Every single one of us have faced that moment when we realize that we’ve lost that special power, drive or energy that is synonymous with effectiveness and success. It is an almost magical force that propels us forward. And when we are missing it – there is a flatness to our state of being that creeps in. In short: we’ve lost our mojo.
As universal as the feeling of being in the zone when your mojo is on and you are on top of everything, so is the sensation that you’ve lost it and need to get it back.
I’ve had ups and downs over the last several months as I started my own company and have been working on various projects. But losing mojo does not just apply to entrepreneurs and business owners. Whether a relationship has ended, you were passed over for a promotion, or the world and some guy named Murphy has decided that what can go wrong, will go wrong, there are many forces that can cause you to lose your mojo.
So, how can you get your mojo back?
I spent some time looking for those answers not too long ago, and collected a wide variety of suggestions. One thing to take into account as you review the list below is that there is no pill or formula that will work for everyone or work every time. What’s more, you may find that some days it will not take a great deal of effort to get your mojo back, while other days you need to expel a great deal of effort.
The important thing to remember as you try ideas from this list (which is by no means exhaustive or complete) is to do your best to quiet your mind and remove yourself from panic before you start. If you were thrown into the ocean and panic – flailing your arms around and screaming – you will quickly drown. So, why would you do the same thing on dry land and drown in flood of your own emotions? Peace is the perfect starting point to get your mojo back.
1. Meditate And Sleep – Recharge Your Batteries
How do you start to find peace and get your mojo back? The first thing I’ve discovered is that if I have lost my mojo it is typically because I am run-down or tired. Getting run-down or not getting enough sleep can lower your immune system, reduce blood flow and oxygen to your muscles and brain, and diminish your overall mood. Fatigue is a mojo killer! Though sometimes we feel better after just one night of rest and sleep, getting two to three days worth will really help return your body to a higher energy level. Meditation also helps. Here are some great beginner steps to meditation.
2. Wake Up Early And Get Moving (No Matter How Hard It Is)
I’ve known many people who do not consider themselves “morning people” and prefer to sleep in. The truth is – everyone’s body is fully capable of waking up early. We have conditioned ourselves through habits to associate greater pleasure with laying in bed and daydreaming then with getting up and moving. What makes getting up early hard for so many people is that we are battling our own minds and the routines we have created. Part of getting your mojo back will mean creating new habits and not succumbing to the old ones. It takes time. But if you start waking up early and getting active in the morning, it will help improve your thinking, productivity and health, and be a great step towards getting your mojo back.
I have to admit – crawling out of bed at 5 am, immersing my body in cold water, and swimming up and down a pool for an hour or more was not the most motivational line of thinking to enter my brain when it came time to go exercise. Instead I thought about how important swimming was going to be for my heart and my body, and how much I enjoyed the feeling of pushing through a difficult set. The more I did it, the more I began to get excited to get the pool to swim, and afterwards, get into my post-swimming routine. The same was true for running. I was never a runner. At first, I ran down to the end of my street and walked the rest of my route. I felt kind of pathetic at first. But the truth is – no one else cares how far I am running but me. So, I decided to run a little farther each day. Now I run at least 3 miles a day, and I am working to push it to 4. The impact? I now use exercise as my time to clear my head, come up with new ideas, challenge myself and ultimately feel stronger and better. I look forward to it! What’s more, since June I’ve lost over 25 lbs and I am stronger than at any time in at least 15 years! Granted, not everyone will get the same benefits from exercise as I have received. But even a light workout in the morning where you get your heart-rate up high will help get your brain and body into a better state.
4. Get Organized
When I say “get organized” I don’t mean run out to Staples and buy calendars, or download time management apps for your phone, or drop $500 at the Container Store. Just simply lay out your schedule for the day, as well as some goals, a creative project to start and other ‘to dos’ that you can quickly tackle. Having a blueprint and creating some structure to your day will enable you to accomplish more. When we can see our accomplishments that helps create positive feelings of success. And success is tied to our mojo.
5. Mojo Does Not Mix With Bullshit, Pitty Or Sorrow
Mojo is absolutely not compatible with bullshit, pitty or sorrow. If those are the emotions you have flowing through your body, you will not be able to get your mojo back. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Have some empathy, Mike! I just [INSERT CHALLENGE OR PAINFUL STORY HERE].” You may find it hard to believe, but I hear you loud and clear, and I am empathetic. Anyone who knows me personally is well aware that I have experienced quite a few painful moments and seemingly insurmountable challenges over my life time. But that still does not change the fact that you will not be able to get your mojo back if your mind and soul are stuck in a depressed state. The way to start to break out of your funk is to think about all the good in your life, starting with the fact that you are alive. Think about everything that you enjoy and everyone, and start to embrace the best aspects of your life.
