Research, science and thousands of years of supervisors trying to get people to do things that they really don’t want to have taught us that it is really quite simple. People are motivated by either a carrot or a stick. Either they will do it because they want the rewards or they are afraid of the consequences.
The consequences of not doing something at work are often pretty evident. You will miss deadlines, maybe lose sales, and likely have your supervisor mad at you. These all strike at our basic fears which are actually based on our needs like the need for financial and emotional security or our unstated but very important need to belong and feel part of a group in society.
On the positive side the rewards are also evident. We get our material needs met through our compensation package and can continue to afford our food, clothing and shelter. We may also get our egos stroked when we do a good job which satisfies another hidden need, that we are recognized and acknowledged, particularly by our peers and superiors.
But haven’t you noticed that after a while at any particular task, function or job, all those basic motivators don’t really work anymore. You have your basic need met and you know you are good at your job and that your employer needs you. You are maxed out at the top of your pay levels and your employer can’t afford to raise your salary. You have used up or are tired of all the usual carrots and don’t fear the sticks anymore. What motivates you now?
Here are a few things that might get you back on the motivation train
Just Do it
Sometimes lack of motivation is actually inertia. You are just stuck like a car that is spinning its wheels and going nowhere. If you just relax and do the next thing that’s sitting right in front of you it may give you the boost that you need to get moving and motivated again.
If you are feeling unmotivated you probably look the part, anxious, grumpy or uncomfortable. Or all of the above. Change your look and your mood by trying to smile. It’s actually easier to smile than frown. It uses less muscles and energy and as a side benefit it’s contagious. At least you will be in a better mood.
You don’t have to finish your doctoral thesis in order to get your mojo back. Unless you are a PhD candidate. If that is the case get back to the books. Pick something that you think you can do quickly and easily and finish it completely. Once you have a small success you will have the confidence for bigger projects.
Stick with the Winners
Some people at work are more positive and motivated than others. Spend your coffee break with these people instead of Donnie or Debbie Downer. You need a boost of energy from the outside and you are more likely to get it from a positive rather than a negative source.
Help Someone Else
One of the amazing things about motivation or positive energy is that whenever you give some of yours away you get back even more in return. It’s the law of karma or the universe but it works. So the next time you have completely lost your motivation, give someone else who really needs it a pep talk about the benefits of self-motivation. You will be pleasantly surprised when you feel better and more motivated yourself afterwards.
There are many other ways to self-motivate. When I am particularly low on myself and feeling completely unmotivated I remember this quote by Martin Luther King Jr. “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
Mike Martin is a writer and the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People.
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