Business Miscellaneous

How to Stay Motivated in Challenging Times

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For almost a year now, our society has been experiencing challenges in the form of social contact restrictions, remote work, and financial and personal hardship. This can be quite challenging for many of us, especially in terms of self-motivation. Many of my coaching clients currently reach out to me to increase their motivation to work and remain resilient and positive.

Here are my top 5 strategies for self-motivation that I think are particularly applicable:

1. Set goals

Goal setting is an important tool to increase motivation. By setting goals for the future, we usually shift our attention from the here and now to the future and feel excited about the goal we’re trying to achieve.

Goals can be set as

  • Professional goals
  • Financial goals
  • Social goals in the sense of improving friendships and relationships
  • Personal development goals such as improving one’s motivational skills
  • Recreational goals such as planning a vacation
  • Health-related goals

Goals can be set in these areas of life and divided into short-, medium-, and long-term goals. Often, medium- and long-term goals can change over time, which is fine. But having them set up helps greatly to increase motivation during difficult times.

2. Clearly define goals

When you look at failed goal-setting attempts, it’s often due to a lack of definition. The more clearly defined the goals are, the higher the chance of achieving them. 

The SMART model is a common goal setting tool that helps you define and redefine your set goals.

  • S stands for “specific.” You are basically checking how specific your goals are.
  • M is for “measurable.” Are your goals measurable, such as “20% salary increase”?
  • A is for “attractiveness.” This is important to assure that you will enjoy and be passionate about achieving your goal.
  • R is for “realistic”, which is important to check if your goal can be realistically achieved
  • T stands for ‘time-bound’, such as “a 10-day vacation in July”.

If you have clearly defined your goals, your motivation will immediately increase!

3. Time management

Working remotely these days can mean freedom and flexibility. But it can also require becoming your own best self-manager. Without the set structure in the office, employees need to know their most important time management tools to stay motivated:

– Schedules with breaks and buffers. Often a daily, weekly and monthly schedule helps to plan ahead. I personally mix analog and digital schedules to get the best results.

– Track down time-wasters: time-wasters can be huge when working from home: Social media, e-mail overflow, too many digital meetings and lack of boundary setting between work and family are just a few.

– Setting boundaries is very important to reduce stress, increase motivation and keep the workload reasonable. A gentle and polite “no” with a reason and solution can make a big difference!

– Avoid procrastination: breaking a project into many small steps and focusing on each step can help you overcome any form of procrastination and increase your motivation!

– Prioritize. I always ask myself at the beginning of a workday: what are my most important and urgent tasks and which of the less important ones can I schedule?

4. Cardio Workout

I’m a trial runner myself and when I’m feeling stressed or unmotivated, 10 miles of trail running here in Colorado usually change the rest of my day! I always feel relieved and pretty happy afterwards.  Many studies have proven that endorphin and serotonin production in our body during cardio is an important aspect of feeling instantly motivated and stress-free.

5. Stress Management

The connection between motivation and stress management is huge. How are you going to feel motivated when you’re almost burned out, right?  There are many strategies to manage your stress.

I’ve already mentioned workout, time management, and especially setting boundaries to reduce stress. But working on increasing your own resilience usually seems to be the most effective.

I usually look at the seven-pillar model of resilience with my clients. Each of these seven pillars can be improved, and believe me, if you can manage to be at least okay with all seven, you will have a hard time being stressed and have a very easy time being motivated:

  1. Solution Focus: How quickly do you focus on the solution instead of the problem?
  2. Planning for the future: How many future plans and goals do you have?
  3. Acceptance of the unchangeable: How well can you accept major circumstances?
  4. Self-regulation techniques: Do you have tools to regulate motivation and stress?
  5. Networking: How good a networker are you?
  6. Self-responsibility: How well have you mastered the art of taking responsibility for your own happiness and challenges?
  7. Realistic Optimism: How much optimism do you have?

I would scale all seven resilience aspects from 0 to 10. 0 means low and 10 perfect. Anything below 5 requires your attention and can be adjusted to become resilient, stress-free and motivated!

With these five motivational aspects on hand, challenging times usually turn into a motivated time with a prosperous outlook. 

Which of these five motivational aspects resonates most with you to really get going today?

About the author


Michael Wigge

Award-winning business motivational speaker, Michael Wigge, specializes in documenting incredible stories about achieving victory over challenges. How to Travel the World for Free, How to Barter for Paradise (where he turned an apple into a Hawaiian dream home through his skills in bartering for bigger, better things), and How to Travel Europe Blindfolded are just three of his seven travel shows. He recently shared his amazing success stories on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (alongside co-guest Katy Perry) and also on the Today show. His TV programs and books have been broadcast and published internationally.
Based on his incredible experiences overcoming challenges, Wigge began performing motivational speaking engagements and started CMW Coaching & Speaking in the US and in Germany. His corporate seminars support employees and leadership toward improving their motivation, stress management, time management, change management and resilience.