Sometimes there's a disconnect between what we feel like doing and what we expect ourselves to do. Your mood or energy levels might be low but for some reason, you still have high expectations about what you will achieve. High expectations are great motivators when you're 'on form' as they push you to keep going, but when you're not they can drive you down.
There is something to say about stepping away (see our previous post 'When to step away') or when needed, to take time out altogether as put by freelance writer, Kate Tattersfield.
"Learning to embrace all moods. This was something I tried to do quite early. It's impossible to feel positive and productive all the time so if you just can't be arsed, say it aloud and embrace it, slob out and then make a conscious attempt to switch to a positive mindset."
Kate Tattersfield, Freelance writer
However if there is a deadline looming or you’re worried that apathy has set in, try matching your expectations with your energy levels, and then build from there.
- Write down what you expect yourself to do or achieve
This could be a list of tasks or the project or goal.
- Check your energy level
You could try a mindful check-in or just ask yourself the question 'How am I feeling?'.
- Make them real
Write down how you're feeling. Doing so will turn these loose, foggy thoughts into something solid and external to be reviewed objectively.
- Be realistic
Look back at your expectations and compare them to what you just noted. Are you being realistic? Do you have the energy level to meet these expectations? Do you need to build up to it? Are your expectations too high?
- Take one step forward
Select and complete an easy task to get the ball rolling. Or look at your goal and ask yourself “What’s the next thing I can do?”. Focusing on the ‘can’ part factoring in your energy levels and thing like time limitations.
- Trick your brain
Getting started is the hardest part - if you are still struggling to complete step 5 try tricking your brain with a little white lie, i.e. ‘I will do exercise for 5 minutes and if I don’t like it I’ll stop’ or ‘I’ll just write 50 words...'. Whatever it takes to become comfortable with getting started.
- Pay attention to your achievements
Building up sustainable motivation is a long game. Set aside some time each day (we recommend towards the end of your working day) to reflect on what you’ve done. When building up motivation, as strange or silly as it might feel, focus on the small wins like 'Today I got out of bed on time’, as doing so will lay the foundations you'll need to get back on form.
Why pay attention to 'feelings'?
Finding strategises to manage your emotions, mood, and energy levels, alongside your work is key when working for yourself - especially when job seeking. It will increase your productivity, sense of achievement, and general enjoyment (Yes job seekers, there is a way to enjoy the process). Plus it's one of many 'soft skills' that are valuable by employers, colleagues, and business partners. If you're interested to find out more explore 'emotional intelligence’ and 'social intelligence’.
The founder and course mentor at The Monday Morning Club