According to the Canada Human Resources Centre, “60% of employees are not engaged” at work, meaning they don’t necessarily feel emotionally committed to the organization they’re working for, nor to the organization’s mission, which is a matter that goes hand in hand with low levels of motivation and productivity. While this could be indicative of a wide variety of underlying issues, such as a lack of management training, weak leadership, poor incentives, or even boredom and complacency, the fact of the matter is that the majority of Canadians are feeling similarly in the workplace. For some, the answer may be quitting and searching for new opportunities, while for others, sticking with their current job until they can move on to other roles/different companies is the better option.
Either way, anyone can be at any point in their life and fall victim to a lack of career-oriented motivation.
Students, for example, may be temporarily taking any internship that comes their way in the interest of building up their résumés, or simply trying their hand at positions they’re uncertain of in order to determine what they would like to pursue later on. This phase of trial and error could potentially have them disliking what they’re doing, working at companies they wouldn’t align themselves with in the future, or wondering how they could ever spend the next 40+ years working.
Recent graduates, on the other hand, who no longer have milestones laid out for them (by their parents, or by school) must now set goals for themselves in terms of career advancement, and may be starting to feel stuck, or like they no longer have things to work towards/look forward to. They may even feel like the role they landed post-graduation is not on par with what they had imagined for themselves. Such a predicament can breed sentiments of lacking in both drive and ambition.
Those who don’t fall into either of the above categories and are simply working at 9-5 jobs counting down the hours until they can go home, or doubting their will to return the next day, also know what it’s like to feel unmotivated at work.
The following are 3 steps anyone can take to stay motivated at their job:
1. Set goals
It’s not about where you are, it’s about where you’re going. If you sit at your job with no personal goals in mind, all you’ll really be doing is completing the task at hand, then moving on to the next one until it’s time to go home (sounds boring, I know). However, if you sit at your job with dreams and aspirations in mind, your regular day-to-day tasks, regardless of what they are, will feel like steps leading you to a higher level in your career, which will give you more satisfaction, as well as the motivation to work harder and more efficiently.
As an intern, you’re not just schlepping things around, you’re making connections and developing the experience you need to get a job you love once you graduate. As a recent graduate in an entry-level position, you’re not just an uninspired junior employee with no direction, you’re an individual manoeuvering your way to that senior role you’ve been eyeing. Essentially, no matter what situation you’re in, make sure to get rid of the mindset that what you’re currently doing is what you’re going to be doing forever. Instead, use the envisionment of your ultimate goal to give you the will to continue on in your current setting.
*Pro-tip: map out your goals in order of what date you would like to achieve them by, then add said dates to the calendar in your phone/laptop. You can even set it up so that you get reminders when the dates are approaching. Another option could be downloading a countdown app, such as the one entitled “Countdown” by Sevenlogics, in order to be able to visualize the amount of time you have left before your deadline. This will help you become more forward thinking and allow you to get on the right track.
2. Take pride in your appearance
According to makeup artist and author Scott Barnes in an article he wrote for the New York Times, “Looking good leads to feeling good, feeling good leads to empowerment.” Basically, you as an individual have the power when it comes to lifting yourself up. If this can be achieved by taking better care of yourself and putting extra work into how you present yourself at your job, then that’s a solid route to take! You may find that doing so gives you the confidence you need to go the extra mile at work and seize opportunities that seem to be out of reach.
Keep in mind that executing this strategy does not necessitate wearing lots of makeup, spending copious amounts of money on the latest fashions or living your life by someone else’s standards by any means. The key is self-care, which could include an enhanced skin care routine, getting more sleep, exercising, drinking more water, picking out cool outfits in advance, doing your hair, or putting some highlighter on your cheekbones.
3. Plan after hours activities
According to an article written on Forbes.com, “Maintaining work-life balance helps reduce stress and helps prevent burnout in the workplace.” Burnout, it later explains, “can cause fatigue, mood swings, irritability and a decrease in work performance,” again, leading to losses in motivation and productivity.
If you know you’re going to have an amazing post-work sweat session at the gym, or that you’re going to go for late night drinks at a trendy new place with friends you haven’t seen in a while, you may find that you have an extra bounce in your step throughout the day and that it’s easier to put more effort in. Your identity is not solely defined by your day job, it’s also defined by what you do on your own time. Maybe in addition to entering data and sitting in on conference calls during the day, you set out time to play around with new recipes in the kitchen and blog about your travels at night. When you stop seeing your day as a sad routine of waking up, going to work, then going to sleep, and start seeing it as space to develop certain projects, or do fun things that you love, your work day won’t seem as daunting anymore.
All in all, motivation has everything to do with the work you put into planning. PLAN your trajectory, PLAN to look and feel your best, and PLAN to relax and have some fun! If you do all of these things, you will undoubtedly notice changes in how you feel at work!
Photo credit : Anastasia Dudka Photography
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