6. Visualize Success
It may seem corny to some, but visualizing yourself being successful can be a great way to generate some mojo. I’ve used visualization before exercising as well as while I am running and swimming. I have used it in preparation for events I’ve spoken at, as well as for things that have not yet taken place that I am striving to achieve. While no moment will turn out exactly as we planned, visualizing success can help generate some of the energy that makes up our mojo.
7. Outline Your Strengths, Short-Term And Long-Term Goals
I love reading Tony Robbins and other experts in personal achievement because they really know their stuff. One of the most consistent exercises these experts recommend that you can do to get your mojo back is outline what your strengths are as a person. What do you do really well in life? What professional skills do you have? Etc. Then outline some short-term and long-term goals. I did this at the end of last year, and it really gave me a great boost. In fact, whenever I feel like I need to get my mojo back, I return to that list and update it. I also check off things I’ve accomplished. My old government affairs mentor once told me not to send her emails because, “Policy is paper.” And she was right. We can send a million documents electronically to people, but we react differently to things when they are printed off and in front of us. They are more tangible and more akin to action.
8. Connect With People
Connecting with people is an amazing way to get your mojo back. For starters, picking up the phone or talking with someone in person brings a whole new set of emotions to you. You learn from talking with other people, laugh and open your mind to new ideas and experiences that are not your own. Interacting with others can be a quick way to elevate mood, establish a new relationship or bond, or even make a life-changing connection that jump-starts your mojo. I’ve had this experience too just connecting with people on LinkedIn in groups I am involved in. In one case, a quick online conversation around a topic of mutual interest turned into a Google hangout discussion via video. Before I knew it – a wonderful new friendship was born.
9. Be Gracious, Kind And Giving
Obviously, we should always strive to be gracious, kind and giving. However, when you’ve lost your mojo and you’re trying to get it back – focusing on generosity and kindness can really create a strong and positive sense of being. Remember, the highest state of generosity and kindness is to give without expecting anything in return (and to do good acts anonymously whenever possible).
10. Address Your Stress
Stress is apart of our lives whether we like it or not. And there is a good stress and bad stress. Which one do you have? Chances are – if you’ve lost your mojo – you’ve got some bad stress. Bad stress is the feeling that you are both overwhelmed and not working towards anything you believe in or think will succeed. Stress can be reduced by asking others to take burdens off your shoulders. It also can be reduced through a massage, sex, a hug or some other physical action where your body is able to release tension. If you cannot address your stress on your own (many of us think we can handle it alone), then you will need to force yourself to let someone else in to help you. You will have to fight your habit of going it alone, and try and create a new habit.
11. Do Something Fun And/Or Adventurous
Fun and adventure comes in many forms, but they are essential ingredients in my view to getting your mojo back. Think about all the things you enjoy doing. Did you love model trains as a kid? Did you enjoy going on love roller-coasters, white-water rafting or hunting for antiques? Maybe you miss bar-crawling with friends or always wanted to try it? Who knows? Make a list of those things you enjoyed and set out to do something to shake up your life a bit.
12. Remove Distraction
This is the most simple step: remove distraction. Identify your main priorities and focus in on those, and cut out, temporarily, all those things that are really distracting you from achieving your best or sucking away your good mojo. This can lead to painful and difficult decisions, but in our complex lives distractions can be real mojo killers.
13. Get Some Sunlight
Sunlight is vital to your body. It helps with digestion, food absorption, maintain your insulin balance, and generates physical and mental energy. There are many studies that link sunlight to the promotion of stronger bones and heart, as well as improving your immunity. Getting a healthy dose of sun does not mean you need to head for Miami Beach (though I’d hardly blame you), but it does mean you need to get outdoors and absorb some sunlight each and every day. As a New Englander (now currently living in the Mid-Atlantic) I know that we have fewer days of good sunlight. But if you are trying to get your mojo back – finding the time and best way to get a little sun can do a lot of for state of mind and your body.
14. Improve Your Diet
Eating poorly is another mojo killer. I was in the need of serious mojo a few months ago, and decided to stop eating out. I cut out soda, fast-food and other things. It took time. I admit – I cheated every once in a while at the start. But the more I ate very lean meat, vegetables and started eating better foods each day, the more energy I got. Also, my desire to pull into a fast-food drive through diminished to the point where now I do not crave it at all. Now, as a caveat, I am not saying you give up hamburgers and start eating salads right away. I did not do that either. In fact, if you try that as a way to get your mojo back, you will fail because such dramatic change rarely is sustainable. Start small and find simple ways to improve how you eat, and gradually phase things in. You will find a phased approach will generate better short-term and long-term results, and help you get your mojo back.
