How to Get Your Mojo Back at Work

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a project; writing a book, working on a scientific experiment, looking for a new job, or trying to close a business deal when you noticed your energy flagging? Not for an hour or two but days? You know the goal you want to accomplish but getting there seems far off. Your mind wanders, you check your email or Facebook, do a little online shopping, or just about anything but getting the job done.

Executives in career transition, the type of client I coach, face this problem frequently. Accustomed to being successful at almost everything they do, they find maintaining their motivation through a job search that could last months, daunting. This is true for most people who’ve taken on a challenging assignment that requires a significant amount of time to complete.

Academic research that often remains locked in the ivory tower offers insights in how to deal with this common problem. Below are some of the findings that can help you maintain your motivation during tough times.

Find Meaning in what you do- Research by Bailey and Madden as reported in MIT Sloan Management Review shows that meaningfulness to be the most important aspect of work to employees, trumping pay, rewards, recognition, and promotion opportunities. According to Bailey and Madden, people tended to experience their work as meaningful when they felt a sense of pride and achievement but more importantly when it mattered to others more than just to themselves.

Pathways, not just goals — A common reason why people lose their motivation is they don’t have a system or plan for achieving their outcome. The late psychologist, Rick Snyder, in his book The Psychology of Hope, explains that our willpower is in short supply. (Think about the number of people who make New Year resolutions and don’t follow through). Waypower, however, the plan for achieving a goal, is highly motivating because it provides a concrete path where progress can be celebrated along the way, fueling motivation. Make sure you outline the steps to reach your goal, so you know how far you’ve come and what remains.

Create Support System — Having the right type of people around you when trying to achieve a challenging outcome can mean the difference between success and failure. Studies show that individuals who create a support system, a mastermind group, personal board of directors or who work with a coach are better able to weather the ups and downs of motivation because they can call on their support network when they feel they are losing steam.

Reframe failure — Seeing failure as a learning experience rather than a show-stopper is another proven way to stay motivated. Although it never feels good to experience a setback, those people who can reframe their failure as a learning experience are better equipped and more resilient than those who don’t.

What strategies have helped you stay on track? Feel free to share them here.

About the author-Susan Peppercorn is an executive career coach and author of the soon to be published book, Ditch Your Inner Critic at Work: Evidence-Based Strategies to Thrive in Your Career. For more career advice or a free copy of 8 Steps to Creating a Personal Brand, click HERE.

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