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How to stay inspired and motivated at work, according to life coaches

Professional motivators share six strategies to help you get your head back in the game this week.
Image: Young woman sits with mug in home office
Life coaches swear by setting aside "me time" to disconnect from the day-to-day grind and find inspiration. Caiaimage/Sam Edwards / Getty Images/Caiaimage

Life coaching may sound like a like a pretty cushy job that comes with an average salary of about $61,900, and, often, the ability to build one’s own schedule. But the truth is that life coaching is a hands-on job, and they often playing pivotal roles of support in people’s professional lives. While they’re not mental health professionals, they still help people navigate through intense challenges and changes in their careers. It begs the question: While they're cheering on clients, how do they stay inspired for work each and every day? Their tips might just come in handy when we’re feeling less than motivated in our own jobs. Here are six ways they stay focused.

1. Set Boundaries — It Takes Practice

Most of the coaches we consulted said that while they do need inspirational pick-me-ups, they don’t tend to feel bogged down by their clients’ problems. This is because they’ve set firm boundaries.

“It's super important to set clear boundaries, both explicitly with your client and energetically with yourself,” says life coach Ryann Pitcavage. “A lot of coaches are empaths, meaning we have a tendency to feel and take on other people's ‘stuff.’ Coaches have to be mindful of how much 'weight' that isn't theirs they are holding. This involves some practices around creating and clearing energetic boundaries, cord cutting and remaining a present observer rather than getting trapped in the client's story.” Try to do the same with demanding co-workers.

Coaches have to be mindful of how much 'weight' that isn't theirs they are holding.

2. Schedule ‘Me Time’ Like You Would Time For a Client or Co-Worker

When our jobs get hectic, it can be challenging to make time for ourselves, or as Catherine Wood, the founder and executive life coach of Unbounded Potential says, “to fill our own cup first.” This is why we need to literally schedule daily appointments for self-care, even if it’s just some alone time.

“To fill my own cup as a life coach, I make self-care the foundational structure of my daily routine. I do this by blocking out time in my schedule between sessions with clients for things that restore and rejuvenate my own well-being. For example, I schedule in time — the same as I would for a client — to meditate, soak in the hot tub, exercise and have breaks where I get to be silent.”

Bravery coach Christiana Hill adds that sometimes she gets wiped out from her job, particularly because she’s an introvert doing pretty extroverted work.

“It's easy to want to give and give to others in work and in life, but sometimes saying ‘no’ or spending a little extra time on myself without fear of being selfish is exactly what helps the situation,” says Hill.

3. Get An Accountability Partner To Face Your Fears

Go figure, life coaches have fears they’re working through, too. Tiya Cunningham-Sumter, a life and relationship coach, recommends getting an accountability partner to ensure she doesn’t get in a rut.

“I tell these partners my big and scary goals for the sole purpose of them pushing me to take action,” says Cunningham-Sumter. “They are a group of women who will not let me break the promises I make to myself. They support my goals, ask me what's next and follow up on my progress. They'll ask, ‘How's the book coming along?’ Or, ‘Where are you at with the planning of your women's conference and is there anything you need me to do?’ They don't let me forget what I am capable of.”

4. Observe The Good Stuff Around You

When mentor and life coach Renee Jones is run down, she takes time to notice the lovely things around her, however small.

“The man who offers help to a lady on the train, the mother who takes time with her child, the ginormous tree, a view, a sunrise, photos of friends and family, music, a great quote, a wise book, a puppy: [the good stuff is] easy to see if you look for it,” says Jones.

5. Keep A Gratitude Journal

We often turn to journaling when we want to make a list of what we need to do, or even just to vent; but try keeping one just for jotting down the things you appreciate.

“Every day I write down five things I'm grateful for,” says Francesca Hogi, a dating and life coach. “They might be related to something that happened with a client, or something in my own personal life or just something cool I saw or experienced.”

6. Read Works By Those You Admire

There’s a reason life coaches are known for dishing out inspirational quotes; they tend to read a lot of inspirational material.

“I read works by people I admire like my teacher Martha Beck and the work of people like Brene' Brown,” says coach Vikki Nicometo. “I guess you could say I feed my own soul a near-constant diet of helpful, uplifting material that reminds me of the power we all have within us.”

Hogi adds that she turns to the works of fellow coaches such as Tony Robbins, Marie Forleo and Paul C. Brunson for guidance, while life coach Dr. Stacie CC Graham recommends TED Talks along with Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast.

7. Nothing Is More Rewarding Than Witnessing a Breakthrough

The most substantial source of inspiration for life coaches, typically comes from the very person who has come to them for inspiration: the client.

“The more I coach, the more I am blown away by the amazing resilience and wisdom we humans carry within us,” say Nicometo. “When my clients have an "a-ha" moment and I get the privilege of witnessing their breakthrough, for me, it is like the most powerful drug I can imagine.” Take a page from life coaches and use your co-workers successes and triumphs as inspiration when your well runs dry.

But it’s not all nature walks and emotional epiphanies. Sometimes life coaches just need to kick back and relax. Cynthia Chauvin, a life coach and hypnotherapist notes, “If all else fails, a couple of shots of vodka works every time.” When you're off the clock, of course.

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