15. Lastly… Show Up!!!
Woody Allen once said, “80 percent of success is showing up.” How many times have each of us headed out to do something, only to debate a thousand times in our minds whether it was worth the time? I remember driving with my girlfriend into Washington, DC to see a band she liked. She was on the fence, because she had so much work. She literally pulled off the highway and then got back on, only to pull off the highway again and get back on. In the end, we got to concert and she had a great time. My daughter as well has been on the fence about joining clubs or doing other things, only to show up and have a great experience. If you REALLY want to get your mojo back – show up! Do not back down from things, or let a particular mood dictate your actions. While showing up is not a guarantee of success, it is an essential component.[This post originally appeared in the Social Web Tactics blog on 10/16/2013]
Do you have steps that you take to get your mojo back? Share them below!
A few years ago, I wrote a popular blog post entitled “15 Ways To Get Your Mojo Back.”
While that post has generated over 30,000 unique views on the Social Web Tactics website, and thousands more on LinkedIn and other websites, and has been a great resource for me and others to turn to, I want to write more about motivation and the general theme of how we can find that inner energy that propels us forward, and encourages us to do more and be more.
I have entitled this post “How To Get Motivated and Restore Your Energy and Enthusiasm, Part 1,” because I plan on writing other segments on this same topic, as well as more specific posts.
In fact, over the coming weeks, I will write more about how to become more motivated, as well as how to break bad habits and form good ones, how to ideate or brainstorm ideas, and the notion of how we all can seize each day for greater success.
I am doing this for a few different reasons. For starters, the research necessary to write about these topics is going to open new techniques and knowledge for me, so that I can grow. I also believe that by researching, and creating a written road-map, I will reinforce new principles and be more likely to make them part of my life. And lastly, by putting new skills out there – and sharing them – it will give you and other people the opportunity to learn and grow as well.
So, how can we get motivated?
AWARENESS OF HOW YOU ARE THINKING
One of the biggest obstacles to motivation and personal energy is the feeling of being overwhelmed, or thinking that you have too many things to do, and not enough time to accomplish everything. Many of us have a tendency to over complicate things in our lives, which can be a self-defeating mindset. By thinking that things are not possible, we start down a path of building negative energy in our minds.
Some people will say there is nothing wrong with being “realistic” or “practical” or “keeping your feet on the ground.” All of which is true.
But lost in the maze of the buzzwords and phrases is the fact that success can be practical and realistic, and there is nothing practical about thinking that there is too much work, or thinking things won’t get accomplished on-time or at all.
George Carlin, the late, great comedian, shared a wonderful bit of insight during one of his HBO stand-up performances that has stuck with me for many years. He said that we think in terms of language. And the quality of our thoughts is only as good as the quality of our language.
So, when we use negative words to describe situations, we change from positive to negative thoughts. Once our thinking becomes more negative, our mood and energy immediately goes from positive and high, to down and low.
What this comes down to is having awareness of you are of how you are thinking.
Bruce Schneider, who wrote the book “Energy Leadership,” defines consciousness as “your level of self-awareness,” as it relates to your true self. It sounds philosophical to talk about “awareness”, but put simply, Schneider’s belief is that everyone has the ability to achieve anything they want to achieve. However, problems arise and we become limited when we accept limiting views or definitions of ourselves. He writes that our level of self-awareness, the quality of how we think about ourselves and the world around us determines the energy we have and what we are able to accomplish. The more we believe we are not capable, the lower our energy, and the less we will get done.
Makes sense, right?
So, how does this translate into a motivational tip?
MAKE SUCCESS LESS COMPLEX
As I wrote above, we often look at tasks we must accomplish or our lives in general, and over-complicate the moment. We think there is too much work. Or we allow ourselves to become overwhelmed by work, family, friends, and life as a whole. As a result, we immediately start to lose our positive energy, and our motivation to move forward.
I called this a mindset, because that is all it really is – a way of thinking; a perspective. And since it is only a thought in your mind, it can be changed.
Start by making success less complex.
Get out some paper, and make a list of some small, and very specific goals.
And by small, I mean it can be very small.
