6 Ways to Stay Motivated on the Job

By Sarah Winfrey on 6 March 2015 0 comments

I see you. Yeah, you. The one sitting in your cubicle, frustrated because the job you wanted, the job you killed yourself to get, is driving you crazy right now.

And I see you, too. The one working hard at a job you don't really like. Maybe you need to pay the bills, or you need the benefits, or you know it's a stepping stone to something better. (See also: 5 Simple Ways to Fight Burnout)

No matter the reason behind your flagging motivation, you can get out of that funk. You can push through that wall. You can get yourself back on track. Even better, you can blow the track out of the water. Here's how.

1. See Your Goals

Most jobs have goals built-in, but even if you don't, you can at least outline some goals for performance, projects completed, and so on with your boss. (If you don't currently have any goals at work, by all means, sit down and produce some.)

The thing is, having goals isn't, in and of itself, enough to keep you motivated. Like a high-performance athlete, you need to envision yourself meeting your goals. Include all the details of what it will be like to succeed in order to better understand the concrete steps you should take to get there. This visualization will also put you in a positive frame of mind and increase your motivation to succeed.

For instance, imagine what it would be like to make your current project a huge success. Think about how your team would celebrate, what it would be like to get your boss's commendation, and how you'd talk about the success to others.

All of this imagining helps you stay positive and work with sustained energy towards your goal.

2. Reward Yourself

In addition to having goals for the year or for a long-term project, make short-term goals for yourself, too, and reward yourself every time you meet them. Your brain is wired to respond positively to regular successes and rewards. Every time you succeed, it releases dopamine, which is tied to happiness and motivation.

Break your long-term goals down into short-term ones by figuring out what's next. What is the very next thing that needs to be done to help you reach that long-term goal? When you determine that, you have your short-term goal. And when you meet that goal, give yourself a small reward. Over time, your brain will become wired for success.

3. Make It Fun

It's not hard to understand why doing fun things is more motivating than engaging in boring tasks, but making work fun can be quite a task. Usually, the jobs you're not motivated to do are the ones that are boring, repetitive, or just plain difficult.

Try thinking of ways to make the hard parts more enjoyable, such as doing the most tedious parts of your job alongside a friend or coworker. You don't have to work on the same thing and you don't have to talk, but having another person around might make the whole thing more enjoyable.

Focus on making work a place you enjoy in general. Then, ask yourself some questions about how to make the hard parts more fun, and you could see your motivation will soar.

4. Remember Your Reasons

If you're looking outside of yourself for motivation, sometimes there's none to be found. Instead, look inside yourself for the reasons why you want to do the job at hand.

Internal motivation can come from many different places. Maybe you want to do well at work so that you can get a promotion. Maybe you need to do well to support your family or to care for someone close to you. And maybe you simply value doing the job well, even if it's not a job you adore.

When you know your reasons for doing the job, your motivation comes from inside yourself. No one can touch that. They can't take it away from you, no matter how bad things get.

5. Only Control What You Can

Whether you're working with a team or by yourself, every job comes with circumstances that are outside of your control. Instead, think concretely about what you can control, and put all of your energy into controlling those areas. So, go ahead — put your heart and soul into making the best presentation you can, but understand that your clients still may not like it (and that this may have more to do with what they had for breakfast than with the presentation itself!).

Putting boundaries around your energy and where you'll invest it can boost your motivation, because you won't be exhausted from running around like a headless chicken — nor will you feel beholden to every Jack or Jill's opinion.

6. Design a Plan B

Motivation plummets when you feel like you've failed — especially when it happens at work. Instead of viewing projects that aren't successful as failures, though, see them as simply one option that didn't work. And every time you find a way that doesn't work, you're one step closer to finding a way that does.

Failing doesn't mean that you don't have a good idea. Even if you fail many times, it doesn't mean that what you're working on is a flop. If something crashes and burns, just check that way of doing things off your list and try another.

When you see life through these glasses, you'll find yourself more motivated. Looking at things this way allows you to stop taking failure personally, to continue to believe in your ideas, and to work really, really hard to make things come together the next time.

Finding motivation on the job is more about your mindset than anything else. When you change the way you think about your duties, you'll change the way you approach them; and you'll find yourself happier and more motivated at work.

How do you stay motivated on the job? What works for you?

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