Do you struggle with motivation? If so, rest assured you’re not alone. In my career as an executive coach, I have had the great pleasure of working with many creative, driven and impressively successful people. I always assumed because entrepreneurs are so driven and ambitious, they must be inherently motivated, and because I easily lose steam on the motivation train, there must be something wrong with me. However, as I began to work with more business owners, I noticed an interesting pattern in their motivation cycles, and I’m willing to bet you can see some of yourself in it.
The pattern looks something like this: you get an idea; you feel a rush of excitement; a flood of ideas come through and you start to take action; you slog and slog and slog; you forget why you were so excited in the first place; you lose motivation; you assume you can’t get motivated; you feel defeated and frustrated; nearly every day becomes a grind; you begin to struggle with negative thoughts and feelings about your abilities; you feel like you’re not getting where you want to quickly enough. Sound familiar? We often find ourselves in the self-fulfilling cycle of excitement-acceleration-deceleration-demotivation.
When you get to this place, how do you pull yourself out? Do you bootstrap and carry on (more slogging) or do you take the time to find your way to a good-feeling mindset so you can get more done? If you could spend a few minutes each day doing one thing to increase your motivation, would you do it? If you've ever wanted a motivation hack, I’ve got one for you. It’s very simple: celebrate your accomplishments every day. Read on to learn three different ways to celebrate, then choose one that suits you or allow this post to inspire your own method of celebrating.
1. Get off the “urgency bus”
John Coleman, CEO & Founder of The VIA Agency, says we’ve been conditioned to finish something and immediately move on to the next thing. In his article for Fast Company, he emphasizes that when we celebrate our accomplishments, we help ourselves and our teams remain motivated, value our achievements and deepen relationships. We need to slow down our “urgency addiction” to fully appreciate what we’ve accomplished. Celebrate on your own or with your team, but take the time to congratulate yourself and honor your progress.
2. Acknowledge and embrace “near-wins”
When we toil along, nose to the grindstone, we neglect to lift our heads to see how far we’ve come. We look at success as a destination rather than a journey. When we live and work this way, small failures can feel like gigantic shortcomings and losses. In her TED Talk, art historian and author Sarah Lewis teaches us to use our near-wins as a catalyst to make adjustments and try again. She encourages us to develop a mindset of reaching toward mastery, not arriving at a pre-determined destination. She calls us to stay “at our own leading edge,” and encourages us to view near-wins as a motivating force to get to — and stay at — the edge of our own greatness. When we strive to reach rather than arrive, we tap-in to the inspiration that fuels our motivation.
3. Create celebratory rituals
Another way to fan the motivational flames is to add a celebration ritual to your day. You can do this by simply reviewing your daily “To Do” list at the end of the day, and after crossing off the completed items, say to yourself, “Ta Da! I did it!” I have my clients practice a “Ta Da!” list at the end of each day. Sounds kind of corny, right? Maybe it is, but celebrating the completion of even the simplest things (i.e., bringing the recycle bin back from the curb, organizing your email inbox, making and eating a healthy meal, etc.,) puts you in a good mood. You can positively impact your physiological and psychological wellbeing by feeling good about getting stuff done. I also highly recommend something I learned from Amy Cuddy’s TED talk about how your body language can shape who you are. You can lower your cortisol (stress hormone) levels and increase your testosterone (confidence hormone) levels by holding a power pose for two minutes. I recommend you work a power pose in with celebrating your accomplishments each day. Give it a try. It’s pretty awesome.
Whatever you decide to do to hack your motivation, whether you slow down to celebrate with your team before moving to the next project, acknowledge and celebrate your near-wins or sing, “Ta Da!” as you hold a power pose, understand the benefits of creating a feel-good feeling. Celebrating your accomplishments positions you as a winner and will attract more success; people in your circle will look for ways to participate in what you’ve successfully pulled-off. As an added bonus, your subconscious mind will start looking for more ways to “win” and get stuff done, because when you feel good, you make better choices. How can it get any better?