The Secret to Recharge Depleted Motivation

First ask yourself: What Do I Want?

“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” — Confucius

To be fair, we all need motivation. Often we are lazy, or unmotivated. But that’s not the core problem. We don’t lack motivation. Instead, we care about what others have to say more than what is needed.

The real reason we don’t want to get started or pursue our dreams isn’t a lack of motivation, but rather our fears. What if people don’t approve my ideas? What would happen if this society doesn’t accept me?

We’re right. Look around and you’ll find hundreds of people who had to give up their dreams just because they were too scared to take the first step. I’d like to add a bonus thought here.

Sometimes we care way too much about what others think because we look up to them for support. We believe they would help us take that first step when we just aren’t ready. We also care more about making up things we think would make us socially acceptable. We don’t want to lose our friends and family, our social standing just because our ideas don’t speak to their egos or what’s generally acceptable.

I’ve been trying to figure out the potentially rewarding ideas that actually speak to me – what I want – not someone else’s ego, opinions, feelings, or thoughts. Of course, it is not easy to view ourselves through the lens of others. But if you really want to break free, you have to care more about your own self than other people and their ideas.

The Self Care Equation

You’ll note that there are two parts to the self-care equation – first, stop prioritizing other people’s opinions and caring about what other people think. And second, actively invest in your interests.

When you stop caring about your ideas and fail to actively invest in your own interest, you only end up letting negative opinions, thoughts flow back inside your head.

Know What You Want

One reason we care more about other people’s opinions or ‘log kya kahein ge’ is because it’s the easier thing to do. It’s safer to ‘go with the flow’ and sadly, it is one thing that has been taught to us since the day we were born.

Standing up against the social norms is harder, and scarier to say the least. If you want to be a strong woman and if your thoughts that don’t match with what’s acceptable – you are going to have a really hard time.

Instead of basing your “success” on others, it’s time to figure what you want.

When you figure out what you want, you’d no longer be afraid. In fact, the fear of log kya kahein ge will be quieted a bit. And the best part – following your dreams won’t be “scary.”

How to Know What You Want

It’s really hard to figure that out. But once you get there, all you have to do is just pursue it.

We do know what we want. Somewhere, deep down inside, we have wants and needs that are defined by our preferences and thoughts. Our brain has an opinion on literally anything. But sometimes we misplace our preferences as easily we misplace our wallet and keys.

To figure out your purpose, you must first stop shouting at yourself. Also, don’t let anyone control your life. Don’t look for an immediate answer – that’s not how it works.

I came across an interesting piece by Christopher D. Connors. “Every plan and every action that you take should begin from that very simple question – What do I want.”

“What you want should come from your desire, passion, skills, natural talents and intuitive reasoning to want to arrive at the place that speaks to who you are and where you see yourself going.

When you get to that essence of living and being, the picture will become much clearer. You can then put together a plan based on your desire and the strategy that accompanies it.

This is a critical distinction to point out. What you really want may not be a job or career that can happen overnight. But it’s worth working toward for a future day. This way, you ensure that you are taking steps to live the life that is really yours, as opposed to trying to live someone else’s.”

It’s NOT that simple

It’s natural to feel frustrated when you try to figure out what you want. Okay, should I list all the things I like or all that makes me happy?

Interestingly, most of us struggle with small things like ‘what to eat’ let alone major decisions in our lives. So, identifying wants and needs won’t be easy.

Bits of Advice like “Just Do It” or Brainstorm don’t always work!

You can’t just sit and wait for a miracle to happen thinking that’ll solve the problem. However ‘just do it’ or ‘start brainstorming’ only makes one feel panicked and forced. There are days when I am likely to jump blindly to conclusions – and this includes anything and everything.

Yes, I make emotional decisions for the reasons I don’t know. I have a strong tendency to follow instincts – and often I do make the right decisions. But sometimes, I’m not lucky.

Playing ‘everything is good’ isn’t the best idea, because you are most likely to silence yourself. When you ignore what you desire, you don’t realize you’re not happy.

Don’t Ignore the Signs

Loneliness, helplessness, and feeling low are signs you are ignoring your needs. Inferior confidence is a siren you’ve silenced your feelings for too long. It’s here that you have to decide. Don’t turn to others for guidance. Instead, look for answers within you.

