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How Often Are You In the Zone?

Written by Bonnie Van Epps, Director of Talent Development

Some weeks I’m far more motivated to work out and eat healthy. Other weeks the motivation fades and I’m left grabbing too many snacks and counting the short walk to the park with my son as a “workout” for the day.

At work, being faced with deadlines, a great team that’s counting on me, and work that I’m passionate about typically keeps my motivation high, yet there are still those moments within a day where I feel the haze of demotivation set in.

Being in the “motivation zone” FEELS better and I accomplish more, so the burning question is, “What can I do to spend more time in the motivation zone?!”

At a 2016 First Business seminar, Elain Beaubian spoke on how to motivate people to peak performance. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing Elaine speak, you know that motivation, energy and engagement never seem to be an issue for her.

I learned so many great tips on motivation and engagement, but here’s a few that really resonated with me and have helped me focus, re-engage, and self-motivate in those moments where it’s fading. I hope these help you too:

Light a Fire from WITHIN, not a Fire UNDER. Deadlines are important and certainly can motivate behavior in the short term, however don’t ever forget to light the fire within and remember why you do the work you do.

For me, focusing on who I’m serving in my organization and the meaning behind the work I’m doing is the fire I need to keep going. Creating slide decks and configuring our talent management system aren’t terribly exciting tasks, but I’m passionate about working with the great employees we have and providing tools and resources for  them to be even more effective in their roles and as they serve our clients. That is what fuels my fire within.

Get the Facts. If you’re stuck, ask yourself, “Do I have the knowledge, information, and tools to be successful?” If it’s a no, then see who you can ask for help in order to be successful.

At the seminar, Elaine asked everyone to stand up and face south. There were no windows and some people had never been in that room before. You can imagine the chaos and nervous laughter that ensued. I’m directionally challenged, yes, but her point was, perhaps you know which direction south is when you’re standing in your home, but you may not know which way south is HERE. So before you guess which way is south in a windowless room, stop. Identify what you need to be successful and then take action to get what you need.

Taking action is always more motivating than remaining stuck!

Celebrate Successes AND Failures. Sometimes things move so fast that when a project wraps up, you simply move on to the next project. No time is spent on the small or major accomplishments of the project.

Now I’m learning to pause, reflect on what went well with the project, what I learned from the experience, who else I can recognize and give credit to, and then take a moment to celebrate the success. This motivates me to focus my sights on success with the next project.

Similarly, it’s important to pause and reflect on the disappointments or those things that didn’t go according to plan. How you handle failure is just as important as how you handle success. When a baby is first learning to walk, we encourage and cheer them on every single step they take, regardless of how often they fall down along the way. We don’t focus on the falling down. Instead, we let them learn from it and encourage them to get back up and try again.  Don’t be afraid to do this for yourself. If you learn from your failures, you’re bound to find future success.

The next time you’re running out of motivation and need a non-caffeinated energy boost, consider this:

  • What’s your fire within?
  • What do you need to be successful and what action can you take to get there?
  • What recent successes and failures can you celebrate and learn from?

My hope is that the answers lead you to spend more time in your motivation zone!

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