Most of us will have those days when work feels like a drag and we lack motivation. But when you can’t figure out how to get out of that negative state for a long period of time, it’s time to make a change.
While leaving for another opportunity is certainly an option (and possibly the right one for you), you owe it to yourself to consider interim strategies before you take an irrevocable step.
Last week, I shared seven ways to get motivated at work again.
Today, I’d like to share five more ways that may help you get that spark back in your career.
5 More Ways to Get Motivated at Work
1. Be Entrepreneurial
When it feels like everything is laid out for you and there’s no room for creativity, that’s the time to call on the entrepreneurial part of yourself to step out and step up.
Experiment with ways to do things better. Keep an eye out for improvements in efficiency and outcomes, and you could do this on your own or with others.
For example, if you’re saddled with highly repetitive work, could you figure out a way to automate or outsource it, or eliminate the need for it altogether through a more innovative way to handle things further upstream?
Once you’ve come up with an idea, you can pitch it to your managers. The beauty is, when you’re the one who comes up with a different (and better) way of doing things, you’re the natural one to be put in charge of the new system!
Where could you innovate in your workplace?
2. Start a Side Project
Whether it’s an internal or external project, starting a project on the side can provide a creative outlet when your “day job” doesn't provide the right kinds of challenge anymore.
Depending on what you feel is missing from your work, you could choose from a variety of options. If you want learning opportunities, then it could be taking a course or getting a degree. If you’re interested in creating an additional revenue stream beyond your job, you could monetize your expertise through one of the many ways my friend Dorie Clark describes in her book, Entrepreneurial You.
And as my friend Susie Moore recommends, you could develop this entrepreneurial project into a proper “side hustle” that could lead you into a whole new career as that side project blossoms into something bigger.
3. Position Yourself for the Next Opportunity
If your motivation is low because you’ve topped out in your current job or can see that happening soon, then it’s time to position yourself for the next opportunity.
Whether that’s going after a promotion, getting staffed on a new project or leading an initiative, make sure you’re taking actions that will help demonstrate you’ve got what it takes to get to the next level, whatever that next level means for you.
A great place to start is by activating your network, which means having conversations with people to share your ideas and aspirations and get advice on what accomplishments are needed to get where you want to go.
In particular, it’s useful to speak to your boss and mentors about your desire to advance and determine some actionable steps you’d like to take. Maybe you could propose a new project or take a course to learn a new skill. Perhaps you need to make the case for more resources, so you can delegate and step up to a more strategic level.
What do you need to demonstrate or ask for to position yourself for the next opportunity?
4. Look at Things from Your Manager’s Perspective
If your boss is a demotivating factor for you, take a moment to look at things from their perspective. Life may not be sunshine and roses for him or her either.
It’s hard being in charge when you don’t have much leeway to make your team members’ jobs inspiring. It’s challenging to keep doing more with less resources. Frankly, your manager might feel the same way you do.
And in all likelihood, your manager may not know how to be a great boss – at least not yet. Often, people get promoted into management roles because they excelled at an area of expertise, not because they are already great managers. And they’re expected to hit the ground running without training or support.
Remember, most people don’t come into the office with the objective of doing a bad job. Not you, and not your manager.
So, how can you manage upward and help your manager be a good boss for you?
5. Create New Habits
It’s harder to feel motivated when you’re tired, stressed or feeling unhealthy. Sometimes that’s for good reason, and sometimes it’s because we’ve fallen into habits that push us further into feeling less than our best selves. Maybe it’s staying up late, having that extra glass of wine, or eating junk food when we’re on the go.
Habits are simply what we routinely do, and it’s up to each of us to choose the habits that give us the best chance to get and stay motivated at work and in life.
What’s the one habit that would make the most positive difference if you changed or adopted it?
Your Path to Self-Motivation
Finding and harnessing your own intrinsic motivation is a powerful driver for a successful career and a life worth living. The thing is, it requires some focus and attention to get and stay in that zone of self-motivation.
So, when you’re feeling stuck, take a moment to figure out what the issue is. Is it the lack of alignment with your organization or job? The people, whether that’s your boss or colleagues? The absence of opportunities for learning and growth? Your personal state of well-being (or lack of it)? Or something else?
Knowing the answer makes it easier to identify whether the issue is specific to you, to your work situation, or a combination of both. This in turn drives the strategies and action steps you choose to pursue.
Some action steps you can take unilaterally without anyone else’s cooperation or permission. For example, changing your habits and adopting a different mindset. Those are good ones to start with because you can get going right away.
Other strategies involve getting buy-in from others, for example asking to be staffed on new projects or negotiating for more resources, and may take longer to implement.
Your path to self-motivation will likely include a mix of several strategies. The key is to experiment and find the combination that works for you.
So, what will you do?
What’s the next step you will take on your path to self-motivation?
Leave a comment and let me know.