Remember you are responsible for your happiness. And only you can find the answer to “what do you want.” Most importantly, you have to do this yourself. You can return to your why, over and over again. This will help you stay motivated and grounded through the rough patches.

Let’s Put that Balance to Work

You can never succeed if you are exhausted and can’t get your priorities right.

I can remember how difficult it was to show up at work. The place I loved had become my worst enemy. Every passing day was a struggle. If you’ve experienced a stressful period at work, you could relate to this feeling.

My to-do list was mounting and there was absolutely no appreciation from the management’s side. In fact, it was only unjust criticism. I was forced to feel incapable of rising to meet expectations. Soon I was sacrificing my personal time to keep up with my own goals and someone else’s ‘not so logical’ expectations.

There was a phase when I was struggling with ‘the professional syndrome.’ I couldn’t figure out what more should be done to come across as a professional employee. I wasn’t a procrastinator, but I was forced to feel like one. I tried everything to keep up with the rising unrealistic hopes and soon I found myself burned out.

No amount of work or meeting deadlines improved my situation. Unproductive thoughts took up most of my energy and I was working 6 days a week long after my regular shift which eventually prevented me from enjoying life.

What I didn’t realize was at a deeper level, my problem was the lack of ‘boundaries.’ Yes, I had been fooled to become a workaholic! Sadly, we overlook our personal boundaries to meet our professional performance indicators. Trouble begins when we push our boundaries and turn to the ruthless corporate world for approval whether in the form of appreciation or chasing someone else’s version of success. Each time I said yes to impossible deadlines when I really should have said No! And this perhaps was my biggest mistake.

Later I realized it’s not just important to set limits on spending money or having junk food. You must have boundaries to protect your sanity at work. Yes, your bosses, friends, and co-workers are important, but your peace of mind comes first.

There are two types of boundaries – internal and external. External boundaries are pretty clear which include setting work hours, and of course, personal space. That’s right. Your co-workers have no right to be nosey and pokey. Understanding internal boundaries, however, is tricky.

I had failed to set clear internal boundaries. In fact, I kept pushing myself to achieve unrealistic standards of excellence which were never achievable in the first place. I wasted time trying to explain myself to people who loved jumping to ‘premature’ conclusions. But thankfully, I took control of my life.

When I said goodbye to toxic people and situations.

One day I made a promise to myself. I will remain consistent with my goals and more importantly, will detach myself from worries, negativity and unrealistic pressure.

Whenever I received criticism at work, instead of looking at it as a sign of failure (which I was doing – remember professional syndrome I mentioned earlier), I acted more rationally. Are there any possible (hidden) opportunities of growth? Do I really need to get emotionally carried away? Am I respecting my boundaries?

Well, honestly defining internal boundaries wasn’t easy. Being a ‘highly sensitive’ person, I always took other people’s reactions way too seriously. I foolishly did everything possible to fix their problems as my own. The desire to meet deadlines was great, but it drained me to an extent where I could no longer function.

Figure out where limits need to be set.

Trying to keep up with fake success standards can lead you to compromise your boundaries to the point where your physical and emotional health is at risk. While pushing through the ‘burnout’ process personally, I learned a rule that served me well:

If you are not happy even after giving your 100%, it’s a sign that a boundary must be redefined. A strong feeling of hopelessness and constant stress is a sign you’ve probably let an issue go on for too long without addressing it.

If you want a good relationship with yourself, you need to practice kindness. Talk to yourself as you rewire your brain to set new emotional boundaries. Remember, putting yourself first will be new and uncomfortable, but remind yourself that it’s okay to preserve your emotional energy.

As long as you give your 100% at work and are dedicated, you’re doing a good job. Don’t try to please everyone and never feel sad, guilty or upset when you think about yourself.

Never weaken your boundaries

Every time we take on too much responsibility at work or fail to speak up when we should, we only put ourselves under pressure.

Ask yourself: What’s my responsibility in this situation?

While you can never control what your bosses and colleagues will think about you and how they will react, just deliver your best. Also, never let negative people suck your energy.

Last, always trust your gut. Your intuition – even though it sounds cheesy – is an important part of rational decision making. Learn how and when to set physical and emotional limits at work and respect them.