5 Self-Motivation Tools for Executive Assistants

If you’ve never seen a Tony Robbins ad, video, or show, it’s worth a Google search. You’ll find stadium size crowds cheering for the one piece of advice to help change their lives through his powerful seminars and life coaching. In almost every case, these fans are looking for self-motivation that we all crave in our career, like the power to not only succeed, but to go the extra mile to achieve  goals and aspirations. What causes this drive, how do we make it, and how do we implement self-motivation in the EA career?
Self-motivation takes learning a few mental tools to be successful. Some assistants may find some tools more helpful than others, and some will find themselves developing their own guidebook, which can be just as effective if implemented consistently. To get started, let’s jump into some of the best tools and ideologies for visible results.


While the daily duties of an executive assistant will inevitably mirror the responsibilities of their executive, it’s essential your goals align as well. Because of this, assistants should take a substantial interest in achieving those goals, as your success is linked with your executive. If you’re working for an executive that hasn’t set clear goals for your career trajectory, it’s vital to start the conversation.  Without this conversation, it’s possible you’ll become comfortable in your daily tasks and will inevitably become complicit with the status quo.
In many cases, your principal may become laser-focused on their responsibilities,  and they might lose their ability to manage you in the way you need to be managed. The key is to identify areas in which you can take on more responsibility and to ask for projects that will serve the bigger picture. When approaching your executive about pursuing a new venture in your role, make sure they’re aware of the scope of the project. In most cases, your executive will appreciate your interest in the success of their work, and may even reward you with more responsibility, which will open doors you never knew existed for your career.

Reject negativity

In every working environment, some people take a negative view of the world, their career, and the people around them. Even fellow assistants may see the critical work they perform through a pessimistic lens, and might goes as far to convince you to think the same.
Motivational Speaker and Navy Seal, David Goggins, has inspired millions with his mental mindset on negativity and achieving impossible goals. Born out of a broken home, David was faced with a disabling speech impediment and learning disability. David championed the “What If” mentality, and overcame the pessimists who doubted his goal of becoming the 36th African American Navy Seal.
“Most people who can’t imagine it, reflect. It’s like a mirror. They put that right on you. If they can’t see themselves doing it: I can’t see you doing it, I take that mirror and I totally discard it.“
As assistants, you can’t let others define who you are. It’s crucial for assistants  challenge the perceptions of the EA career in order to progress professionally. Assistants will face a range of challenges that test their will and endurance, but there’s no reason to sustain negativity in your career.  If you find yourself surrounded by negative influences, it’s time to look for a change. Lead through influence of positive behaviors. Then, if you’re still encountering issues, seek a mentor out to discuss, work directly with your executive, or take the issue straight to human resources.


Visualization is one of those buzzwords that has been floating around for several years. In its essence, it means following your dreams or goals to fruition. All assistants have a job, but some assistants have a strategic career plan. This includes many possible paths, but they all lead to a single point in space and time. According to a recently published Forbes article on the topic, “Don’t get too caught up with how far you are, instead focus on the present and set yourself daily or weekly actions to get to where you want.” Careers aren’t built in a day, and it will take time to see your vision manifest in reality. Also note, it’s never too late in your career to start accepting new challenges.

Start Small

We talk a lot about building your network and your social presence at ELS. It’s a crucial tool that allows for you to make connections that will excel your career. When assistants see their peers excel on social media, it can be challenging to understand how they made it to that moment. Why are they a professional coach and I’m not? How do they get so many likes on their posts? The truth is, the majority of those people put in countless hours of work to get where they are today. Very few people become influencers overnight, and assistants need to accept that the road is tedious.
If you aren’t already, talk to your executive about their LinkedIn. Are their goals in mind for growing their network? Is this an area you can lend a hand?

Never give up

Take a second to recall your first job interview. Remember how overpowering those initial nerves were, and the strength it took to stay calm? For many assistants, the road to supporting c-suite executives is a long but rewarding one. Many assistants are used to going the extra mile or even 10 miles for there executives. They might not wake up ready to do that, but they find an internal strength to get it done.
Motivational speaker and former Navy seal, David Goggins, has coined this strength “the cookie jar” . The cookie jar is a compilation of your most cherished accomplishments. In particular, those accomplishments that you never thought achieve. When you’re ready to quit, David recommends you reach into that cookie jar, and remember all challenges you’ve overcome.
To consistently work towards your personal and professional goals, it’s crucial to exercise self-discipline. Assistants are used to being accountable to their executives, but the best assistants are responsible for themselves. They hold themselves accountable for achieving the goals of the business, and do everything in their power to complete tasks with integrity. Putting out fires will help you keep your job, identifying a spark will make you irreplaceable.
There is plenty of ideology around self-motivation. However, we feel if you set goals, reject negativity, start small, and never give up, you’ll be on the right road to success. Afterall, success in motivation simply comes from deciding each morning to give it your all.
At the ELS Forum, we highly encourage EAs, PAs, VAs, and all other administrative professionals of every generation to set a clear path for their career. We will fall short at one time or another, but above everything, we get back up. This profession is tough, and we need to utilize every tool available to achieve our greatest aspirations.