Motivation is a constant need for all of us. Although some days it can be tough, we all need that reason to get out of bed in the morning. When building a business, the level of motivation needs to be at its peak from the second you open your eyes in the morning, until you lay down at night – often times the fire continues to burn during your dreams.
But occasionally, that fire has a tendency to fade. Many times it only fades for a few minutes, but if those minutes turn to hours or days, it can have dire effects on your productivity and progress.
Fear not, it’s common to get into a “slump” and lack motivation. However, having a true passion for what you do tends to encourage and nurture that motivation you desire. These “slumps” could be a fleeting feeling, but could also be the start of the dreaded “B” word – Burnout!
If you find yourself lacking the motivation you’re accustomed to, it may be due to a few common practices many business professionals are guilty of.
Don’t Get Hangry
When you get into your groove, and find yourself overwhelmingly busy, it’s easy to skip breakfast, lunch or dinner, all in favour of meeting that deadline or hammering out that new idea. But in reality, limiting your body’s intake of nutrients, actually affects your productivity, decision-making and motivation.
A 2010 study by Columbia and Ben-Gurion Universities looked at 1,112 judicial rulings over the course of 10 months concerning prisoner paroles. The study showed that judges granted parole to around 60% of prisoners right after the judge had eaten a meal. The rate of approval crept down after that. Right before a meal, the judges granted parole to about 20%.
The study suggested that the less glucose in judges’ bodies, the less willing they were to make the active choice of setting a person free, and were more likely to go with the passive choice to put the fate of the prisoner off until a future date. Glucose supplies almost all of the energy for the brain, and it’s found in many forms of carbohydrates that we eat. But by neglecting our diet in favour of other tasks, the results become evident. In this case, the motivation to weigh out the pros and cons of each individual case waned as the hours rolled on.
Don’t be the hungry judge. Your lack of motivation could simply be caused by neglecting your diet.
Get the Hell Outta Dodge
Maybe you just need a vacation. The best thing I ever did when faced with the onset of burnout was take a week off to go to an island, sit by a pool, meet new people, and “unplug,” (although my phone was beside me most of the day). Taking a break from the day-to-day grind payed off tremendously. It allowed me to take a deep breath and re-energize.
Although while on vacation I made some valuable business contacts, had a chance to rethink the direction, and realign the same goals, it’s also useful to leave your business behind.
Software Entrepreneur Susan De Jong believes it’s important to avoid thinking about planning and getting ahead at work while on vacation because your mind needs a break. “Our best ideas often come when we aren’t actively thinking about a problem,” she says. “Our brains churn away, unnoticed, while we are doing something else.” De Jong says new sights and experiences can trigger new thoughts, and there’s a good chance we’ll return with new, innovative ideas.
And you don’t have to go far for that vacation. In our cash-strapped society, vacation can be as simple as heading to a B-and-B just outside of town. The point is to get away from your regular surroundings to allow a mental reset to happen.
Paralysis By Analysis
Ever wonder why you can get so tired out from grocery shopping? Decisions.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama spent minimal time on small but necessary decisions by simplifying his options. “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” [Obama] said to Vanity Fair in 2011. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”
According to the 44th president, the act of making decisions erodes your ability to make later decisions. Even his day-to-day choices were whittled down. In 2012, hundreds of pages of White House memos were released, showing what the President’s workflow looked like. Obama reportedly requested written advice as opposed to spoken, allowing him to hone in on the important aspects, as opposed to hearing it in conversation. And he had special decision memos delivered to his desk, always followed by three checkboxes:
__Agree __Disagree __Let’s Discuss
Like his simple wardrobe, Obama’s checkboxes demand simplicity. Why respond with an essay, when you can complete it in multiple choice.
Although many of us lack a personal staff ready to tailor our decisions of the day, we can observe some of the same approaches to simplicity. For example, excessive decision making can be minimized through establishing a routine. Instead of deciding when to walk the dog, do laundry or exercise, schedule it at the same time daily, removing the task of deciding when your tasks will be completed.
Whatever it is that helps to reignite your spark, it’s important to make time in your schedule to realign and reset before burnout sets in. There’s no worse feeling then the anxiety and frustration of not being able to get out of bed, or move on to the next big decision or project. Don’t be a prisoner in your own company.
This article was written by Matt Pasut, the President of CR Creative Co.
Follow him on LinkedIn for more business insight and advice.