Sanjeev Kotnala: Staying motivated even when you don’t feel like it

17 Dec,2020

By Sanjeev Kotnala


Success is relative, and as our self-expectations differ, we have different ways to measure it and to keep ourselves motivated. However much we may be successful, have the drive, passion and hunger for more, at times we do feel demotivated. In fact, this desire to create new benchmarks and reach new milestones is a boon as well as a curse.


Given that Covid-19 has impacted the world with economic insecurities and damaged templates of business success, staying self-motivated is a task. Don’t worry, there is enough help and solid advice in your spam folders. The unsolicited emails asking you to act. The shout-outs telling you everything is possible. Enough communication nudging to reimagine your dreams. It is all there.


I filtered through such mails and curated some advice from people in the business of motivation. Hopefully, it will help curate an experience that will keep you motivated. The way to test it out is to actually get in the field and act on them.


Like so many other businesses, my independent brand and marketing advisory, coaching, mentoring and ideating is also impacted by the economic situation. Like most of us, I am also in the game for more challenging assignments to engage and contribute. Some of this advice helped me. Hopefully, some may help you.


Be curious and act with understanding.

Be clear about your actions and the levers pulling you to take the actions. Whatever you may be doing, understand the reason behind it. Understand the possible outcomes, including success and failure. Be ready and willing to accept the favourable and not-so-favourable roll of dice. Keep nudging yourself to ask all the vital questions.


In ‘The subtle art of not giving a F#$K’, author Mark Manson puts it very simply: What is the pain you are willing to buy now for future success? What are you ready to sacrifice to get to your goal? When you know, what you are doing and why are you doing it, doing it becomes that easier, involving and engaging. Then there is no lack of motivation.


Think of Problems as Lego Toys.

More significant problems are made of multiple smaller interlocked problems. Break down a problem into small subsets. It then becomes possible and manageable. And it adds celebratory milestones to keep you moving. However, remember not to drill it down to a level that you miss the real picture of why you are doing what you are doing.


Problems Are Lock With Multiple Keys.

There is not a solution but multiple possible solutions to any given business problem. The paths and the keys could be different, but the ultimate goal remains the same. You need to find your kind of solution to the problem, and it is okay if it is not ‘the solution’ because there is no ‘The Solution’.


Believing In Self And Possibilities.

There is saying, if you think you can do something, you will be able to do that. If you believe it is impossible, then you are accepting a failure or creating the ground for an excuse at a later date. When you believe the process and the possibilities along with your own potential to achieve it, you are more likely to achieve it. Knowing why you are doing it and visualising it like a Lego toy helps in enhancing the belief.


Perfection Is A Myth And Failure Is A Reality.

Nothing is perfect, and no one is perfect. It also says, no solution, path or process is perfect. By nature, perfection is work-in-progress, and failure is a part of life. Being alive and aware of the possibilities and taking failure or rejection as a given reality of life helps you from getting demotivated. Even with the best of us, with luck backing us, things do go wrong. They will go wrong. Even the past successful templates will require new tweaks to prevent failure. Remember between the two flagpoles of life, the birth and the death, everything else is merely probabilistic.


As the problems are made of multiple problems, it is always like a chessboard. There are multiple options at every stage, and hence you must build in flexibility. It enhances the degree of freedom in operations. The result, you find more ways and means to achieve the same objective. More flexibility enhances the chance of success.


Invest In Skill Enhancement And Learning.

Learn as much as possible about the field you are working in. Scour the net and read at least three articles every day. Ensure you read a score plus of books on the subject. Keep yourself updated on the changes that are happening in the ecosystem. Anticipate changes and challenges. But, more than anything else, get to a positive environment that believes in possibilities, that tells you yes it is possible to achieve, that motivates you.


Compete With Self, Compete With Others.

Here I remember one of my batchmates at IIMA. He was not from a big city. He had a modest middle-income background. But where he scored was in his attitude. I respect him, when he says: ‘I don’t worry about my rank and position in the class. Still, I worry, if every day in the Institute I can enhance my version. If there is a better Bihari every day’. And I respect him more when I know he practises what he says. That is the way to compete with yourself.


But with business environment or even social, personal spaces, you don’t live and work in a cocoon. There are always more people running after the same objective, consumers, revenues, choices, territories. Competition like a failure is a part of life, and in addition to competing with self, you need to compete with others.


When you compete with others, remember the bell curve. Differentiation and differentiators exist. So, don’t let someone’s success demotivate you. In fact, look at it differently, If someone can do anything, you can do it and maybe do it better than them.


Use the competition as a motivator as a challenge to think through and apply what we have shared above.


Stop Procrastinating.

Time is the only luxury we do not have. So, stop deliberating for far too long. It is good to think through your acts and decisions. But it is better to arrive at a decision, fully believe in it and implement it wholeheartedly.


When you act, you succeed, or you fail, you learn, and you are better equipped for the next moment.


Follow PaRAM. Be Eklavya.

Self-learning and self-evaluation are a critical way to remain engaged and motivated. So, after each milestone, Pause for a moment and introspect. Reflect on what all has happened. Absorb the learnings and move forward without old baggage.


Past is just a story, where the character, process, acts and results are frozen. You can do nothing about it. All you can do is to decide how the new chapter of the story called life will be written.


All Of Us Are Good. All Of Us Are Average.

Yes, we all are ordinary people with extraordinary possibilities in our subject of choice and interest. And there are people with exceptional skills, do not envy them, just appreciate them. They have for the five minutes of perfection, successful and being famous, invested years of their lives and rigorously sacrificed other desires.


Don’t worry, if you are not good at everything or not good at what you do today. Please, invest time and energies in finding what you really want to do and where can you be best at. And go chase the dream.


Practice Does Not Make One Perfect, Perfect Practice Does.

Simple, do everything with an ‘All-In’ attitude. Give everything you do the 100% and more of yourself. Enjoy and celebrate the successes and love to encounter failures and learn from them too.


God Is There To Help If You Are Here To Act.

So, if you wanted God to help you win a lottery, then you will have to at least buy the ticket. Go ahead, buy as many tickets.


The Final Advice.

No one can motivate or demotivate you. Only you who can do that. As you decide your action, reaction and inaction. You take every cal. You are responsible for the choices and decisions you make in your life. So go ahead and get ahead in life.



Sanjeev Kotnala is a senior brand marketing advisor and business strategist. He writes on MxMIndia every Wednesday. His views here are personal.











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