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Today, the day after Labor Day in the U.S., could possibly be the most dreaded and awful day of the year. Just the thought of going back to work today probably made you groan – I know it made me groan, and I worked yesterday. But alas, “summer fun” is over and it’s time to get back to the grind.

It’s Time to Get Moving

We dread today for a reason – it marks the end of summer slacking and vacations, and it marks the beginning of the mad-dash to meet your annual milestones and prove your worth. The pressure is back on, if it ever left, and you have four months to deliver at the highest levels.

If you’re anything like me though, there isn’t a “game on” switch for work. Being disengaged one day and then being fully immersed in outcomes the next day, isn’t easy. Motivation doesn’t come because the world is telling us to “GET BACK TO WORK!”

So perhaps we need a little kick-start or perspective, hmm?

What if I told you that what you do and accomplish during the next four months will have a greater halo effect on how your annual performance is perceived, than the previous eight months combined?

What if I told you that now is the best time for you to prove your value, increase your knowledge base, and elevate your demand?

Or perhaps, if I told you that your future earnings will most likely be based on what happens now?

All of the above is true. Sadly, all of your hard work from the beginning of the year will not matter much, if at all, if you don’t deliver and step-up your game now… which is tied to your compensation for many of you, and your overall “worth” at a company.

The Switch Still Isn’t On

You mean my “truth-bombs” aren’t enough to get you motivated, and have instead reminded you why you’re so unhappy at work? That’s cool – I am right there with you. Until we are ready to turn the switch, let’s start making small gains to getting back into the groove.

1. Remember to reset and reestablish boundaries.

For many, the summer has been filled with fewer meetings, demands, urgent situations, and annoying fire drills. But today has lit a fire under everyone’s butts – so you have to be firm with reestablishing your own boundaries and expectations.

Before automatically accepting meeting requests, make sure that you are needed at the meeting, will be able to add value and/or be the decision maker, and that it is properly scheduled time-wise for what needs to be discussed. Feel free to ask the planner for an agenda and your responsibilities for the meeting to make it as efficient as possible.

2. Start with what you know you can get done.

It’s the same age-old advice that all efficiency experts tell us – if you are able to start knocking the little things off your to-do list, the momentum will flow into bigger projects. So knock those darn little buggers off the list. You know, all of those annoying things that will take you 30 minutes to complete you just haven’t “felt” like doing it. Now is the time to just do them already.

3. Create a new set of milestones to get you to the end.

Whenever I’m resistant to something, I need to create a countdown of sorts to get me there. I did it when I wanted to quit my job and I do it for every big goal I have. You have your map in front of you – your career map and what’s expected of you from your job in the form of your annual goals. Break down the goals into mini-milestones, then schedule those into your calendar.

With one client, she needed to create better relationships with people in her office – she just never spent time around her coworkers which came across as being aloof. So we talked about walking around the office, doing pop-ins, catching up after weekends, and scheduling lunches. All easy things, but they were the first things to fall off her daily list. Until I had her plan them in her calendar as recurring meetings or reminders.

Use the same type of reminder/event to help you achieve the smaller milestones. Give yourself deadlines and stick to them. Momentum breeds momentum.

4. Stop the pressure gap.

Seriously, people freak out this week – it’s like an angry swarm of bees in offices everywhere. Just relax people. It is a busier time, there is more urgency to get everything done before year-end, but don’t let yourself get pulled into the chaos.

I don’t know about you, but I am not able to get motivated when others are breathing down my neck, screaming at me, demanding the impossible, or acting as a distraction. Take a look around you – I’ll wait for you to examine your surroundings… are you back? See their energy? That buzz? Let them freak out while you smile, put your head down, and start small.

When you get your groove back, you can go back into fourth or fifth gear. But for now, it’s ok to be coasting through first and second gears until you feel the spark again. Don’t force it – so it’s on vacation for a few more days? Eh, there are worse things that could happen.