In today’s episode I respond to a listener question about to to find motivation at work in the lead up to Christmas. How can we manage increased pressures at the same time of the year as our energy being low? How can we take control of our own performance regardless of what is happening in the environment? It is not always easy but it is possible. In this episode I am going to share two powerful and challenging ideas that can make this time of year more successful than ever.
Two Powerful Strategies For Constant Performance
Well, hey, everybody. Jonathan Doyle with you once again. Welcome friends to The Daily Podcast. Great to have you with me wherever you are in the world. Great to be just sharing a little bit of time with you. I hope I can bring you some value, as always. I say so many times that often all we need is just one good idea that’s going to bump us in a new direction. You know what interests me at the moment is that how many of us and how many of the people that I kind of talk to and sort of share their problems with, how many people just get stuck in thinking a particular way. And I’m really fascinated by this idea because so many of our problems just come from believing or thinking one particular thing.
Most of us will have one significantly limiting belief in life. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes we know what it is. But I’m fascinated by just this concept, this possibility, of just deciding to think differently. Sounds so easy to say it, doesn’t it? That we can be believing one thing, thinking one thing, and then in a short space of time think another. So just stay with me over the next few months because I’m going to be working more and more on this idea that, really, we can spend years thinking we need some kind of elaborate system to transform things, but sooner or later it comes down just to a very simple idea. Today, I’m going to give you a couple of quotes in the course of this short podcast from Marcus Aurelius, the famous Roman Emperor, who was kind of one of the great proponents and communicators of the stoic philosophical system.
And just to sort of start us off, he says this, “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts. The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” I’m coming to believe this more and more. I think people criticize this idea. They think, well, that’s just magical, happy, thinking and life’s not like that. Well, Marcus Aurelius is one of the greatest minds of the ancient world and he seems to think that it’s that simple. My increasing experience of life is coming to the same kind of conclusion. As many of you know, I’ve recently been through this really bad accident and by personality, I am depressive, believe it or not. I mean, not depressive but melancholic. My natural introverted nature is to drift towards some forms of negative thinking.
And I found myself even this morning. I used to love having a long shower. Like a lot of you, you get your best ideas in the shower, you get really good insights. That was always a great part of my day. And since the injury, a shower has turned into this kind of one and a half hour sort of Magnum Opus, this huge process, and it’s only the last two to three days that I’ve been able to finally have a shower without all the protective casts and everything on. And I find myself sometimes getting out of there just beaten up and sore. And I noticed my mind, it just starts to raise these thoughts. These thoughts are like, what if your hands don’t recover fully? What if you can’t ever get back to what you were? They’re just thoughts. I mean, I don’t know what’s going to happen at this point. Maybe they’ll never get back to that. Maybe there’ll be as good as ever. Who knows? We don’t know that yet.
But, you see, my mind is already choosing particular thoughts and I noticed this, that those thoughts begin to take me in a particular direction. So, as Marcus Aurelius says, “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” So you’ve got to be paying attention to those. Look it now, let’s get into the meat of this. Two things I want to share with you. A really cool quote I heard yesterday, I was actually at church and I heard the guy there just said this really cool quote. I mean, I’ve sort of heard something similar before, but he just says, “If you lose your why, you lose your way.” I like that. “If you lose your why, you lose your way.” It’s just so true. It’s like if we lose the kind of fundamental understanding of why we’re here and what we’re here to do and what is significant and important for us, then we begin to lose our way in life.
So I wasn’t planning to build a whole podcast out of that quote, but it’s worth remembering that if we’re not connected to our why, to our fundamental, this is who I am, this is what significant, this is where I’m heading, this is why I do the work, this is why I value people, this is why I try and make a contribution, if we don’t know that why, we progressively lose our way. All right? So I’m a fair way into the podcast now before even getting onto the topic I wanted to share with you, so let’s do that. As you know, I love listener questions, so please, if you ever have a question, if there’s an area of your life that you feel stuck in, please email me. Just send me an email, jonathandoyle.co , where you can find me. Of course, everywhere else, Instagram,jonathandoyle47, and Facebook at The Daily Podcast with Jonathan Doyle.
So just reach out to me there, but I want to talk to you about a really cool question that I got. I think it’s very relevant depending on when you’re hearing this. We’re leading up into Christmas and the question I got was a really good one. It was kind of around, what do you do when your motivation begins to run out at this time of the year in your work context? So you know how often you get to the end of the year, you can be tired from a long year? Your mind, again, there’s the mind kicking in sort of saying, “Well, I’ve worked hard and I’m tired,” and your brain starts talking to you and your motivation begins to slump. But at the same time, you’ve got a lot of stuff happening, right? You’ve got a lot of deadlines often and things have to get finished before the break. So the question is kind of how do you maintain motivation with all those factors? How do you maintain motivation when people start to get short tempered at work, they get stressed, there’s so much happening. How do you maintain motivation?
Well, I’ve got a couple of thoughts on this. The first big thing I want us to understand, and this is not easy to say or for anyone to hear, is that we have to get to the point in life as quickly as possible where external events cannot dictate our internal states. One more time. External events must not dictate our internal states. So if you think about how this question’s framed about the work context around Christmas is there’s these external factors happening and then they are sort of really affecting this internally and then we behave differently. Now I know that we’re humans. I’m not going to pretend that we are not impacted or affected by our environment, but we always are what we call responsible, which means of course response able, we are able to make a response. If we’re not in control, then we’re not free.
