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Faith WoodIt’s officially summer! School is done. The kids are excited about sprinklers, beaches and long bike rides with friends. Your colleagues are booking time off and your work productivity might be suffering a bit.

With the birds chirping and a lawn chair calling your name, it can be really challenging to muster up the motivation to tackle big projects. You might even find yourself lacking the enthusiasm to make a change you thought you really wanted. Time outside seems like way more fun than staring at that computer or sitting through another long meeting.

I get it. There are plenty of summer distractions to fuel our tendency to procrastinate in the face of meaningful goals.

It takes effort to be successful and most of us would rather coast (contemplate) our way into a better life (or a better income), especially during the summer months.

However, until we get up off our butts and start doing, nothing powerful or awe-inspiring is going to happen. And although taking the summer months off might seem like a perfect idea right now, it isn’t likely to get you any closer to where you want to be. Unless your goal is to be stress-free.

Whether you like it or not, how you think affects how you feel. And how you feel affects your decisions, actions and performances.

Most of us view motivation as some force outside ourselves that will somehow magically empower our productivity. But truthfully, for you to do anything, you must start by digging into grit and determination, then tackle that which you’re actively avoiding. Even if it’s during reduced summer hours.

So if you’re feeling hijacked by the warm sunshine outside your window, start to refocus with these steps:

• Decide what it is you really need to accomplish today/this week/this month.

People will not do something unless they have a compelling enough reason to do so. So identify how good it will feel to get that off your plate. Even plan a reward for yourself when it’s completed. This creates an energy that has an amazing effect on making things happen.

• Decide that it’s possible to complete a portion of the task today.

• Focus your thoughts and energy towards your motivating objective.

• Take consistent action toward making it happen.

• Keep acting until it happens.

We will always get better results by doing something rather than doing nothing.

Good performances don’t happen by accident – they’re a result of positive and tactical thinking. Don’t leave your thoughts to chance – train them.

You might consider building a positive trigger for yourself. Think how you would like to feel in specific situations and come up with a set of powerful key words and phrases (and/or visual icons) that generate those feelings. Then rehearse them until they become habit.

I get up early and tackle the most undesirable activities early. By the time lunch approaches, I’ve had a super-productive morning. This leaves me time in the afternoon for reading a book in the sun – my reward for staying the course.

Still can’t find your motivation to do this?

Ask yourself: What are the benefits of not achieving my task or change? What are the benefits of the situation I’m in?

The answers to these questions may seem strange or even a bit embarrassing. But once you’ve identified them, you can begin to build new strategies for getting to the outcomes you really want.

There are plenty of hidden benefits to almost any situation. By finding out what they are, you might just discover other ways to overcome your listlessness.

Our mind is always active – it needs to have something to focus on. If we don’t deliberately direct its focus to the kinds of thoughts we want to have, then it’s just as likely to succumb to other distractions.

It’s not that we aren’t staying busy, it’s just that we aren’t busy doing anything constructive.

Troy Media columnist Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications. 

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