I just made it up.)
8. Give yourself a reward
What are we doing for fun this quarter if we knock it out of the park.
Define something epic with a smaller team of yours (perhaps doing a full company thing would be unreasonable, or tiring to coordinate.)
Take your smaller team to TopGolf, or out to steak.
9. Take a break.
If your eyes scanned the whole article to look for this one, you should probably take said break – now.
A break = means even if you want to work, you hold yourself back.
Particularly if you find yourself working compulsively.
If that’s not something you do (working neurotically) perhaps this could mean 5 minutes every few hours, or a defined ‘low-tech’ full 2 days on a weekend, or whatever restful time means to you. Understand your weaknesses in this area, and over compensate for a few days.
10. Listen to your body and mind, if you’re burnt out your quality of decision making will be low.
Something I heard recently that was helpful for me was to just ‘listen to my body.’
When you feel like stopping work – stop.
When you feel like getting to it – allow your self to work.
This might not be great advice if you’re not a workaholic – or if you’re not already hitting 40-50 hours, or whatever your ‘productive normal’ is… but for many leaders – this might be the simple guide rail that will really help them consider this topic more simply over this next week.
11. Make time for mentorship
How could you spend time with people that need your help AND that give you energy once more this week?
- Some mentees drain energy.
- You need to watch how committed you’re making yourself.
- But – having some mentorships (even outside of employees) can really help you feel like you’re giving back, which in turn – is incredibly motivating.
12. Fitness / Get out and play
For me – this just looks like a walk with my wife a few times a week, or every weekday in the summer.
30-40 minutes helps us ‘get our sillies out’, as a parent might say.
(Sometimes you need to parent yourself, and recognize the anxiety is in the body – and some good physical exertion will help.)
13. Count your wins + set a big, fun goal.
What have you accomplished this past year – write a list of 10 things now!
Aren’t you proud of yourself – Holy Shit! Congratulations.
Please don’t overlook your big wins.
Use this time perhaps, to set a goal about something that would be really fun to hit in 1 year as well. Not to beat yourself up if you don’t hit it, but just to inspire you to take bigger actions in your day to day.
14. Realize nobody really cares about you.
Why is this motivating?
Because sometimes we get so obsessive with ourselves and what we’re up to, that we get scared about what other people think.
For instance I just set a ‘wake up at 6am’ goal for the next 25 weekdays, (with fitness, meditation and a 5-point powerlist of stuff that will move my business forward,) and I told my whole Instagram following (it’s like 100 people – lol.)
Then the next day I FAILED.
I’m starting again today – because I realize no one really cares, and it’s for me more than it’s for them.
What are you not doing because you’re scared of failing publicly. What if I told you failing publicly is a great way to increase resolve and grit? Get up and do the thing you know you should.
15. Do an ‘RPM’ brainstorm – Result, Purpose, Massive Action Plan to ensure priorities
I talk more about this in this idea here – but basically you:
- Write R – P and M down the side of a blank piece of paper.
- First you write the result you want from the week (or month, or year, or whatever) and then you write the purpose of accomplishing that result beneath that.
- Lastly next to the M – you write your ‘Massive Action Plan’ for accomplishing that result. I love a week increment, and this list can then directly get plotted into your daily to-do’s for that week.
16. Understand it’s ok to leave it ‘all on the field’ and different times of the day have high energy & low.
Are you discouraged because you’re dog-tired at 5:30pm?
I know, I know – Gary Vee and [insert your preferred hustle guru here] suggest that if you love what you’ll do you’ll never be tired – and if that is currently the case good for you – but most of us need to rest.
And it’s ok – in fact, it’s awesome if you are tired because that means you ‘left it all on the field.’
This just means – you’re not ‘conserving energy for the next day.’ If after your responsibilities for the day are done you’re totally tired – basically, I challenge you to think of this as a good thing.
Anything else? comment below if you have other ways to stay motivated as a leader!
Also check out with this interview with Stephan Bajaio from Conductor about this same topic: