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3 Keys to Staying Motivated

As a coach, one of the things I’m asked most often is, “how do you stay motivated?” And while it’s a reasonable question, it usually makes me want to laugh. Why? Because most mornings, the only thing I feel motivated to do is to eat my body weight in Cinnabon and chase it with Amarula spiked coffee.

Fortunately for me (and my cholesterol) motivation isn’t only dependent on what we feel like doing.

At its most basic, motivation is the driving force that inspires our actions. And this driving force has been studied in millions of ways over the years. One of the bigger debates about motivation is whether it’s driven by external factors like compensation or internal factors like purpose. Increasingly, science is showing that motivation comes from within. In one of the 25 most popular TED Talks of all time, author Daniel Pink gives a breakdown of motivation at work that’s worth noting.

For me, staying motivated comes down to OPP.

If you’re a fan of 90s hip-hop, you may think I’m referring to Naughty by Nature’s old school anthem (if you’re not a fan of 90s hip-hop, I suggest you maintain your innocence and refrain from googling the lyrics). In my case, OPP stands for Owning your Purpose and Process.

Why owning? Because many of us, in particular women, weren’t taught to be intentional about our careers. There was a standard narrative growing up: go to school, work hard, get a good job. Many of us have done that, and now it’s like, okay.… what next? We hang out in this no man’s land for another few decades?

I recently had a coaching session with a client who wants to make a career change, but she was doubtful she could take the steps towards something new. When I asked her how she felt about her current line of work and how motivated she was, her response was, “I don’t hate it.”

Friend. It will be hard to feel motivated and put a good foot forward every day if, at best, you “don’t hate” what you’re doing. This is not a sentiment that leads to inspired action.

But this is where ownership comes in. As Maya Angelou said, “Nothing will work unless you do.” Even though I’m a big believer in approaching work with a spirit of ease and enjoyment, Angelou’s words are an essential reminder that no one but you has the power to make your dreams come true. So we have to unapologetically own our futures and do what’s necessary today to create the tomorrows we want.

The second part of OPP is purpose and keeping it at the forefront of all we do. If you’ve

ever been in a coaching session with me, a workshop, or a class, you know we’re beginning by defining our purpose, articulating our big why. This is because purpose, whether or not we’re aware of it, informs what we choose to do and what we choose not to do.

Personally, when I can see how my day-to-day activities fit into the bigger picture for my future, it gives me the energy to keep going. Focusing on purpose makes it less about the task and more about the impact it can have. For example, creating PowerPoint slides is usually not the most exciting part of my day; but when I’m working on slides for Accelerate, my professional development course for women, I am hyped! Why? Because when I think about the difference that class, and the information on that slide, can have in a woman’s life, doing the mundane starts to feel like a privilege.

The final part of OPP is the process. If I waited until I felt like doing things, I would be waiting until the last minute. To help myself along, I build systems and routines for things that need to be done so I don’t have to rely solely on how I’m feeling or willpower. For example, I am not a big fan of admin, but the paperwork must be done, regularly. So I have a standing weekly appointment to make sure it happens. This way, even when I’m not feeling motivated, I have fewer excuses. There’s also a certain relief in the process, knowing that once I’ve used my allocated time, I don’t have to touch it again until next week.

Owning your purpose and process…it's what keeps me motivated even when the idea of pastries on demand is more appealing. Subscribe to our mailing list to receive these posts directly in your inbox.📩


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