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We’ve all had those devastating moments in both our lives and careers. Whether it be a breakup, death, illness, layoff or any countless of obstacles in life can crush our motivation. Recently someone asked me:
How not to let personal problems drown one’s motivation levels? How to stay focused on the bigger picture and letting go of small failures?
She is asking, “Something rocked my world, so how do I keep that from impacting what I need to get done in my professional life?”
It was a fantastic question. It made me think of all the ways I’ve witnessed and done to get past personal problems while keeping your motivation levels intact. As our personal and professional worlds become more integrated, an impact in one starts to impact the other.
Here are some quick points that I gave to her to keep those obstacles in life from crushing her life and career motivation levels.
7. Allow Yourself to Mourn – Just Not Forever
Anytime you encounter a loss, you’re going to feel the need to mourn. Let it happen! Especially for overachievers, we try and fight the urge. You’ve got to go through what you need to go through and feel what you need to feel. Let it consume you, just not for too long.
Like a cold, you can either fight the mourning process and let it linger forever, or take the time to get it through your system. Allow yourself to feel the funk. Crawl into a corner in the fetal position and cry it out. Blow it out your nose like a cold. Get it out. However you do it, allow yourself to mourn because both your mind and body need it.
The longer you fight the process of mourning that personal problem, the more energy it takes from maintaining your motivation levels.
6. Pick the Right Personal Problems to Mourn
Whether it’s a personal or career failure, determine if it’s a bruised ego or if it is something really important to you. If you determine it is really important to you, then determine if it is healthy and right for you. There is a huge difference.
The expectations of others often drive the impacts of personal failures. Maybe it was something you knew on some level wasn’t right. Don’t dwell on these problems for too long as they’ll be the first to zap your motivation.
Determine why you thought it was right for you when you know it’s not. The process is tough. We’ve all done it at some point. It keeps you from getting into the same situation again – for all the wrong reasons.
5. Forgive Others – And Yourself
Forgiveness is the most incredible gifts of empowerment you can give yourself as it frees an incredible amount of emotional energy. The act of forgiveness is solely for your benefit. For the typical overachiever, forgiveness of yourself is critical to keeping your motivation levels and on your path.
Although you should forgive, you should never forget. You’ll end up in the same situation or do the same thing again. After a time, you realize you are repeating the process and quickly extinguishing your motivation.
Quickly forgive but never forget.
4. Determine if You Need to Be ‘All Out’ for a Time
I’ve seen it time and time again – when someone is juggling serious personal problems while trying to maintain career performance. I can work for a short period but rarely works for a long time.
There are times in life when you just need to take some time away. It’s the best thing for you, your colleagues, family, and friends. When everyone is expecting you to be ‘all in’ for work and you aren’t – physically, emotionally or mentally – it takes a toll on everyone’s motivation levels. While not everyone has the choice if you do consider taking some time away.
Do what you need to do – even if that is going through the mourning process – and transition back. Otherwise, you are just holding the process back, impacting others and potentially creating more problems than you are currently juggling.
There have been times as a leader I have forced time away for those that didn’t want it. I could tell the personal problems needed absolute focus and determination. While it wasn’t easy and they weren’t happy, they were thankful at the end.
Sometimes you need to be ‘all out’ of one thing for a period of time to be ‘all in’ to another thing that needs resolution. If you have the opportunity, leverage it because your longer-term motivation levels will thank you.
3. Talk it Out and Get Support
Let people know about your personal problems, but be thoughtful to whom you tell what. Not everyone needs to know everything, but just telling some of the world what you are going through can add a monumental level of relief.
If you have a trusted colleague, this can help recover some of what you’ll miss at work while you are taking care of what’s important in life. These are also the people who will build you back up when you need it most.
2. Pick Some Easy Wins
We all need to boost our confidence. Do something in the short-term that will give you a challenge but you are pretty sure you can win. It will help to recover your confidence and your motivation.
Be kind to yourself and don’t push the boundaries too much when you are resolving personal problems. You’ll have all the time in the future to tackle seemingly impossible challenges. You don’t want to create those now.
1. Find a Mentor
Your mentor is someone that has shown success (in however you measure it) in the areas of your personal problems. Get some advice even over coffee. Start with talking about some of their failures and what they did to recover.
Guess what – if they have become successful at something extraordinary – they’ve encountered failures with it in the past. Learn from them and try and mitigate some of the same mistakes. More importantly, use it to get back on YOUR bike.
We’ve all had those moments in life that just – well – suck. There are just a few tips to hold on to your motivation – and hope – during those turbulent personal problems. Above all, try to never lose confidence in yourself throughout those times.