Movie character Austin Powers referred to his special energy, which enhanced his influence on others, as “mojo” in the movie trilogy, and it’s the term I use for my inspiration or motivation toward my work. How do you maintain your mojo – especially as we end the 7th week of the COVID-19 crisis?
Many of us find it difficult to maintain a high level of motivation on a consistent basis. Add to that the potential fatigue of crisis management, working remotely, being on hours of video calls, navigating uncertainty and managing fears that come from a crisis like this, and it can be hard to stay centered on the true meaning of our work and difficult to stay “up” and motivated. In this week’s blog, I thought I’d share a list of methods for getting back in touch with our inspiration and motivation:
- Remember your purpose. To get back in touch with your central purpose, schedule time away from your day-to-day activities and answer these questions on a blank piece of paper. If you’re in a partnership, include your partners or other key leaders in the exercise:
- What is the central purpose of my/our work? What difference am I/are we committed to make for my/our clients, fellow leaders and team members?
- Why am I/are we uniquely suited to do this work?
- What do I/we love about the work? What do I/we wish were different?
- How can I/we best help our clients right now?
- How can I/we best help our people?
- What do I/we want to accomplish in the next 30 days?
- Regularly unclutter your head. Document (in writing or into Notes or another app) your work to do for this week in detail and prioritize it by day. Identify all the deliverables or other tasks that you can commit to handle this week and then reset expectations on any other commitments you have pending that just can’t happen this week. Then, let it all go from your mental reminder bank. It can be hard to feel motivated when you keep being interrupted by mental reminders of all the stuff that you owe others.
- Exercise. We’ve written a ton about maintaining your exercise mojo, but for now, suffice it to say that it is so much easier to tackle hard decisions, difficult projects or important conversations when your energy is up, and your endorphins are flowing. If you lack motivation, tie on a pair of tennis shoes and go for a walk, run, bike ride or some other form of exercise. Better yet, schedule regular exercise into your life so that you don’t have to lack motivation in the first place. Nothing can re-center you on your work or give you the energy to solve your problems like exercise can and not much matches it for making you feel better about yourself, either.
- Plan to work when you’re flowing. There’s a time management concept called “flow,” which is the period when your creative and problem-solving energies run highest and you’re able to really produce. For me, my ideal flow period is between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. – not “normal” working hours for most, but it is the time that I am able to produce my best work. Figure out when your flow period is and schedule your biggest blocks of uninterrupted work and toughest projects and discussions to occur then.
- Take a break. Inspiration isn’t easily forced. If you’re not feeling it, move away from the project, problem or person and give yourself a real break to re-energize (by exercising, working on something else, doing a quick home chore, etc.). Usually, your mind will appreciate the opportunity to let go for a while and you’ll find that you’re more motivated to address the issue when you return.
- Minimize your time spent with the ugly stuff. Right now, there is an almost unlimited amount of sad, scary and anxiety-producing news about the COVID-19 virus spread, the lack of progress in treating it, the economic fall out from the shelter-in-place process, and more. Avoid 24-hour news outlets. Don’t stream news on your phone. PULL your news from the CDC and other more factual, less political and dramatic news sources – don’t allow it to be PUSHED to you. And minimize how much time you spend with outside news so that you can stay focused on the things you can control and the places where you can make a difference.
- Remember your good fortune. Then share it. For most of us, our work is a privilege and having a job in this crisis certainly is. We’ve been given unique gifts that enable us to make a difference for others and we’re blessed to do the work that we do and get paid for it. But somehow, we allow our internal dialogue and complaints about commitments, deadlines and challenges to talk over the gratitude and grace that make up such a large part of our motivation. Write down your many blessings. Before you fall asleep, give thanks for three positive things that happened that day. Stay in close touch with the GOOD.
So, those are my ideas for maintaining your mojo in this crisis. Please share some of your mojo-maintenance ideas with us and let us know where your inspiration and motivation are coming from these days. We’d love to hear from you!
This popular blog was expanded to encompass the COVID-19 crisis and re-published today because of its relevance to our many readers.