How to Feel More Mentally Energized and Motivated

The key to staying energized and motivated isn't 16-oz. cup of coffee

Even though you've gotten your eight (ok, ten) hours of beauty sleep and sipped on a double-shot latte before heading into the office, the moment you sit down at your desk, you suddenly feel exhausted. What gives?

Turns out, being physically well-rested doesn't mean your mind is energized and ready to take on the day too. That's where Marianne Aerni and Dev Aujla come in. Aerni, the co-founder of Wild NYC, which creates learning and growth sessions, and Aujla, the author of 50 Ways to Get a Job and the CEO of Catalog, a recruiting and facilitation firm, lead workshops to help people gain mental energy and tap into their true potential at wellness and coaching studio Reset in New York City.

Here, the duo explains the innovative ways give yourself a mental—and motivational— boost.

What are some of your top techniques for helping people find more energy, creativity, and satisfaction in their lives?

Aujla: I like to work with people on freeing up mental space, which in turn lets them bring more energy to the rest of their lives. There’s one simple exercise I love. I make a list of what I call tolerations—those small things that are annoying but that you never change. Like running out of paper towels without having more on hand. Or your creaky bedroom door. Or the sticky zipper on your favorite pair of jeans. List them all, then set aside a day to eliminate them. Buy a ton of paper towels, grease the door, repair the zipper.

It sounds silly, but that takes a huge load off your mind, freeing up all this mental energy you never knew was missing. It’s one of those things I do three times a year. (

I absolutely love that. Are there any other sneaky mental drains we can get rid of?

Aujla: Commitments are a big one. Another suggestion I give to people is to note every commitment you make to yourself or someone else for three days. This isn’t about keeping track of your schedule. It’s about noticing how you make commitments without even realizing it. You just met with someone, and without thinking you say, “Let’s get together again soon” or “Let me send you that book I was talking about.” Commitments take up mental space. Keeping the log encourages you to be more judicious about your words and what you choose to do.

Another simple way to boost energy or motivation is to make a list of everything you want to learn. You can jot down any random questions that come to you during the day and can be answered with a quick Google search—Why do you see mirages?—as well as things that will take more effort to learn, like a new career skill. The list can reveal interests you can explore, motivate you to build a side hustle, or help you find fresh meaning in your current job.

What about you, Marianne? What’s one of the most helpful exercises you like to do with people?

Aerni: One of the things I often bring up is feedback. It’s so helpful personally and professionally, but often we wait a long time to get it. At work you may have only one or two performance reviews a year—and it feels like this big hurtful thing. I teach people to ask for it regularly and to ask for it in this two-question framework: “Is there anything you think I could have done differently on this? Is there any particular thing you think I did well?” This encourages people to deliver more objective and less opinionated feedback, which ends up being more beneficial.

Do you have any tips for keeping up energy during the day?

Aerni: I’m a big fan of breaks. Smokers go outside for frequent breaks. Just because you don’t smoke doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a break. Get outside, go for a walk, get a coffee. It’s very energizing. (

Aujla: I’ve been using this app called iNaturalist. You take a picture of any plant or animal and send it to the app, where a big community of naturalists can identify it and talk about it. I love it. It gives me a reason to get outside and plugs me into my surroundings, which is great mentally. (These foods will give you the energy you need to power through your day.)

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