Motivation Techniques #1: Get in the Zone

Have you ever been in the zone? You know, that place mentally and physically where you think everything is going perfectly for you. You feel like you can lift double the weight, talk to anyone, and write for hours on end. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, you’re just in the zone and the world is your oyster. There is a motivation technique to trick yourself into the zone. It is simple but it takes a positive outlook and sheer will. If you can bring those two things to the table, being extraordinary is much closer than you think.

Like it or not, we writers typically have some other skills that happen to earn us our primary income. We also have hobbies like exercising and improvisational comedy that take up a good deal of our time. We don’t even always refer to ourselves as writers, or we say “I’m a writer slash actor slash waiter slash…” which makes us feel diluted. It is perfectly natural to be and do a lot of different things at once. But if you plan to excel at any particular one, it can be a great help to you to excel in all of them.

Many people I know complain about their jobs and their requirements getting in the way of what they are truly good at. They will slack off with their employment, absentmindedly annoying their co-workers and customers while surrounding themselves with a little bubble of excuses. “Sorry, I’m just not feeling it today,” “I’m not on my A game,” “I’m thinking about something else.” Chances are these justifications are nothing more than a declaration that they would rather be somewhere else. And when they finally get to that place, to that opportunity to do what they want…they complain about work. Or they don’t give it their all.

If your work is relatively simple or repetitive, and you’ve been there for at least a few months, you probably have the tools to succeed there. For example, in the barista world, to provide unparalleled customer service you simply drop your co-worker conversations the moment customers walk in the door, you greet them as if they’re your friends, you concentrate on their mood and you ask them about themselves. Throw in the ability to make a good drink, and you’re an all-star. Do a few cocktail-esque cup flips, and you are a memorable hall of famer. And if you are genuinely attempting to do your job well, something happens. It starts to feel good.

Even the most jaded can feel a slight sense of satisfaction from being skilled at their job. It doesn’t matter if it’s something that you don’t like. If you do it well, it will be a lot less draining than begrudgingly pushing forward. At the end of the day you’ll feel extremely more uplifted than the drained feeling you usually had. You will return home and be motivated to do more things well.

Once you’ve started excelling at your job, it will leak into your hobbies. You can find ways to be extraordinary in your workout routine or your improv comedy team. You start to feel even better! You begin to feel on your game all day long. When you sit down to write, of course you do a great job, because you’re in the zone!

Excelling at your job takes time. Most people are just trying to get through the day without a breakdown. They are wishing they could be somewhere else and it’s tough not to let that influence you. But if you break through the peer pressure of mediocrity, you can even change their minds about how enjoyable work can be. Start small and work your way up. Get better, then great, then exceptional at one task and then work on other activities until you have bolstered up everything you do at work. Soon enough, work will feel like a burst of energy instead of a punch in the gut.

Using this motivation technique, I’ve had times where I was in the zone for weeks on end. It can be a truly amazing feeling. Start trying it today and see where it gets you. Even if you don’t get all the way to “the zone” enjoying work more will help you to feel better about yourself and it will lead you in the right direction. Happy writing!

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