- At work, write down 3 simple things you want to get done. But keep them very simple. You want the task to be something you can complete in a few seconds. Stay away from things that you can over-complicate, such as writing an email. Focus instead on things that will have some positive impact: Get a glass of water, file 3 documents, and find inspiring motivational quotes.
- At home or working remotely, do the same thing – write down 3 simple things you want to get done. You can do the same things listed above, or you can do something else, such as: quickly wash a glass or dish, empty your trash, or clean your glasses.
You may think of this as “setting the bar low.” Others use the expression “KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid” (or Keep It Smart and Simple). I would recommend you avoid those phrases or characterizations, because they are going to be counter-productive to raising your energy level and restoring your motivation.
I prefer to think of it as the first step in energy restoration.
When you think about it – which would you prefer to do? “Lower The Bar” or “Restore My Energy” or “Get My Mojo Back”?
Remember, this about taking positive steps to change our mindset, restore energy, and get motivated, so you can tackle bigger and more important tasks.
The next step is to cross off the three things you have done, and add three more things. They can be at the same level, too. In fact, when you were going to get a glass of water, you may have thought of something else that is simple that you need to do. Maybe you need to print a document? Or return a document to someone? Maybe you need to ask someone a question? Or maybe there is a person you have been meaning to say “hello” to or something similar? All of those things can go on a list, and be accomplished quickly. After you have done this a few times, you could have potentially accomplished a dozen or more tasks in 15 or 20 minutes. Then you are ready to increase the complexity of your tasks.
So, let’s recap:
- Be aware of how you are thinking and feeling. You can accomplish great things, but if you are feeling down – acknowledge how you are feeling, and recognize that you need a boost.
- Stay away from negative phrases or characterizations about your circumstances or the moment. They are only going to fuel your bad feelings, and make you feel worse.
- Take steps to making the moment less complex by listing very simple tasks to accomplish. Call this the time to restore your energy or get your mojo back.
- Reward yourself or celebrate accomplishing the simple tasks.
- Identify the next level of tasks you need to complete, and repeat the process.
Motivating teenagers can seem like a battle we are never going to win as parents.
We yell, punish, remove privileges and even offer incentive for (read: bribe) our kids all in an effort to get them to change course and become motivated about high school learning. We do this because we want our kids to learn and we know that getting good grades in high school is critical to college admissions.
But how can we get our kids to see the importance of high school learning for their futures as opposed to what we want for them? Below are some thoughts from my own personal experience as a single-parent to a teenage girl.
The first thing we need to do is realize that while we found high school to be a challenging social and academic experience filled with pressure and awkward moments, it is an even more stressful and competitive environment for our teenagers today. Teens feel a significant amount of pressure to get good grades brought on by their peers (in person and through social media) and their parents.
The American Psychological Association’s Stress in America survey found that, on average, teens reported their stress levels were 5.8 on a 10-point scale. Adults reported their stress at 5.1. Approximately a third of teens (31 percent) felt overwhelmed by school and other pressures with 36 percent saying that stress increased their fatigue and caused them to miss meals.
The second step is to realize that our teenagers do not always lack for motivation. Adults and most parents readily associate teenagers with laziness. As someone born into the tail end of Generation X, I remember the term “slacker generation” was often used to describe us as teenagers. However, the truth of the matter is that teens are very motivated. They are just not necessarily motivated in the ways/areas we want them to be. Therefore, the challenge is not how to get our kids motivated, but rather how do we help them channel or direct their energy to important tasks? How do we help them make the right connections? And, finally, how do we help them reduce stress levels along the way?
Connect College To High School Learning
One approach is to connect the positive excitement of going to college to high school learning. As parents, we can go about this in clever ways that help to boost enthusiasm and independence within our kids, and encourage them to set the right goals.
For example, starting in your son’s or daughter’s freshman and sophomore years in high school, ask them what kinds of subjects they find interesting and what they like to do. Keep in mind, their interests are likely to change over time – so do not panic if your child does not want to become a prize winning nuclear physicist or a Supreme Court Justice.
Once you have some clear insight into their interests, find some colleges and universities that have academic programs that meet their interests. Then request information from those schools in your child’s name.
Why? Teenagers want to be more independent. By registering them with some colleges, it will not be long before they start to receive direct correspondence from these schools with information about student life, activities and standards necessary for admission. That a college or university has reached out to them will be a positive motivator to start thinking about what they need to do academically and what extracurricular activities they may want to focus on.
My own daughter was very excited to start receiving information from colleges. After a tough freshman year, she received her first letters and packets over the summer. She decided then to attack her sophomore year, and has made completing homework and studying a top priority. What’s more, she is not satisfied with everything she is learning and has sought-out additional academic resources to improve her mastery of subjects and help build a stronger academic portfolio.
