Via GQ: Five ways to improve your Monday motivation
Monday motivation is a thing. Really. Studies have shown that motivation soars at the start of the week, a phenomenon known as “the fresh start effect”. We’re more likely to start a diet or a new exercise regime on a Monday, with many of us seeing it as a chance to leave our old, flawed selves behind. But what happens if Monday rolls around and you’re not feeling it? Juliet Hodges, a behaviour change advisor for Bupa UK, shares her tips on staying motivated in tricky situations.
Let’s go back to basics. What is motivation and how does it help us achieve our goals? There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic.
Extrinsic motivation is doing something purely for an external outcome, such as preparing for an interview to get the job. Intrinsic motivation is when you do something because you enjoy it or find it interesting, like re-reading your favourite book. Most of the activities we choose to do are a mixture of the two. For example, most of us get some enjoyment out of our work, but probably wouldn’t keep doing it without the pay cheque at the end of the month.
It’s a common misperception that motivation (intrinsic or extrinsic) is necessary to make something happen, so people spend time procrastinating, waiting for inspiration to strike. You’re actually better off forcing yourself to just do something, however small. Any sort of reward can increase your dopamine levels and give you the feeling of pleasure. By ticking small things off your to-do list, for example, you will give your brain a dopamine boost, which helps set you up for the bigger tasks you need to achieve.
Some days it’s much harder to get going than others, so here’s some advice to improve your motivation if…
Monday motivation if you dislike your boss
Having a negative relationship with your boss is bound to affect your motivation and productivity in the workplace. One method that could help to improve your relationship is practicing empathy (as difficult as that may be sometimes). It’s likely that they’re under a lot of pressure themselves – managing multiple people and projects – possibly with a difficult boss of their own. Understanding more about why they act the way they do could help you to take it less personally and even improve your relationship if you can find ways to communicate better or make their life easier.
Monday motivation if you got turned down for a promotion
Rejection always hurts, but this is a great opportunity to learn where you’re going wrong and how you can secure that promotion next time. Ask your manager (or whoever made the decision) what exactly influenced their choice. You can then turn this feedback, either by yourself or by working with them, into a step-by-step plan for what you need to do going forward. Importantly, make sure each individual step is achievable in the short-term, such as sending someone an email or chairing a meeting. This will help you to feel like you’re well on your way after not too long, restoring your motivation and your faith in yourself.
Monday motivation if you’re dealing with grief
Your motivation is likely to take a blow when you’re grieving, and it’s important to accept that. One of the best things you can do for yourself is learn how to practice self-compassion. We’re often our own worst critics, and can be brutal on ourselves when we don’t meet our own high expectations. This is especially true of men, who are far less likely to seek support for mental health issues and try to shoulder the burden alone. Everyone deals with grief differently, but treating yourself with kindness when you’re experiencing loss instead of beating yourself up for not doing enough will be much better for your motivation in the long term.
Monday motivation if you’re already wishing it was the weekend
When the weekend seems too far away, make it feel closer by adding midweek treats. One technique you can use to increase your motivation for tasks you don’t enjoy is to combine them with things you do. See if you can work rewards into your week – buy your favourite coffee before going into a dull meeting or have dinner with friends only if you’ve finished that report by a certain time.
Monday motivation if you’re hungover
The positive properties of exercise – enhancing your mood and boosting your energy – can help to make you feel better, but only if you’re up to it. Make sure you’re clean, showered and well-fed. But if all else fails, just coast it out and start again the day after.