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Six Tips for Monday Morning and Beyond

I really don't like to write on self-improvement topics in general, but sometimes I learn specific techniques for changing my thoughts and habits, and for getting motivated -- ways that are more provable than the stuff that fills most books about such topics. I like these more "mechanical" methods, which can generally be tested easily by anyone. With that in mind, let's look at a way to get motivated when you are laying there looking at the alarm clock Monday morning, and then move on to a few ideas for making the rest of the week go well.

1. Alter Thoughts to Generate Energy

When you find it difficult to get motivated in the morning, try this trick. Just start thinking about of something you are looking forward to doing or experiencing. Do this as soon as you wake up. This makes it easier to get excited about the day, and therefore easier to get out of bed. If you can't think of anything in the day ahead, think of whatever future event you can that you will feel a bit excited about. You'll find that as little as a minute of thought in the right direction energizes your body and gives you the motivation to get out of bed and get going. If you find you are forgetting to do this, put a reminder on top of the alarm clock or somewhere else where you'll see it as soon as you open your eyes.

2. Make Problems Into Adventures

A problem is defined by our interior dialog about it, so if you think about some issue and find yourself using words like "too much" and "overwhelming" you are likely to feel overwhelmed. Instead you can try imagining how, in the near future, you’ll look back on the problem wand how you overcame it. See yourself telling the story as an adventure. Try this and you’ll find that it is far more motivating than worrying. The exercise will sometimes even suggest creative solutions.

3. Break Down Goals

We often think too big, and so feel intimidated into inaction. When your goals seem too difficult or even impossible, break them down into smaller steps, making each one something you can easily imagine yourself doing. It is easier act on and accomplish one simple step at a time. Make some of the steps fun if possible. For example, if you want to save enough money for retirement, their are simple steps you can take today and the next day. You could open a savings account, buy a book on investing, or make a form to track your savings. Write down many small steps that will carry you towards your goals. If buying a few gold coins sounds fun to you, add that step between the less exciting ones.

4. Praise People

To praise people when they do something right or good is nice, but it can also be very good for your own psychological motivations. Praise creates an atmosphere that not only helps the person praised feel better about himself, but it also subconsciously motivates you to do praiseworthy things. Look for an opportunity to praise someone for a job well done today.

5. Practice Listening

Being a good listener doesn’t necessarily come naturally. Sometimes you have to consciously develop certain habits. Keep quiet while others are speaking, and speak up only to ask relevant questions, so they can better explain whatever their point is. This practice will not only let you learn more (you already know what you have to say after all), but will help you get along better with people. People tend to like (and help) those who listen to them.

6. Develop Courage

What we call courage and cowardice are to some extent habits. We all feel fear, for example, but we habitually react to it in different ways. Fear is just an emotion, but "taking advice from your fears" is a problem. The more you do it, the more of a habit it becomes. Fortunately, the opposite is also true. You can start by doing anything today which you have delayed due to fear. Then continue to try to do what needs to be done when faced with any fear, large or small. Eventually you can start to replace the habit of retreat with the embracing of challenges, a habit that can change your life.

7. Purposefully Refocus

We all know that it can be very de-motivating to dwell on past mistakes. It can also be a hard habit to break. Part of our mind insists that we need to keep returning to our mistakes, justifying this with the pretense that we are going to learn more and more from this masochistic practice. The reality is that we learn only to stop taking risks that we need to take (where can you go in life without taking some calculated risks?). Learn what you can from a mistake. Take written notes even, if that will help. But limit this reflection time to a usefully-short period. Once that is done, choose to direct your mind and actions to something more productive every time those regrets pop up in your mind.

This purposeful refocusing works with our habit of complaining too. Complaining is a waste of energy. It's an obstacle to seeing what can be done and doing it. It sucks away your productive energy. If things can be different, think about how to change them instead of complaining. Watch yourself today, and at the first hint of a complaint, however subtle, immediately turn your thinking in a more productive direction.

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Monday Morning Tips