What is motivation? When we look at the dictionary, it is defined as the reasoning behind our actions and behaviour. However, that does not give us a clear picture of what motivation truly is. What does motivation look like? What does motivation feel like?  And most importantly, how do we stay motivated

In these times of uncertainty, it is no surprise that motivation has hit an all-time low. Daniel Pink outlines three key areas for motivation: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. With COVID-19 in town, it instantly forced us to reinvent the motivation formulahow to create autonomy, mastery, and purpose in a remote world. As a result, we are now just trying to survive rather than excel, so motivation took a backseat. 

As we shared in The Formula to Staying Motivated, we discussed the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. While extrinsic motivators are beyond our control, we do have control over our intrinsic motivators, and there is one intrinsic motivator that is the ultimate key in helping you stay motivated – your emotional intelligence. 

Using EQ to Stay Motivated 

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your emotions, which in return will help you in all aspects of your life. Using the EQ-i 2.0 model developed by Multi-Health Systems, there are 15 competencies of emotional intelligence. Let’s take a closer look at some of these competencies to see how they are essential to maintaining motivation. 


There is more to optimism than simply thinking positively; it also includes how you are able to bounce back from setbacks and identify new opportunities. Optimistic individuals are highly resilient, as they view challenges as learning opportunities.   

Adapting an optimistic mindset can help you stay motivated, as you practice your resilience. When feeling unmotivated, allow your optimism to kick in and remind you that you CAN accomplish your tasks and goals. 

Positive reframing is one tactic that can help build your optimism. To put this into perspective, let’s say you’re responsible for leading a meeting at work, something you have never done before. To you, this is an incredibly daunting task, and your first instinct is to panic and exclaim, “I don’t know what to do!”  Instead, let’s positively reframe the issue – try saying “This is an exciting, new challenge for me. What’s the first step I need to take?” With this newly reframed message, you realize that your task is a brand new opportunity for you to broaden your skill set. When feeling unmotivated, try reframing your inner messages with a positive tone. Turn all your ‘I don’t… or ‘I can’t…‘ statements  to ‘I will…’ statements.

Self Regard

Self regard is respecting yourself while understanding your personal strengths and areas of opportunity. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses helps to boost your self confidence as you are aware of what you excel in, along with your areas of improvement. 

Tuning into your self regard can help you stay motivated and build your inner confidence. Like the self-fulfilling prophecy states, if you believe that you can conquer your tasks, then you will. However, if you have a low self regard and doubt your abilities in completing your tasks for the day, you will likely struggle and confirm what you already believe or confirm your negative self-talk that you will be unsuccessful in tackling your to-do list. At the end of the day, you know yourself the best. Use your self regard to remind yourself that you are fully capable to stay motivated!  

Problem Solving

When faced with problems, how do you react? Problem solving is an EQ competency that measures how you approach challenges when emotions are involved, and how your feelings will impact your decision making. Problem solving can help with motivation as you take a step back to build a blueprint to resolve your problems. 

Once we become aware of how our emotions affect us, we are able to identify how to react. For example, let’s say your new year’s resolution is to cut your caffeine intake. This is an overwhelming task to you, as you are accustomed to your regular routine of struggling to wake up, then relying on your cup of coffee to keep you awake through the early morning. Without your daily cup of joe, you fear that you will be exhausted.  As a result, you’re unmotivated to achieve your goal.

First, let’s recognize what emotions you associate with this resolution. You feel overwhelmed about implementing a new daily routine, and fear that you feel extremely tired with your reduced caffeine consumption. Next, let’s make a plan on how to react. Think about how you can reduce your stress towards implementing a new daily routine. Perhaps, you want to start with a smaller cup of coffee first before cutting it out completely. To minimize feeling tired in the morning, try sleeping earlier. Start setting a curfew 10 minutes earlier than your usual bedtime, then slowly increase the 10 minutes to 20… and so forth. Now, your goal no longer seems out of reach and is much more attainable!  

The next time you feel unmotivated, ask yourself why. Take note of any additional emotions associated with your lack of motivation, then create an action plan of how to tackle your challenge.  


Independence is a competency focused on self-direction. Individuals with high independence do not need to depend on others for reassurance; they are confident in their decisions and plans. When individuals possess a high degree of independence, they are able to cultivate motivation by becoming autonomous in their decision making. 

When highly independent, you are more likely to take charge of your decisions at work. For instance, if you have a time-pressed decision to make, you are able to solve the problem on your own. Independent people will likely be able to stay on top of their tasks, and make their own decisions, which in turn will keep them motivated.

The Checklist for Staying Motivated 

Now that you know how your emotional intelligence can help you stay motivated, here’s a checklist of activities that can help you develop the competencies mentioned above. Keep this checklist handy for the days when you need that extra boost of motivation!   


✓ Think of your challenges more positively by reframing them – start off with ‘I will…’ or ‘I can…’ 

✓ Look for positive affirmations and quotes – our Golden Nuggets are a great place to start! 

Self Regard

Record at least one achievement everyday, no matter how big or small. 

✓ It can be as simple as waking up on your first alarm without hitting snooze to successfully leading a meeting. Be proud of your accomplishments! 

Problem Solving

✓ Write down your challenges, jot down the associated feelings that come up when thinking about the problem, then record your ideas for conquering them. 

✓ Create a back-up plan in case your first idea does not turn out in your favour.


✓ Create a vision board of your goals. Vision boards show an idea of what you want your life to look like, regardless of others’ influences. Use your vision board to inspire you to build a routine that will get you to where you want to be!

Additional Resources

Looking for more ways to stay motivated? Check out our blog, Motivating Your Team With Empathy for tips on how you can use empathy, another EQ competency to motivate yourself and others around you. If you would like to learn more about emotional intelligence, be sure to sign up for our online Mastery Program, Leading with Emotional Intelligence.  

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