Sid Madge, author of the Meee in a Minute books, shares some tips for working dads on getting your mojo back now home school is (hopefully) behind us
It has been an extraordinary twelve months, and there is still a while to go before we get back to something close to the days before we realised home schooling was a thing. It is no wonder that it can feel more challenging than it used to be to access our mojo or internal motivation. But so much of what we feel is actually a decision, albeit often an unconscious one.
Ancient wisdom indicated as much, and these early ideas—going back to Greek and Roman philosophy—have been confirmed by modern thinkers. A great deal of the science around positive psychology and happiness has roots in ancient philosophy.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which is largely drawn from the teaching of Socrates, considers the origin of mental disorder, including a lack of motivation or absence of mojo, to lie not in brain chemistry but in our irrational beliefs. Roman Stoic philosopher Epictetus said, “Men are not disturbed by things, but by their opinions about them.”
I’ve written three Meee in a Minute books on ‘micro-moments’ for life, work and family. Micro-moments offer us a quick, practical way to change our opinions about things and, as a result, change how we feel, the outcome and even our life.
One of the founders of CBT, Albert Ellis created his ABC model which can be a useful guide to regaining control over thoughts and feelings so we can better access our best self – including oodles of mojo.
The next time something happens, or you feel stressed by some news or situation, take a moment to notice what you’ve made it mean; what we make something mean is not the only meaning on offer. If our patience stumbles at the sixteenth are we nearly there yet (other kiddie tropes are available), does that mean we are bad parents, or does it mean that we are merely tired? Practise your ABCs.
When we are in a slump or finding it hard to get motivated, the tendency is to pursue an all-or-nothing approach. If we have had a bit too much of the kids’ lockdown baking and we need to get in shape, we might decide to run 10K straight out the blocks or perhaps to dedicate a fortnight’s exercise to sprinting as fast as we can. This strategy is the worst thing we can do. Instead, start small and aim to be 1% better tomorrow than you are today. This approach is much more viable and is much more likely to produce the desired effect, as long as we remain consistent.
In Michael Singer’s book The Untethered Soul, he asks: Do you want to be happy? Yes or No? If it’s Yes, then what do you need to change to be happy?
Motivation is tough to access when we are miserable so take a moment to really think about and answer that question. Some folk revel in being miserable.But if you are not one of them, decide to be happy and do what you need to do to make space for happiness. If you do, your motivation will also increase.
There is nothing more powerful than a changed mind.
If you are struggling to find your mojo and you’ve checked down the back of the couch and it’s definitely not there, then a good way to track it down is to work out what it’s not. Like so much about our life, the outcome is massively influenced by our state of mind. Take a moment to turn your lack of motivation on its head. Instead of wondering what’s happened or why you suddenly feel so flat and unenthusiastic, go in the other direction. Make a list of the things that DO NOT motivate you. If it’s easier, consider what DOES NOT make you happy. The two are inextricably linked.
Sometimes it helps to focus on what we know we don’t want and won’t do as a way to gain clarity about how to regain our mojo.
One of the most powerful mind tricks that I employ each day is the gratitude ritual. I’m not perfect at it and I don’t always remember to do it, but the idea is to start and end the day with three things that I’m grateful for.
Consider tacking the process onto an existing habit so you don’t forget. For example, as you are brushing your teeth night and morning, think of three things you are grateful for in your life. Try to come up with different things rather than the same few each time. This isn’t a shopping list, really connect to that gratitude as an emotion. Remember, it’s not happy people who are grateful, but grateful people who are happy.
You might have noticed by now that all the ‘micro-moment’ suggestions are focused on changing your meaning or choosing a better frame or belief through which to view the circumstances of your life. Things are really challenging for a lot of people right now and that is true all over the world. But we need to stay motivated and positive. Making these little changes to your thinking can make a huge difference. Each one is like a tiny grain of sand that helps make up the beach and coastline of opportunity, hope and being. It’s those tiny little changes that add up to the changes we want to see and allow us greater and more consistent access to our mojo.
Sid Madge is founder of Meee (My Education Employment Enterprise) which draws on the best creativity and thinking from the worlds of branding, psychology, neuroscience, education and sociology, to help people achieve extraordinary lives. He is also author of the ‘Meee in Minute’ series of books which each offer 60 ways to change your life, work-, or family-life in 60 seconds.