Motivation is quite a slippery beast. You might think that at the start of a new year and with appraisal season looming you would be highly motivated at work. But motivation can be very elusive. Some days you have it in spades, others you can barely muster it at all. In theory you care about your work and doing it well every day, but in practice some days you can barely rally yourself to do anything.
Here are eight things you can do to be more motivated
1. Employ Counter-Intuition
You need to work hard, but if you think of it as hard work that can make it feel, um, hard to do. But if you frame it as work you need to do to become the person you want to be, then you are focusing on the benefits that will come your way if you do this work rather than on the effort involved.
2. Don’t Think, Do It
Thought can be the enemy of action. Sitting around waiting for motivation or willing yourself to get motivated can put a brake on actually getting motivated. So try to jump in, and the minute it is time to do something, just start to do it. This can be hard at first, you might have to do it robotically, but you will soon find that motivation follows action rather than the other way round.
3. Go For Single Goals, Rather Than The World Cup
This is the most common advice you will ever receive about motivation: it’s fine to aim high, but make you sure you think about how to break that goal down into bite-sized achievable parts. This not only makes it feel easier to get started, but brings a sense of progress, accomplishment and achievement along the way. Completing a large project can look daunting but if you break it down into steps and stages along the way it becomes easier to maintain motivation.
4. Edit the To-Do List
My guess is that once you start examining your combined lists of things to do, you will find items on it that are dull, you don’t care about, or don’t really need to do. Dragging yourself through these tasks wastes time and depletes your energy and ability to do the things you like and that are important to you. You will stay more consistently motivated if the things you are doing feel meaningful to you and are part of your wider mission.
5. Keep Boundaries
Whether you work for yourself or for a company, the idea of motivation at work has become confused with putting long hours in. But it is not possible for human beings to maintain concentration and focus over a 60 or 80-hour working week. You need to take breaks and recognise when enough is enough. Set realistic boundaries in terms of working after a certain hour or answering emails after hours or not working at weekends. And try to stick to them. Getting away, and allowing yourself to rest enables you to feel more refreshed and productive.
6. Recognise the Patterns
What do you notice about when you do and don’t feel motivated? Psychological research shows that we all get motivated in different ways, so if you can work out your motivational pattern you will be able to find the right incentives or circumstances to enable it.
7. Tap Into Your Why
Can you remember what you wrote in your covering letter when you applied for your job? Or the mission statement you made when set up your business? What was it that first excited you about your role? Most people can’t, but going back to remind yourself why you do what you do — whatever the reason(s) keeping them in mind will help you to feel engaged in what you do.
8. Celebrate Wins
Don’t forget to enjoy any successes along the way — even seemingly insignificant ones like getting to a meeting on time against the odds. If you can take a second to feel good about these minor triumphs it can give you the boost you need to take on the next task. I am guessing that if, to stay with the same example, you hadn’t made it to that meeting on time your inner critic would have a field day and take you down for your ‘failure’. So doing the opposite and acknowledging or even praising yourself when you do get things right can help to keep you affirmed, confident, and on track.
If you would like some support with goals or motivation at work, then therapy could be a good option for you. Just call 020 8673 4545 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a confidential appointment. We have sessions available seven days a week at our centres in Clapham SW4 and Tooting SW17.