10 ways to stay motivated
1. Get up early
As your own business owner, you might not be dedicated to getting up early. If you don’t have a reason to get up early, like kids who need to get to school, or you are working from home, it can become easy to get up a little bit later.
Although this sounds phenomenal on paper, it can drain motivation from your work day. If you are like me, you have a horrific routine, with some days only being fully awake by 11am (even when being up since 7am), and working until 12am at night. In these instances, I’m wasting time in front of my computer for about 2 to 3 hours. I’m not mentally prepared or mentally “at work.”
It sounds counter-intuitive, but getting up earlier is the solution. It simply works. When I wake up at 6am, I’m ready to start my day at 8am. I am pumped and prepared.
I can only speculate why this works for me; I think when you get up with the buzz of everyone else, you fall casually into that energy. However, when you get up a tad later, when everyone else is already driving to work, and it’s already hot (Joburg you know what I’m talking about) you hit a slump-like energy.
When you rise with the sun, you have time to settle into your day, and feel more refreshed. Be a boss and rise early.
2. Eat breakfast
There is a reason why breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
I’m not going to get too “science-y,” but it has to do with metabolic rate and blood sugar levels. When you don’t eat, your sugar levels are all over the place. And incorrect levels can cause negative stress on the body.
Eating a healthy breakfast, can also assist in setting the tone for your day, making you a #boss of your business.
3. Eat healthy snacks
Snacking throughout the day can assure that your metabolic rate and blood sugar levels are stable. Snacking can result in more focus.
Sugar and caffeine might be a go-to when feeling down. But these substances can cause imbalance and are not the greatest snacking friends; studies have shown that these substances can cause stress on the body and mind.
Snacking on salty foods is also not that great and can results in negative long-term effects on your blood pressure and heart.
Snacking on healthy fats and sugars. My go-to snacks: fruits, dried fruits (not too much though) nuts, green tea, fresh low-salted popcorn (not the healthiest, but a better evil than oily chips), low sugar muesli, rice cakes and apples with sugar free peanut butter, and hummus and carrot sticks (or cucumber and celery sticks).
The idea is to snack on foods that is easily accessible to you. I’ve got a fridge at work, and can keep fruit and veg. You might choose to take nuts and fruits to work, as its’ probably easier to grab than popcorn.
4. Drink water
Think of your brain as a sponge. When it’s dry, it can’t absorb anything, it can’t clean anything, and it can’t release any water (information). It’s hard and stubborn, not flowing and malleable. It needs water to function properly.
Water is life-giving. It cleanses the body from toxins that could be negatively affecting your behaviour. Toxins can also make you feel sick and lethargic.
And yes, caffeinated drinks don’t count as caffeine can make you feel dehydrated. If you enjoy coffee, ensure that you balance a cup with extra water.
5. Try green tea instead of caffeinated tea and coffee
Green tea’s caffeine reacts differently in the body than caffeine in coffee and tea. It also contains anti-oxidants.
Studies have shown that green tea can also assist in focus.
It’s a healthy alternative. And it makes me feel great.
6. Have a schedule/ to do list
Phew! Dedicated time to work objectives can be difficult to manage. AND finishing at a dedicated time can be even more tricky to stick to. I am a huge hypocrite. I can easily sit and work straight through until 3pm without any breaks or snacking. I can also work straight through to 11pm at night. Consistency is my biggest challenge.
Although as business owners, we might have flexibility to work alternative hours than our peers, this fluctuation can cause unnecessary stress levels.
Even if you prefer flexibility, a rhythm (aka consistency), can allow you to be more relaxed, more focusses and less lethargic. Our bodies crave a certain level of structure. It’s what helps us get up at a specific time. It’s also what helps us to sleep.
We could potentially be tricking our bodies into thinking we are in fight or flight mode, without a relaxed routine.
A structure week with forced breaks, a set time for working, and cooking and sleeping, will allow you to be more motivated and focussed in your daily life.
7. Take regular breaks
When you feel drained, take a break. Your body knows best. Apparently, adults can only focus for 45 minutes at a time.
I often have to ask myself, am I just busy or am I really productive. Pushing 3 hours of work, is every hour valuable.
I use my 10-minute breaks to get water or snack. Sometimes I switch of completely and pet my pets or listen to music. On those days I am more productive, but technically I worked less in terms of time. It relieves stress, and I’m ready to work when I’ve re-focussed.
Without exercise I’d be very grumpy. Finding time to exercise is the main challenge. Once you’ve made time, just do it. The first few times will be the most difficult. After a month, I can guarantee that you won’t be able to not exercise.
The important thing about exercise is not to overexert yourself. It’s about maintaining your level of exercise. It might be CrossFit. It might be jogging. It might be a walk in the park with your dogs. It might be yoga.
Whatever it is, get your heart rate up. That’s it. Exercise assists in the flow of oxygen to the brain, and in turn can assist with motivation levels.
Just like water is a necessity, breathing during exercise can fill the body with copious amounts of oxygen.
Speaking of oxygen, meditation and yoga are phenomenal breathing practices.
You won’t be motivated if your basic bodily needs aren’t met. We often forget about breathing. But because it’s what we do to exist, it can be the easiest way to gain focus.
Meditation might not be easy for everyone. My form of meditation is movement meditation. I fidget a lot, and sitting still isn’t my idea of calming the mind. It sometimes results in anxiety. Dance and Tai Chi are my ways of meditating and bringing breath to my attention.
10. Motivation practices
Motivation is quite personal. It is your relationship with your own behaviours, whether work or personal related.
To be motivated, you need to practice being motivated. Anything can be done with practice. But where to start? Motivation is connected to reason. It’s your why, for doing what you do. Simply being aware of your why can get you going. It’s the flame that keeps everything burning.
Even in the darkest moments, finding that flame, finding that light and working step by step on keeping that flame alight, is motivation.
Remind yourself of your why. Keep lists. Keep sticky notes. Set alarms with your why as the reminder. Do it spontaneously. Be a reminder to your wounded self, of you want to be.
BONUS! Wake up, dress up and show up
I suffer from depression and anxiety at times. Dressing up can be the hardest task when you feel drained.
From therapy, I’ve learned that even the simplest tasks can be the biggest accomplishment to get going. In order to change your outer world, sometimes it’s necessary to fake your outer world. And changing that outer world, can change your inner world too.
Dressing up for how you want your day to go can make the world of difference. If you feel sad, wear bright colours. Dress up for how you want to feel. Want to be successful? Dress up for success.
Don’t feel like showing up? Go to a networking event. Be uncomfortable. Show up. You never know where life will take you, but you have to show up first.
Don’t feel like getting up for your business? Do it anyways. Execute even the most basic tasks during the day.
Being motivated, is about designing a life worth living. Design your life for you. Make yourself a priority. It’s no one else’s responsibility but your own. Be a #boss and design your life for yourself and your business.