How To Stay Motivated When Feeling Low At Work
I remember dragging myself to work every day sleepy-eyed and totally vague. Staring at the computer I looked at advertisements that to me seemed from some other planet altogether.
I had no clue even why I was supposed to care about cars sold in some remote state of America. And then I met more like me. Suddenly it seemed that there were lots of people out there, like me, sleepwalking through their desk jobs. Not to forget, taking inspiration from our kind came innumerable movie characters who initially couldn’t find purpose in their jobs. But, in the climax, as is with movies, they emerge heroically.
Does the same happen in real life too? Does dealing with a flat or low phase in your job or career finally pave way for success? Does the sun really shine after a cloudy day?
Let’s find out!
So imagine, here you are sitting at your desk doing the most mundane things. You are searching for some inspiration or motivation to help you understand the meaning of it all. In fact, you would be more than happy to simply disappear if you could or evaporate into dust. But then you are no Harry Potter neither Thanos. So you stay put hoping that some magic happens.
Here is a piece of advice. The magic does happen, the fuzziness does clear and the motivation seeps back in your veins throbbing with energy and enthusiasm. How do you ask? How can you stay motivated at work or your desk job? The answers are plenty and simple. Take a look!
Remember Why You Began Doing It
There was a reason why you chose this job or applied for it in the first place. What attracted you to it? It could be the experience, the money, the brand name or the work environment. On days when you feel less motivated, remember your intentions and goals and that hopefully will help clear your mind. Even a dream job has it's one of those days’ phases and hence it’s important to recall the efforts and challenges that you overcame in order to make it so far.
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The Impact You Generate
Alright, so I understand you are not Iron Man and you cannot possibly have any significant impact on world peace.
But not to underestimate you is the first step to finding motivation.
The work you are doing is helping or is of use to someone out there. It will have some sort of impact if not directly, but definitely on the business or overall development of the industry.
Motivation comes when you know that there is a distinct aim or meaning in the work that you are doing.
Do Not Undermine What You Do
In fact, even if your work may seem to impact no one, in particular, be sure that it is helping you learn something along the way. It could be something as simple as discovering keyboard shortcuts or newer apps. Or it could be getting in touch with different people or working across different teams etc. ‘The voyage of discovery is not looking for new landscapes, but in looking with new eyes.
Motivate yourself by believing that what you do is no small task and that it is already adding to your share of life experiences and learning.
Break It Up, Make Short Term Small Goals
You know you want to be successful and that the job is a stepping stone towards your ultimate goal.
However, instead of always looking at the bigger picture, it helps to set small goals.
Take each assignment at a time and aim for doing it well. Do not always judge how the work you are doing now will impact your ultimate purpose.
You may be held up around your desk job which may not exactly be what you intended as the final milestone of your career. Yet, understand that the completion of every small task paves the way forward to the realization of your bigger dreams.
Celebrate the Small Achievements
After completing each of your smaller set goals it is time to celebrate. Indulge in treating yourself to some goodies if you know you have managed to get through successfully. As Teresa Amabile says, ‘Track your small wins to motivate big accomplishments.’
Waiting for the final reward at the end of the line is not the smartest thing to wait for.
Instead, celebrate the little accomplishments and give yourself a pat on the back. Buy yourself something or enjoy a celebratory dinner.
Have the Courage To Change Something
I am sure you have met the complaint boxes. I have. Those people who always claim that they are burdened by their jobs. It is simple. As Steve Jobs famously said, ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.’
Complaining about your desk job or showing lament on how your office environment is a torture cell is not the right attitude neither a solution.
Have the courage to talk to your superiors or peers if you want to change anything that makes you feel better. Look for ways to motivate yourself by finding different ways and avenues to make your boring job a little more interesting.
Simple hacks, such as changing the format of your reports or introducing mid-week trackers, etc. help to break the monotony that has set it. A change of desk or additions of personal decors in your workspace are some other ways to change the settings of your physical and mental surroundings. Listen to Thomas Edison when he says, ‘There is a way to do it better…find it.’