Now, I know some of you are listening going, “Jonathan, this isn’t how the world works.” No, it isn’t how the world works for most people, but some people really get to a point where they go, “You know what? I actually can choose my response regardless of the external circumstance.” And one of the great ways to get an insight into this is I have three very young children. Sometimes my young children are challenging. This morning before I came to the studio, it’s getting towards the end of the school year and their motivation to get out the door’s a little low, and they can be somewhat, I’m not sure quite the right word, but they can be quite creative in how they manage their morning routines and chores, and we had to get on top of that.
So I can definitely say there were times when I would let their behavior or their choices really let me get fired up or wound up until I began to realize increasingly, I’m the adult, I have to choose my response in the environment. So I want to extrapolate that back to the work context. We’ve got to get to the place in life where we make a decision about who we are, what our value set is, what our interior character set needs to be, and we just make a decision. We just go, “This is how I do life. This is what I value. I’m going to work hard. I’m going to be positive with the people around me. I’m going to keep doing the right things because they’re the right things. I’m just going to keep doing it because that’s the right thing to do.” And that builds character. So this is a character message. So I get that it’s challenging. I get that it can be exhausting, but if you are listening to this kind of podcast, it’s because you’re the kind of person that wants to hold yourself to a higher standard.
So that’s just how it has to be. It’s just that we have to go, “You know what? I know people are stressing me out. I know there’s this pressure. I know I’m human, but I’m going to make the very best of this that I possibly can and I’m going to contribute right to the end of the year.” And when you do that, you become someone. Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, was always huge on this. It was, how do you become courageous? He said, “Well, you do courageous things.” I mean, for Aristotle, you became what you did. So if you stay diligent to the end of the work year, you become a diligent person, if you stay positive when everybody else around you is complaining and you say positive things and you choose positive actions and you become a positive person. So this isn’t new, this is two and a half thousand years of wisdom. This is what the ancient Greeks understood, that in the character world, we become what we do. We become not what we say or what we post on Instagram, we actually become what we do frequently.
So that’s the first piece on this, is you’ve just got to make a firm decision that I’m just going to be this kind of person, I’m going to get it done, I’m going to stay positive, and I’m going to enjoy the break when the break comes. That’s the first part. No easy there, no shortcuts, it’s just the reality of it. Now, the second thing is, as this stress builds up in the intensity and complexity at the end of the year, I also want to really suggest that you should double down on aspects of self care. Any more stressful time in life, anytime in life when there’s just more stress and more stuff happening, then that’s the time you actually have to just be more committed to doing things that you actually enjoy. I often have this conversation with people. I say, “What do you do for joy? What do you do for fun? What do you do for self care?”
And so many people have no answer, and I have about five or six answers to that for myself. So, as you come into this back end of the year, then you’ve got to go and do something that gives you some form of restoration. It could be massage, it could be going for a bike ride, it could be going for a walk. And I know what you’re thinking right now. You’re going, “Jonathan, it’s Christmas. It’s busier than ever. How do I find an hour to do this?” And you’re all seeing from guys like Tony Robbins is, “If you didn’t have an hour, you don’t have a life.” If you don’t have one hour to go and do something, then something is much bigger wrong. You’ve just got to go, “You know what? I’m going to do my best right through to the end of the year. To do that, I need to do the things that actually give me a little bit of life.”
So maybe you’ve got to get up an hour earlier. Maybe you’ve got to make time to go and hang out with some friends. Maybe you’ve got to go for a meal, see a movie, really great book, go for a walk in a rainforest, whatever. But these are, for me, the two things that’ll get you through to the end of the year in style. Number one, work on the character ethic, work on the character ethos, work on the firm decision that I’m not going to be conditioned by my environment. And the second one is to so double down, triple down, into self care. Now I got this wrong last year. I actually worked really hard up to the end of Christmas, not just in the business and all the stuff that I do but also in the entire getting the house ready and the family and all that stuff, and I got really sick sort of the days around Christmas. Got this crazy throat infection because I hadn’t backed off, I hadn’t rested, I hadn’t done anything to kind of just get myself to the right place.
So, friends, self care, character ethos. The last thing I want to give you on this character, I think, is another quote, I said I’d give you two for Marcus Aurelius, is this one. He said, “You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this and you will find strength.” One more time. “You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this and you will find strength.” I got this wrong for many years. I just sort of thought that my thoughts were just real and they were accurate and I realize now that we’re actually in control of what we think. As hard as that is for many of us to hear, we’ve got to start to control that internal dialogue. All right, friends. That’s it. You know where to find me. Instagram,jonathandoyle47, Facebook at The Daily Podcast with Jonathan Doyle. The website, jonathandoyle.co .
Make sure you’ve subscribed. Make sure you’re sharing this with people. I hope it’s a blessing to you. It’s a bit longer than usual, but there was a fair bit of stuff we needed to cover there today. God bless you, friends. My name’s Jonathan Doyle. This has been The Daily Podcast and I’m going to have another message for you tomorrow.