Making Things Happen: How to Stay Motivated at Work

“It is through motivation that individuals are able to achieve great things in life.” 

In helping readers understand motivation, author King Kew wrote this in the book “Motivation: Top Secrets Successful People Use to Achieve Greater Success”.

We wake up every day, maybe grab a cup of coffee, put on a nice shirt then go to work, even if we don’t feel like it; maybe we came down with a cold or the weather is just too nice out and we rather take our kids to the beach. For whatever reason (such as a paycheck), we show up.

When we get to the office, we go through motions.

Turn on the computer, check our email, flip through missed calls. Maybe grab a second cup of coffee. Being there because you have to and being there because you want to are two remarkably different things.

Kew wrote: “Any time people say they are motivated to do something it means that they have the desire and are more than willing to actually do it, crediting motivation for “the great achievements and success of many.”

Related Article: Follow the Leader: 7 Employee Motivation and Retention Strategies Used by Tech Giants

Are you the superstar employee who sets goals and exceeds them every time, or do you do the bare minimum to get by, rarely appreciating your job feeling like the work you do doesn’t matter and so you complain often? If you’re the latter, it’s not completely your fault. The Harvard Business Review found that company culture shapes employee motivation, noting the six main reasons people work: play, purpose, potential, emotional pressure, economic pressure, inertia.

People who are motivated cultivate enthusiasm and have more zest for life, according to Kew. Sixty-three percent of employees are not engaged, showing a lack of motivation, states Gallup’s “State of Global Workplace Report.”

Asking why should we care about being motivated is like asking what our purpose for living is. 

Motivated people have a sense of purpose, are more focused, creative and resilient.

Summer is here and lets face it, you probably rather be on vacation than at work, but something (or a few things) keep you from turning off your alarm clock and staying in bed every morning. 

How to Motivate Yourself (Even When the Tropics Are Calling Your Name)

1. Surround yourself with happy, motivated people.

If you’ve read any of my other articles, you may have noticed I’m into mindfulness and positive thinking. Along with those mindsets, I’m a big believer in the philosophy that the people around you affect your mood.

According to the Washington Post, the effects of peer pressure are more powerful than we thought. Reporter Jeff Guo who wrote the article used this example:  In honors classrooms, kids were 25 percent more likely to sign up if they knew their peers would be judging them. In non-honors classrooms, kids were 25 percent less likely to sign up.

If you surround yourself with positive, upbeat people, how could you be a Debbie Downer? It won’t be so easy. In the office, changing who you are near the majority of the day (thanks to good old assigned seating) may not be possible, but outside of the office, the choice is yours.

Psychology Today says: Emotions are contagious. The author of the article, Sherrie Bourg Carter Psy.D., went on to explain that as humans “we are innately vulnerable to ‘catching’ other people’s emotions,” and that when “subjects” catch positive emotions from the people around, they’re “more likely to be viewed by others and view themselves as more cooperative and competent.” 

Related Article: Beyond the Clock: The Benefits of Highly Motivated Employees

Spending time with people who are already happy can even make us feel happier, give us more energy, and reduce stress. Chose your company wisely; “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said.

What kind of person are you going to be?

2.  Prioritize your tasks at home and in business.

More recently I was reading an article written by paralegal Erin Dodd titled “Finding a Little Motivation.” The article turned a light bulb on in my head.

Dodd made a great point that’s so important for people to realize: “Prioritizing oneself doesn’t have to be a selfish motivation; it is a necessity. After all, if we don’t prioritize ourselves then how will we be able to be healthy enough to place the needs of everyone and everything we care so much about at the top?”

Sometimes I feel guilty about not doing work for my full-time job outside of normal business hours (even though it is by no means a requirement). There are so many books I’d like to read and webinars I’d like to view to in order to improve my craft but there simply isn’t enough time in a day. When I am off the clock, I have other things that need my attention. I want to do more work outside of work but as Dodd suggests, prioritizing life is key something I was forced to do after overextending myself.

3.  Celebrate wins.  

Each time I cross a decent sized project off my business to-do list or get ahead on my tasks, a huge accomplishment for a very busy office, I give myself a mental pat on the back. The Harvard Business Review stated: “If a person is motivated and happy at the end of the workday, it’s a good bet that he or she made some progress.” The article also noted that on days in which people made progress, they were “more intrinsically motivated by an interest in and enjoyment of the work itself.”

Celebrate your wins. Just gave a presentation? Handled a difficult client with grace? Got through the workday without getting food on your new shirt? Go ahead, give yourself a pat on the back. However small these wins may seem, they can boost your inner work life tremendously, says the Harvard Business Review.

4. Set goals and form healthy habits to achieve them.

A study on habits suggested: goals can direct habits by motivating repetition that leads to habit formation and by promoting exposure to cues that trigger habits. So this final tip I leave you with is something I took away from Kew’s motivation book I quoted earlier: train yourself to choose a new healthy habit and do it every day, even when you don’t feel like it.

Related Article: Goodbye, Excuses: How To Stop Being Lazy And Get Motivated

In setting goals, ask yourself:

  • What have I been focusing a lot of my attention on that is causing me tension or pain?
  • Which three people inspire me and what about them do I admire?
  • What things do I keep putting off?
  • If I were to flash forward five, 10, or 20 years, what would I regret not doing?

As you achieve your goals, refer back to tip three, celebrate.

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