And Move On Over Things That Cannot Be Changed
Some things won’t change! You cannot change your boss if he acts like your nemeses. You also cannot help if you have to deal with an unpleasant client or work through a boring deal. Not every single project or workload will be adventurous and out of the box. It is important to accept those things that you cannot change and ignore them while also moving on.
Ignore your boss’s comments and plough through the project anyway because you need to move out of your comfort zone to succeed. In the end, this is what experience really means.
An amalgamation of doing things you like and dislike. Both make you stronger, adaptable and each motivates you to chase your dreams.
Make a To-Do List
This simple approach often brings out the best results. When you are not motivated the various tasks seem to be floating in a gooey mixer inside your head. You might find it hard to concentrate and get things done. Making a list is the best way to fight off this lethargy. Note it all down and paste it right in front of you where you can see the list at all times.
Jot down even the tiniest of things that you are meant to do for the day at work. Start ticking off as you complete one task after another. At the end of the day, the ticked list will give you a sense of accomplishment and show you quite literally what you have done in the entire day. This is perhaps the biggest motivational boost you can get.
Take Breaks and Wind up on Time
You cannot be expected to be motivated throughout the entire day! Give yourself short breaks during work to help rejuvenate. Use the breaks to interact with colleagues, take a stroll around or sip a cup of coffee. Your mind needs that little rest to jump start with energy again. Similarly, decide on the time when you wind up your work and head home. This helps to compress your work in a given time space motivating you to finish off the tasks quickly and in a well-planned manner.
Sometimes we tend to just stay glued to our seats in remorse not wanting to leave neither wanting to do much. Setting a time-bound routine helps to focus on the tasks at hand.
Spend Time with Colleagues
Build a good rapport with your work colleagues. Talking and interacting with them helps to find motivation and the initiation of new ideas. Learning about their struggles and passion towards work can help you be more thankful and focused at yours. Also, sharing your low phase with them can help you find fast friends who motivate you each day to be better.
A little positive peer pressure is always good because the competition does push us to bring out the best. On a lighter note, you do need an office buddy to complaint about your bosses and to hang out with during lunch to learn all the office gossip. Your colleagues cheer you up and interaction with them keeps you happy and light-hearted.
Look For Alternatives
Instead of cursing what you do, find alternate openings within the same organization or outside to be better placed. There are two ways of dealing with the low or flat phase of your work life. Stick through it no matter what if that is the path that leads you to your ultimate goal. Find ways to remain motivated and positive knowing that this phase shall pass.
This cycle is familiar in almost all careers where there is a struggle initially and reward in the end. Look at interns or new recruits in the medical or defence fields. They have to work extremely hard in the first few years. This hard work prepares and strengthens them to find higher ranks and experiences in the long run of their careers.
On the other hand, if the job you are at seems to not be exuding any silver hope of lining for you, then it is time to find alternatives. Move from one team to another or from one project to another within the company that interests you more.
I was lucky to find an exciting opportunity in my own company and after a year looking at advertisements, I switched my job role. Let me tell you, the switch worked like a miracle and I never felt more upbeat, confident and happy in my entire working career.
Working From Home
When we talk about alternatives, work from home is a definite reality. In fact, to stay motivated while working from home is a tad bit more difficult because you are not surrounded by a working environment or colleagues. The actual work often takes a back seat when compared to the other daily routines.
To remain motivated while working from home, the first step is to value your skill and work. Do not treat your work hours and content any lesser because you are seen to be usually available and adjustable on most days. Take pride in multi-tasking and reward yourself with small gifts after you complete each task. Keep networking online to build a wide base. Read up a lot to stay motivated and learn from the life experiences of others.
One of the most challenging phases in anyone’s life is to emerge victorious through an experience that is disturbing and uncomfortable. Yet, there are many ways to motivate oneself to see through such phases. And though you are not Harry Potter or Thanos, be sure that you can wield the most unexpected powers only if you set out to unfold them.
‘It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up’
– Vince Lombardi.