How to Get Your Motivation on at Work
Everybody goes into a flat spin at some point each day. Here's how to straighten up and fly right.
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Everyone chases motivation, and most of us endure periods without it. Lack of motivation doesn't just affect performance at work. It affects your emotional well-being and your ability to continue pursuing the goals you've set for yourself. Recharging your drive isn't easy, especially when so many factors steal it. Plus, you might end up in a catch-22, when lack of inspiration makes it harder to pursue activities which might, in turn, give you more initiative. When you're feeling stuck, follow these tips to recover your motivation and energy.
Replace should with why.
Entrepreneur Camille Preston says the word should can sabotage your motivation at work. When you feel like you should do something, deriving a sense of purpose or passion from that activity becomes difficult. Since no one is able to derive a sense of purpose from every email they send, you might want to focus on why instead.
Then go further: Why are you in your current job? Discover the elements of your job that make you feel purposeful or the ones about which you're passionate. That can change your feelings from should to want, because it affects a larger whole that's important to you.
Stop being so busy.
Lots of people fall into the trap of doing lots of tiny tasks at the beginning of the day, only to feel tired and uninspired when the bigger, more important tasks arise. Try flipping that formula. Tackle the big, daunting stuff at the beginning of the day when you're fresh and energized. Accomplishing something significant adds energy to the rest of your day because you no longer have it hanging over your head.
Related: The Psychology of Getting More Done (In Less Time)
Speaking of those tiny little tasks, how many can you delegate? It's hard to relinquish control sometimes, but when something isn't your job or when you have an assistant who can accomplish certain tasks for you, take advantage of that ability. You've got enough to do as it is, so don't push yourself into being busier than you have to be.
Move throughout the day.
Sluggishness and drowsiness cut into our daily motivation at work. When you consider the health detriments of remaining sedentary for eight or more hours a day, it isn't hard to see why you aren't feeling your best. When you find your eyelids drooping or mind wandering there at your computer, stand up and get moving. Take a walk around the office, climb a few flights of stairs, or take a short stroll outside.
If you can't leave your desk, try a standing desk or do some stretches or yoga poses. A quick Internet search will reveal lots of yoga poses you can do at your desk to wake yourself up and alleviate back pain. Challenge yourself to develop a short desk yoga routine you can do when you're feeling unmotivated or drowsy.
Lower your expectations outside of work.
Many people are emotionally exhausted, and your life outside of work can contribute to that. When you get home, do you relax and enjoy time with your family, or is your home life as busy as your work life? Rebalancing your personal life is difficult, and if you want to make changes, they won't happen overnight. Start by focusing on doing one thing for yourself each week. Take a walk at a favorite park, book a massage, or have lunch with a friend. You need time to recharge your emotions, just like you need time to recharge your brain.
Related: 4 Strategies to Regulate Your Emotions in Stressful Situations
You probably have some shoulds tugging at you and creating guilt in your personal life, too. Either find the why behind them or cross them off the list. Maybe you feel like you should repaint the guest room, for example, but how impactful is that on your overall wellbeing?
Connect more with coworkers.
When you aren't friendly with your coworkers, going to work every day becomes an unpleasant chore. Even if you have a rich personal life and don't need any additional friends outside of work, you may still need friends at work. Distancing yourself from the rest of the office makes work harder for you because you spend so much time there without connecting with other humans.
Sometimes having a small conversation with one of your work friends in the break room can perk you up for your next meeting or task. Even if you aren't a fan of most of your coworkers, find things in common with a few of them. These don't have to be your new best friends, just some people you can have a short chat with while you're at the office. Plus, working on teams becomes easier when you have a warm relationship with your teammates.
Find outside sources of inspiration.
Think about the people you admire. Have any of them written books or given talks you can look to for inspiration? If they're close, like family members, think about why you admire them and then draw on those traits as a source of inspiration at your job. If you don't know them well, do some additional research and discover what makes them tick. Often, you'll find that they also worked hard and struggled with motivation from time to time.
Related: These 11 Steve Jobs Quotes Will Motivate You to Change the World
Discover new people to look up to, too. Check out motivational speakers and inspirational books or blogs to get new ideas about how to recharge yourself when you're feeling drained. Your new inspiration can be as simple as a few quotations you keep on a bulletin board, or as in-depth as a bookshelf full of favorite motivational texts.
Regaining your motivation won't happen overnight. It's a process you'll continue to work at every step of your career. Once you develop the tools to keep yourself inspired, you'll more easily identify when you feel yourself slipping into exhaustion or boredom. When you catch it early, you can start pulling yourself out again. Keep working on your motivation, to reach and surpass your goals.