Unmotivated on an important day? Here’s what you need to do.

We’ve all been there. You have an important meeting, and you just feel down. You’re unmotivated, uncomfortable, anxious, angry, sad, or sometimes a mixture of all of four.

When those uncomfortable days intersect with important meetings or presentations, disaster can strike.

Research tells us that there has been a profound uptick in depression and anxiety since the pandemic began. Many people feel dissociated both from their work and themselves. This feeling can easily spiral.

Putting off important projects and making excuses can become easier and easier. This malaise may show up even when you have critical meetings like budget negotiations, performance reviews, board presentations, or training sessions. 

 When you’re just not feeling it when your performance really matters, what can you do?

The most important question to ask yourself when you’re feeling unmotivated

Ask yourself… how you would act if you showed up as your best self?

 We all know how our best self feels – confident and in control.

Asking the question of how your best self would show up can pull you out of your negative emotional state because it moves you to an intellectual state of curiosity. It allows you to consider how you behave when you are engaged, motivated, focused.

But what if I can’t find my best self?


If you’re struggling to remember how your best self feels, think about someone else you admire.  Think about how they act, then imagine them at your important event. See them giving the presentation or asking for the technology the compliance program needs to succeed.

The word “embody” means just that – taking on emotion or action and using your body and self to express it. Your job is to embody your best self, or the person you most admire, for the important event.

 One of the best ways to do this is to vividly remember a time when you were successful. This is called “brain priming.”

Brain priming is a technique where the introduction of one stimulus – in this case, the memory of you being successful – influences how we respond to a subsequent stimulus – the upcoming event you need to be motivated for.


 Priming works by activating that association or representation in memory just before another task is introduced. Here’s some steps you can take to prime your brain to be your best self:

This is a powerful tool of visualization that can create confidence when you need it the most. Sometimes faking it till you make it is the best advice you can give yourself and emit that positive energy for your important event to go well.

Remember, it’s temporary

If you’re still feeling down, it’s helpful to remind yourself that you only need to be in your best self-state for a certain amount of time. If you’re presenting for an hour, think about how the hour will be over quickly and then you can come back down.

Considering time limits can be beneficial, as our depressed self can tell us it’s impossible, but our best self can manage for the number of minutes required.

You can also try bribery. Yes, my fellow compliance officers, bribery!

Choose something you enjoy and promise yourself the gift when you’ve finished. Chocolate, bubble baths, a walk in nature, binge-watching your favorite TV program – whatever it is that makes you feel good and indulged so you can look forward to the thing you enjoy after you’ve finished the thing that you don’t.

Inevitably, sometimes we won’t feel our best when we need to be. But, by remembering how we would show up if we were our most powerful self and then embodying those behaviors, (and look forward to a little treat at the end), we can get the same results no matter how we’re really feeling.