Keeping motivated through tough times (Week 9-10)

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Your focus area for weeks 9 and 10 is to keep focused on the things you can control and don’t worry about the stuff you can’t control.

Spend 30-40 minutes creating your plan now, then follow it for the next 2 weeks.


Reading time: 5 minutes
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Control the controllables

What to do

Spend your time and energy on things that you can control. Know what you can influence or gain more control over and make deliberate choices about whether and how you’ll be trying to do that. Avoid worrying about things outside your control – it’s a waste of time, emotion and energy. Practice this for 2 weeks as you perfect the art of controlling the controllables!

Why do it

Feeling as in control as possible is important for your motivation. If this is the factor that most affects your motivation, you’ll find that working to increase your control will really pay dividends for you. Even if it’s not as important as confidence or connectedness, you’ll benefit from working on this. Focusing on the controllables will:

  • Increase your sense of control and motivation
  • Reduce your frustration and wasting emotional energy
  • Help make sure you’re putting time and effort into stuff that matters within your control
  • Increase your productivity and focus
  • Set a great high performance tone and behaviours for others

How to do it

There are 3 steps to take with this. Read these through, look at the example and then create your own plan.

1) Your focus right now

Understand where you’re spending your time and energy on right now. What’s the stuff you’re thinking about and worrying about – what’s your emotional energy being spent on? Get a sense of which of those things you can control, and which you can’t control. Check in with exactly how much time and energy you’re spending on these things.

2) Plan the changes!

You’ve got a sense of what you’re spending your time and energy on and what’s in and out of your control. You’re now in a great place to make some changes to what you’re thinking and doing so you’re focusing more on stuff you can control, not worrying about things you can’t and making choices about what you’re going to try to increase your influence or control on.

3) Practice the skill

You know what’s happening and what to do about it. The last part is make sure you keep doing those things over the next 2 weeks and have build a routine to control the controllables.

Example plan

You’re nearly ready to start controlling the controllables! But to help you along the way, we’ve completed an example, using our example of keeping motivated through restructure and change. Read through it, get some ideas from it and then create your own plan.

1) Your focus right now

Of the things that are taking up my thoughts and energy, what’s:
In my control Totally out of my control Stuff I could influence
The new marketing strategy

My future role after the restructure

The support I provide Tim

How prepared we are for the customer pitch

The detail provided in the restructure outline

IT difficulties delaying the project roll-out

What the senior management think of the team and my performance



How the team respond to the changes ahead

How united the departments heads are over the coming months
My relationship with Louise

2) Plan the changes!

What can I do to:
Spend less time on stuff outside my control?

  • Be patient with the restructure – the information will come. Remind myself daily of this and not to worry about it
  • Accept the IT problems. Adjust the timeline and anticipate any others. Explain the problem and delay to stakeholders and keep them informed.
  • Simply not worry about what others think. There’s nothing I can do about it other than do the best job I can do, get support of those around me and be a good leader for my team.
  • Talk to my wife about this if it’s bothering me – she’s great at reminding me that it’s outside my control.
Increase my control over things I can influence – if I feel it’s worth the time and effort?

  • Team – I can do everything possible to support the team over the next 2 weeks. Giving them clear, accurate info and showing that I’m there for them is the best way is how I can help them respond well
  • I can take the lead in making sure we’re ready as department heads – but will need others to step up too – I need to prioritise my team and establishing my future role. Work with Andy on this.
  • Have coffee with Louise to start the process of rebuilding trust. Will give some time to this but not a great deal – have other priorities.
Spend more time and energy on controllables – so I’m focusing on stuff that matters and getting better results quicker?

  • Marketing strategy/plan – this is one project that I’m leading on, that I have control over, that is important, and that’s likely to be something I’m leading in my new role. Spend more time on this to ensure we get it right and that I do a great job here.
  • More time on considering my future role. Talk to my wife and friends (Jane in particular) over the weekend. Create a picture of my “ideal role” with the info I’ve got. Do this before I meet Tim.
  • Be more active supporting Tim – this will pay dividends for me in getting into the role I want and ensuring Tim’s support. Tim’s a key person for me, we have a good relationship and I want to ensure I’m there for him. Connect with him every day over the next 2 weeks

3) Practice the skill

Over the next 2 weeks, I’m going to keep my sense of control as high as possible by:

  • Doing what I’ve said I’ll do in no 2 – get those things in my diary now!
  • Check in every morning using no 1 and 2 to make sure I’m staying focused on the controllables
  • Create a daily plan/schedule for me to follow to help me spend more time on the controllables and not get sidetracked onto stuff outside my control!

Coaching tips

In tough and changing times, there’s likely to be lots outside your control. Staying focused on what you do know, what you can control and what you know is coming is really important. Doing this every day will help you keep focused and in control on what you can control in challenging conditions.

I'm ready to start!

   Ok, it’s now time to create your own.
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