Leadership June 10, 2018

What to do when work sucks?

7 tips to get your sparkle back

By Susanne Barth, Publications Manager 

Did you actually accomplish anything at work today? It didn’t feel that way. So you went home frustrated and dissatisfied. The next morning doesn’t start much better. You want to pull the blanket over your head and stay at home. And that’s been going on for a while. You’re stuck in a motivational hole even though your job works for you and you like your company. It’s high time to fight against it or it will become a burden for your well-being and performance.

So how can you motivate yourself to get your sparkle back? Here are some tips which might help you:

1. Re-invent yourself from the outside

When you lose motivation without any clear reason for it, it can help to evaluate your life outside work. Is it pretty much non-existent? Have you become the job? This is quite common, but then suddenly it’s not enough anymore and work starts to feels methodical and uninspiring. Start by energising yourself outside of work. A new activity will breathe new life into you and give you a fresh perspective. So do something you’ve always wanted to do. Try a new hobby, join that class or sport. The energy you gain shifts your perception and helps you to appreciate work again.

2. Align the job with your next-stage goals

Has your job become routine? Have you lost sight of your next development goal and how your work relates to it? Think about what you want next in your (work) life and how your role prepares you for that goal. Should you look for additional training? Do you need to learn and practice a new skill?

Also think about how you can benefit from the knowledge inside your organisation. One idea could be to ask a colleague to reverse-mentor you in a competency needed to achieve your long-term goals. Establish a learning objective and a monthly schedule where you can absorb and apply the new skills to your current role. Deepening our learning is a real energy booster.

3. Share your role and expertise with others

You’re an expert in your field and what you do comes easily to you. However, a lot of people in the organisation don’t know what you’re doing. By sharing expertise with other colleagues or departments, you deepen your own knowledge and help others develop new skills.

An alternative would be creating videos about your work. Share them with new hires. They could also be used for your organisation’s employer branding activities.

Sharing your expertise and connecting to different people will make work more enjoyable again.

4. Take on the role of internal consultant

You can also create some excitement by taking on the role of an internal consultant. Where can you create improvements? What processes can be made easier? Take a step back and identify some of the key issues surrounding your role and then get ready to tackle them by getting the go-ahead from your manager if necessary.

5. Own your success diary

If you mainly focus on what isn’t working or what isn’t done yet, you kill your energy. One way to work actively against this negative habit is to write your own success diary. Start every morning by making a note of three achievements you made the previous day. This will remind you of the things you’ve tackled. And that’s exactly what you need to get into the right mood at the beginning of the day.

6. Create moments of happiness

Another simple exercise: write a list of 7 - 10 things which make you feel good. Think about how you can integrate some of them into your work or how you can wrap them around your work day. What you chose is your choice: biking to work, a lunch walk with a colleague, or a short call with a friend in the afternoon. This way you allow yourself some happy moments in between work, so afterwards you can return to work with focus and attention.

7. Appreciate what you have

Another simple trick is to free yourself from the pressure to have the perfect job. If you abandon your super high expectations and standards, you might realise that what you have is pretty good after all. Take a more pragmatic approach and remember that there are many people who don't love their job but are happy to do it for a fulfilling life outside of work. And it’s a refreshing perspective to just see it for what it is.

It’s natural for the enthusiasm for work to ebb and flow. However, we often dig our own motivational holes because we develop tunnel-vision and put a lot of stress on our shoulders. Stepping back, thinking about what you’ve already achieved, and making some changes which challenge your traditional way of thinking are often enough to make the job more enjoyable again. However, when the short phase of demotivation turns into a very long phase, you probably need to take different actions.

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