Twelve Tips for Motivation in 2009
Dan Richards*
February 3, 2009

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8. Reward yourself

Sometimes, internal motivation isn’t enough – and we need external incentives to see us through. It doesn’t have to be elaborate – something as simple as looking forward to a quiet dinner out on Friday night with your spouse as a reward for making those challenging phone calls and holding those tough meetings can make the difference in providing that extra bit of motivation. Another note to consider: Periodically taking a short vacation from work is always a good idea, but especially critical in tough times like these. Many advisors take the view that they can’t afford time off right now – when in reality now is when that break is needed the most. Even a four day weekend can make a big difference – if you don’t have a holiday scheduled in the next while, consider blocking off a break once a quarter. Not only can those breaks give you a much needed rest, but they can give you something to look forward to and help maintain motivation.
  1. Put strategies in place to boost your energy level

    Keeping your energy level up is always important, but is essential in times like these. We all know the ingredients to high energy.  Make this a priority – start by getting enough sleep and eating the healthiest foods possible. Moderate exercise to start the day has a big impact – even a brisk half hour walk can make a big difference. And don’t underestimate the impact of fresh air and sunshine on your energy level; yes, in many cities it’s colder and there’s less sun in winter, but a bracing walk around the block can still leave you energized, for the next while at least.

  2. Work on compartmentalizing your business and personal life

    After a tough, exhausting day, it’s easy to take work home.

    But if we do that we fail to get the rejuvenation that comes from an evening or weekend off.  We risk burn out and, perhaps most importantly, jeopardize relationships with our family.

    All the “helping professions” have learned this – doctors and nurses, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists. “Compartmentalizing” your day and leaving work at work is one of the keys to maintaining your effectiveness when you’re in the office.

  3. Work hard to stay positive

    A positive energy and mindset is as contagious as any flu – seek out people in your office who are positive and upbeat to share coffee or a sandwich at lunch.  And work hard to be positive yourself – some suggestions from Dr. Edward Jacobson, author of a new book on maintaining a positive mindset, include finding the opportunity to make at least one honest compliment twice a day (something he calls “filling peoples’ buckets”.)  He also suggests replacing trite greetings like “How was your weekend?” and “How are you doing” (which seldom evoke anything except the rote response “fine”) with more positive greetings like “What was the highlight of your weekend?” or “What’s been the best part of your day so far?” 

  4. And stay away from negative people

    Just as talking to positive people gives us energy and motivation, spending time with negative people drains it. We all know people who are perpetually down and mad at the world and suck the energy out of every situation. If you have a “woe is me, the world is ending” person in your office, my best advice is to stay clear of them.

One final tip: If you’re really down after a tough day, on the way home rent the funniest DVD you know and watch it – twice if necessary. Laughter is a proven remedy when we’re down in the dumps – and is way cheaper and less guilt inducing the next morning than that bottle of wine or box of chocolates.


* Dan Richards conducts programs to help advisors gain and retain clients and is an award winning faculty member in the MBA program at the University of Toronto. To see more of his written and video commentaries and to reach him, go to

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