What we give our care and attention to grows. As a leader, one of the simplest ways to be inspirational and motivational to others is to show them that you care. When you lend your focused attention to any kind of work, it demonstrates your passion and beliefs.
Our energy has great power to impact others. But what do you do when it’s lacking? Sometimes, it’s not so easy to summon the will to care. We may know that we should bring our brightest light, but we can’t get the switch to turn on. Even when we want to be, we aren’t invested in a particular project. We might feel disconnected to our company or not certain our efforts will be worthwhile. As a manager of others, we may not be all that interested in particular employees.
If we want to be a more energetic presence at work, can we make ourselves care? Or is it binary: we care or we don’t?
To quote the motivational guru Zig Ziglar: “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” Staying motivated requires systematic attention. You can’t just expect motivation to kick in; you have to work at it.
Here are five strategies to turn up the passion when you’re feeling apathy set in.
Don’t wait for positive feelings.
As James Hill, an occupational therapist and practitioner of action-oriented Japanese Morito Therapy, posits: “Is it accurate to assume that we must ‘overcome’ fear to jump off the high dive at the pool, or increase our confidence before we ask someone out for a date?” Hill goes on to say if that were the case, we’d “still be waiting to do these things.”
His point is that there’s power in action preceding emotion, because action shapes emotion.
To get through this apathetic period, heed author Oliver Burkeman’s advice: “When you’re mired in negative emotions about work, resist the urge to try to stamp them out. Instead, get a little distance — step away from your desk, focus on your breath for a few seconds — and then just feel the negativity, without trying to banish it. Then take action alongside the emotion. Usually, the negative feelings will soon dissipate. Even if they don’t, you’ll be a step closer to a meaningful achievement.”
Develop a routine.
James Clear, speaker, entrepreneur and author of Transform Your Habits, suggests establishing a pre-game routine to get you through these ruts. Using his experience as a baseball player as an example, Clear says that there were many days when his body was tired and he wasn’t up to playing, but that he had to learn how to overcome that apathy, “…the game is going to be played whether you feel like playing or not, so you better figure out a solution to overcoming your lackluster emotions. I did this by developing a pre–game routine that would automatically pull me out of a funk and push me over that threshold to perform well.”
As he describes it, by establishing a series of rote behaviors, he was able to overcome his lack of motivation: “My pre–game routine started a cascade of internal events that pulled me into the right frame of mind and made it more likely that I would succeed.”
The same applies in the business world. For your routine to work, Clear says it must be easy (“so easy that you can’t say no to it”), involve physical movement, and be repeated every single time.
“When you don’t feel motivated, it’s often too much work to figure out what you should do next. When faced with another decision, you will often decide to just quit. However, the pre–game routine solves that problem because you know exactly what to do next. There’s no debating or decision making. You just follow the pattern.”
Hang around enthusiasts.
We often forget how much other people’s positivity or negativity impacts us. If you want to motivate yourself to care more, spend more time with those who already do. If you want to reinvigorate yourself as a manager, make it a point to seek out a colleague who thrives as a leader of people. If you’re disenchanted at work, stay away from the malcontents who like to gripe.
Not only do you get the advantage of good energy rubbing off on you, but you also can get some new ideas for facing existing issues.
Do an autonomy audit.
According to Dan Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, when you are feeling uninspired, you should can perform an “autonomy audit.” On a scale of 1-10, rate how much control you have over the following four areas:
1. How you spend your day (Time)
2. The people you spend it with (Team)
3. Your main responsibilities (Tasks)
4. The strategies you use to fulfill them (Technique)
According to Pink, the more autonomy we have over our lives, the more engaged we are. So when we do an audit and find we don’t have much control in one particular area, then we should push ourselves to take small, incremental steps to improve in that area.
Ultimately taking more control in these critical areas will help set us on the right path to caring more about ourselves and others. In other words, to engage others, first we must engage ourselves.
Kristi Hedges is a leadership coach, speaker and author of The Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others. She blogs at kristihedges.com
This article was written by Kristi Hedges from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.