Find Ways To Reduce Stress
The other key to better channeling the energy of our teens to high school learning is to reduce stress. As mentioned above, our teens are often more stressed out than we are as adults. Think about your most stressful day and realize that your son or daughter is probably more stressed than you are. It may be hard to imagine, but it is very likely.
Talk with your teen about their day and listen to what they have to tell you. If their day sounds intense and their schedules are slammed, look to reduce the amount of tasks or activities they have. Though we often parrot our parents who lectured us about walking miles to school in snow or having a long list of household chores, we have to accept that times are different. We may need to put less pressure on our kids outside of school to help them focus on their more immediate responsibilities.
Motivating our teens to concentrate on their high school learning is not an easy task. But when we listen to our kids, we have a better chance of finding creative ways to help them apply their energy and reduce their stress to give them every opportunity for success.
If you are a parent to a teenager, you know the struggles of figuring out how to motivate teenagers in the right ways. Be it in academics, sports or household responsibilities, creating a sense of urgency, priority and general motivation can feel like a constant, mind-numbing battle.
One of the challenges we face as parents is that communicating with teenagers is very different from how we address younger children. In fact, learning how to communicate and listen is one of the mostchallenging transitions parents need to make. After all, we spend approximately 10 years teaching, guiding and talking to our kids.
Through all the difficulties there are steps parents can take to help our teens become more responsive, and help them to start maturing into responsible adults. Here are seven tips for how to motivate teenagers:
- Sit down and ask your teenager what they enjoy. Sometimes we can make assumptions about our kids based on what we hear and see from day to day. However, the best approach is to hear it directly from them. Teenagers want to have more control over decisions about their lives, and it is important we give that to them. Once you know what interests your teenager, the next step is to facilitate it. Give them opportunities to experience the things they enjoy and are good at. And do not worry if their first professional aspirations do not involve following in your footsteps or becoming an investment banker.
- Induce motivation by showing real-life examples of what commitment and hard work achieves. As mentioned above, this starts with listening to what your son or daughter is interested in. It culminates with you finding and introducing your child to professionals in careers that follow similar paths to their interests. Sharing stories in the news or video interviews of people who have followed a similar pursuit or interest will help connect the dots for your teenager. I also mentioned in a previous post (See Motivating Teens: How To Connect College To High School Learning) that signing your child up for college mailing lists can also have a positive impact and induce motivation. The key is to connect your teenager’s interest with potential role models, mentors or opportunities. Give them something to shoot for and let them go after it.
- Recognize your teenager’s accomplishments and limit your critical responses. Remember, there is still a sharp learning curve for teens. And while many need direction, teenagers frequently want to learn it for themselves too. Building motivation is a delicate balance. You want to cultivate a positive attitude and desire, you do not want to kill it before it’s started.
- Another way to motivate your teenager is to set goals and encourage them to complete tasks. Even when finishing a task is uncomfortable or unpleasant, you need to push your teen to get it done. Teens, like adults, build habits. Habits are hardwired into our brains from the moment we start moving around and learning. The more bad habits we build and the longer we build them, the harder it is to change. An effective motivational tool is to build-in incentives for performance when setting goals. Just be sure to give thought into any contract or incentive-based agreement you make. Remember, teens, like adults, start to make neural associations with pleasure and pain. They put off writing research papers for the same reason many of us put off filing our taxes. What pushes us to start tasks is the realization that the pain of putting it off any longer outweighs the actual task itself. So, while trying to capitalize on a reward, remember to make the alternative as unpalatable as possible.
- The spark to the motivational fire within us often comes following success, and can sometimes occur after taking a risk. First, try to position your teenager for small successes that can serve to build confidence and excitement. Accomplishing something new, however simple, builds a positive foundation. Alternatively, you also should encourage your teen to take risks. Risk-taking can bring out a wide range of emotions and reactions in our kids—just like it does in each of us. One result is that taking risks helps to eliminate the fear we associate with trying something completely out of our comfort zone.
- Do not make excuses for a lack of motivation. We all know how overloaded and stressed our teenagers are in school and life in general. Their schedules can be tight. Our kids get pulled in a lot of directions. Do not use that excuse for a lack of commitment.
- Lastly, be sure to give your teenager attention. Talk with them. Listen to them. Be present for them. One of the most overlooked ways we can inspire motivation in our kids is to give them our time and engage them in their lives.
If you have other tips or recommendations, please share them by submitting a comment below.