How To Tackle A Lack of Motivation At Work
You’ve probably heard that half of life is showing up. But I’ve often thought, “What about the other half?” When you show up and still nothing works out? Some days it can easily feel like the world is against you or, worse, doesn’t care at all.
I went to a women’s networking event last week and suggested to a small group that maybe one solution to a lack of motivation was to pivot – much like how entrepreneurs approach product development. A venture capitalist politely told me that it wasn’t relevant.
I didn’t pushback then, but I realize now that that dualistic thinking is what’s drawn some of us into a corner. If we don’t believe in pivoting in our communications, style, or career, then of course we’re stuck with only one option: work (fill-in-the-blank)% harder than everybody else.
This kind of blind perseverance without flexibility is a formula for…tiredness. And a real downer for motivation. In fact, it’s the one I hear the most as a mentor.
So where do we go from here? Here are some suggestions.
Let yourself loose – who or what can you blame for feeling this way? Write it out. I’m guessing some or all of the reasons are some derivative of rejection.
Studies have shown that people who feel unwanted are less motivated to work. It’s at these crucial times that we must lick our wounds and find refuge among family and friends. People who remind us of how valued we are. If none of those people are available, book a mentor with us. We’re here to help.
Once you can pinpoint the source, then you can acknowledge it for what it is. And be reminded that you can handle it.
Put another way: do something you want to do. When I was embedded in Corporate America, I took classes in photography and pursued a certificate in screenwriting at night. I never made any of these into a side hustle, but both have informed my creative work today.
The time spent studying and spending time with other like-minded people make the day-to-day earning worthwhile.
Attend a meetup, call some close friends to vision-board with you, or read a biography of someone you admire.
Did you eat breakfast this morning? Are you exercising? What would your grandmother say about your lifestyle?
Enough said. You know what to do here.
Lack of motivation can sometimes be the adverse effect of overwhelm. A project can feel so big that you don’t even know where to start. The most practical advice I’ve gotten is to start a Trello board with three categories: To Do, Doing, and Done.
[Read more: Dealing With Overwhelm At Work]
Then make a card for every task for that project no matter how small. The smaller, the better – as you finish each task move the card from To Do to Doing to Done. I can attest that the visual progress alone is a great motivator.
Another motivation killer is the drudgery that comes with doing something you don’t want to do. So, if you can, leave it for later! At the same time, challenge yourself with an action aligned with your mood. The key here is to have your mood work for you instead of against you.
If you can’t find the words to write that email, try walking over to that person’s desk to chat. Most of us don’t get up from working heads down enough, and an unexpected invitation is all the excuse we need to stand up.
Imagine The Results
There’s a deadening effect to feeling like nothing I do matters. Whether it’s doing that job search or calling your sister, write out by hand a list of all the tasks you have to do. Then next to each one, write out what will happen after you do it…followed by what will happen if you don’t.
This page will psych yourself into realizing how much good can come out of doing something. Or, at the very least, help you prioritize.
Bet On Yourself
Nothing like making things a little interesting. Wager dinner with your boss if you get the budget done a week early. Reward yourself with a long weekend after a project is complete. Or treat yourself to a Netflix binge – after.
Whenever I lose a sense of purpose, I watch this clip from Gladiator:
I don’t know what it is about this movie. Good overcoming evil? Strength and honor? The Hans Zimmer score? I just know it pumps me up and reminds me that life is too short to stop moving.
“What we do in life echoes in eternity.”
-Maximus from Gladiator