We landed and rolled up to the jetway, reaching another airport after another flight. I stepped off the plane and breathed my usual thank you for a safe, on-time arrival.
Walking down the concourse with a co-worker, he commented: “I’m tired.” We had both made a lot of business trips lately, but I felt energized, not weary. It helped that I was working on several programs in which I was fully engaged, but there was more to it. There was a purpose to what I was working on, and despite frustrations, they presented a stimulating challenge. How could I capture that extra oomph the next time I was slogging through a slump? I wanted to find out.
As a manager or an individual contributor, what makes the difference between days you feel vim and vigor versus the days you don’t? It’s a game of body and brain. For your body to be in great physical shape, the usual inventory must be checked — a healthy diet and weight, exercise and adequate rest, practiced in a regular rhythm. But how do you keep your brain in tip-top condition, including your aptitude and attitude? How do you embed emotional and mental energy into your everyday existence to stay motivated? Who’s in charge? You and your brain are driving the game.
How you control your thoughts and perspective make a colossal contribution to how inspired and peppy you are. You are what you think, which means you have to ponder the positive, push out the pessimism and give yourself a cerebral boost in the process.
As we face daily challenges, staying enthusiastic can be difficult, but keeping a robust point of view can revitalize you. To take a fresh turn on that, I revisited an article I came across at entrepreneur.com awhile ago — Jayson Demers’ “50 Thought Motivators.” Here are my top 20 picks from Demers’ list, with my input for pursuing, preserving and empowering a pumped-up outlook.
1. This is why I can. Can there be a better way to start? Instead of telling yourself why you can’t do something, tell yourself the reasons you can.
2. There will always be challenges. Don’t expect every day to be frustration-free, and you’ll be delighted when things go well. Your resolve will be continually tested — take a deep breath and forge ahead.
3. There’s no perfect time. Procrastinating is a waste of energy. There is no perfect moment, so get going.
4. There’s no perfect plan. Plan, yes. Count on it being perfect, no. Fixing flaws often leads to fabulous findings.
5. Everybody starts somewhere. No one is born an instant success. We all have to start somewhere, and usually it’s toward the bottom.
6. One step at a time. Small steps make an overwhelming task seem not so tough to handle. Like walking the proverbial mile, a monumental task gets shorter with every step.
7. It can only get better. When endeavors begin with difficulty, remember that things will get easier.
8. Failure is temporary. It’s also necessary. Don’t wallow. Fail fast and move on while making improvements.
9. Mistakes are learning opportunities. You’re going to make mistakes, and mistakes can be painful. Learn from them and do better on the next round.
10. If it were easy, everyone would do it. The stuff worth doing is never a slam dunk, which is why you need to tackle it.
11. Everything has to be earned. Don’t expect success to be delivered on a silver platter. You must earn it through hard work.
12. Discipline feels better than regret. It may be tough, but we already said it wouldn’t be easy. Discipline and exertion provide more satisfaction than regretting you didn’t bother.
13. Hard work is its own reward. It’s gratifying to work hard and see results. Always give it your best shot.
14. I can learn whatever I need to know. Extraordinary knowledge is as close as a mouse click. Embrace and immerse yourself in whatever you must learn.
15. Feelings are the product of thoughts. How you think controls how you feel. Overcome fear and uncertainty by controlling your thoughts and actions, while keeping an attitude of gratitude.
16. I am whomever I want to be. You truly can be whomever you want with persistence and hard work. Decide whom you’ll be by the effort you make.
17. Trying and failing is better than doing nothing. This is eternally true and marches alongside another motivator: I can’t win unless I try.
18. My life is a product of my decisions. Dedicate yourself to making the best decisions. Like the turn of a kaleidoscope, each choice affects what happens next.
19. Once I get started, it will be easier. I feel this one in my gut. We all have duties we detest; get started, and you’ll feel motivated. You may also learn something in the process. I usually do.
20. I’ll reward myself when I’m done. Decide what you enjoy and dangle it at the finish line. Small rewards along the way can be cheerleaders.
With energy, enthusiasm and self- encouragement in the equation, passion and commitment are often close behind. Not to mention a side benefit: confidence. What should you do when anxiety and confusion start creeping in? Get some input, because information invites liberation. It’s a great way to avoid obsessing over what you assume, don’t know or can’t control.
Turn to a colleague, friend or family member, and use their advice along with the list here to loosen your mental logjam and jumpstart your engine. We all have days when vexations vie for our time, but don’t let it bring you down. Pick a few of these inspirations, and put them into production to propel. Ready? Energize!
Mary Elston has spent more than 20 years in management in the transportation, consulting and technology industries. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and author of the book “Master Your Middle Management Universe, How to Succeed with Moga Moga Management Using 3 Easy Steps.” firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue.