Strong Goals During the New Normal That Will Calm You Down

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The events we’re going through right now have the power to shape us forever. None of us will be the same after this. Even if we don’t get sick ourselves, we all know someone who knows someone. Or we know someone who narrowly escaped being sick. So why have new goals at all, you might ask? For one thing, you’ll feel more in control if you have goals.

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First Look at Your Old Goals

Did you have resolutions for New Years that are now out the window? Why not rewrite them, since you’re at home anyway? For instance, one of my New Years goals was to make my own clothes. Hahaha! As if that’ll ever happen now. But instead, I’m making masks for healthcare providers to use. You might need to pivot in a similar way. You might like: How to Make Stretch Goals That Make You Stretch.

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Lowering the Bar Might Help

Some days, getting out of bed, making coffee, and making breakfast might be all that you can handle. Or calling up an elderly neithbor or two. Making that big goal a bit smaller could be just the ticket. Everyone’s expectations need to be lowered right now, since for many even going to the grocery store isn’t happening the same way it used to be.

Be Kind to Everyone, Including Yourself

One of my friends said it best: be sure to vote for Team You. That is, hang out with people who nurture and support you. If people don’t support you, leave their orbit. Maybe try being around them later. So maybe take some of your goals off your list entirely. Try learning to bungee jump next year instead of this year.

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Be Introspective

One thing that’s really good to do right now is to meditate on what you want from your life, your career, and your family. Why not consider writing in a diary, or restarting the diary that you haven’t written in for awhile? You might even want to start a gratitude journal. We’re all getting more alone time, so why not take advantage?

Startups: Ten Ways to Demotivate Employees


Startups: Ten Ways to Demotivate Employees

Startups: Ten Ways to Demotivate Employees

If you work at a startup, you might have heard of a few ways to motivate your employees. But I’ll bet you don’t know that many ways to demotivate them! Here are my top ten. And of course these are tongue-in-cheek ideas.


Looking over an employee’s shoulder, watching their every move, and poking your nose into their business is a sure way to demotivate anyone. And it’s also a great way to say “we don’t trust you to do your job.” Forbes has a good article on Managing Micromanagers. One thing to keep in mind is that the micromanager may be suffering from being micromanaged as well.

Constant Criticism

It's Still Baloney

It’s Still Baloney

Finding small errors and focusing on those is a sure way to demotivate an employee. This includes the formula that many use to deliver criticism–in a “sandwich” with two pieces of praise on either end. That’s still a big slab of baloney in the middle of that sandwich, right? Even if you do believe that you’ll make more money by making your employees happy, why do that?

Never Express Gratitude

Count to Ten

Count to Ten

If you do feel the need to say anything positive, count to ten and then wait until the moment passes. Some people seem able to follow this rule. Never saying thank you, or spending a moment to say “good job!” can work wonders in the demotivation arena.

Leave ‘Em Hanging

Promising something over and over is a fantastic way to cause people to become disenchanted. The promise can be anything from a promotion to a software release to a change in the direction of the company as a whole. And don’t explain why what they were promised never materialized.

Constant Threats of Layoffs

Don't Ever Look for the Best

Don’t Ever Look for the Best

When everyone is frightened of losing their jobs, morale is usually at a low. Even if there is no planned layoff, having a rumor that there will be one can cause a great deal of demotivation. And demotivation often brings along its friends, Fear and Lack of Confidence. Woo Hoo!

Stupidity at the Top

Put people in charge who lack experience and common sense, as well as humility, and your people will definitely feel demotivated. You might consider hiring only friends or family members for an added demotivational bonus.

Bad Communication

If you can avoid any communication telling employees what is going on, they’ll probably be unhappy. This includes email, informal get togethers, or all-hands meetings. Another good trick is to cancel meetings at the last minute.

Asking Too Much

Avoid Communication

Avoid Communication

Having lofty goals, and especially if they’re set by someone else, is a surefire recipe for disaster, especially if the goal-setter is unfamiliar with the victim’s work flow. If the goal-setter is in another part of the country, or better still, another country, that’s even better.

Being Intentionally Mean-Spirited

Few companies are intentionally mean-spirited, in my opinion. So being mean-spirited will take extra effort. It’s worth going the extra mile.

Lack of Down Time

The expectation of asking employees to always be “on” can cause burnout and fatigue. Need I say more?

What Are Your Favorite Demotivational Tips?

One of my favorite sites,, has posters and calendars for sale if you need a laugh! But I’m interested in what you’ve experienced yourself. Please leave me a comment!


Startups and Motivation: Staying the Course

Startups and Motivation: Staying the Course

Startups and Motivation: Staying the Course

Recently, a friend of mine, Dr. Beth Halbert, mentioned something that stuck with me. She said that she used to create long lists of to-do items every day. Her lists were three pages long, and she could never finish all the action items. Every night, she felt like a failure. Then, she changed something. She created shorter lists, with only 2-3 things that she can finish. Now she feels successful every single day. I’ve been thinking about this simple concept and how it could be applied to staying motivated while working in startups. By the way, if you’re in a startup, you might also be interested in my article on Ten Things Ways the San Francisco Giants Can Improve Your Game.

Have Reasonable Goals

Granted, some people enjoy the feeling of pressure (including the knot they get in their stomach) every day. Some people love “stretch goals,” even if those goals are completely unattainable. But many of us would rather have a reasonable goal so that we can knock it out of the ballpark every single time. A list with only 2-3 items that are achievable can help your morale more than that list with a million action items on it.

Reward Yourselves

Although I’m a great believer in the Law of Attraction, it’s not always easy to stay the course and be positive. But a reward is something that you and your team will look forward to, and look back upon with great pleasure. The reward might be a party for the team, some wine for everyone, or something more business-related such as phone chargers. One of my own favorite rewards was a pair of expensive shoes. Right now I’ve set a target whose reward will be a grafted apple tree with seven varieties of apples.

Pay People Enough

Do I need to say anything about this? If people don’t have a certain minimum salary, they’ll want to go elsewhere (here are some power tips to beef up your LinkedIn profile if you’re looking for a J.O.B., by the way). Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, that amount is certainly higher than in other parts of the country.

Give Autonomy and Get Outta the Way

People need to be self-directed, to feel that their actions matter, and to feel engaged at work. This sense of autonomy can be overlooked in startups (and larger companies too). One of my favorite videos is this one on motivation, by RSA Animate. You’d be surprised at what actually motivates people (watch the video). The assumption that people want to do cool things is one that forward-thinking startups embrace.

What Makes You Feel Motivated?

What makes you want to jump out of bed and go to work? Or if you don’t want to go to work, why not? Please tell me; I’m very interested in hearing from you.

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