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Last Updated on August 27, 2019

How to Get Motivated to Go to Work Every Single Day

How to Get Motivated to Go to Work Every Single Day

According to a recent Gallop poll, 85% of workers worldwide hate their jobs. These dissatisfied employees are described by Gallop as being emotionally disconnected from their workplaces, leaving a mere 15% who feel “engaged” by their jobs.[1]

These sobering statistics mean a huge number of people around the world are waking up each day dreading going to work, and wondering “how do I get to work like a zombie…”

What is it that makes us so unhappy with our work? Why are so many of us feeling dissatisfied with and disconnected from our jobs, or worse, hating them?

In this article, we will look into the reasons why so many of us dread to go to work, and how to get motivated to work.

Why Do You Drag Yourself To Work?

There are a number of obvious factors that might contribute to hating one’s job, such as:

  • toxic company culture
  • unreasonable demands on time
  • safety concerns
  • lack of opportunity
  • poor pay
  • lack of respect
  • bad leadership

And what about those of us who simply feel unsatisfied or bored with our work?

Choosing for the Wrong Reasons

J.T. O’Donnell, Founder and CEO of WorkItDaily.com, has been studying job dissatisfaction for over 15 years, and sees a common thread – our addiction to praise. She believes many of us are hard-wired to seek out the “fleeting rush of validation” from impressing others rather than lasting happiness .

As a result, she believes many choose careers and job paths solely for the momentary payoff of being liked, respected or approved of, instead of focusing on what actually makes them happy.

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O’Donnell believes that in order for us feel passionate, engaged and happy in our jobs, we must first learn to focus on discovering and developing a more lasting intrinsic motivation for our work.

Our Primitive Brain: Short-Term Pleasure Motivator

The fact is that the vast majority of us need to work in order to earn a living. One might assume then that our basic drive to survive would be enough to motivate us each day, that some aspect of our primitive brain would kick in to push us out of bed and out the door.

Unfortunately, the primitive brain is very much like an impatient child – it wants instant gratification, not some lofty long-term reward. When emotions regulated by our limbic brain get involved in a decision, we’re much more likely to go for the short-term feel-good decision over some future payoff that the primitive brain can’t see or feel.

It’s the limbic brain that sets us up for our addiction to praise, and to other impulsive decisions in which we choose instant pleasure over future enduring happiness.

For instance, if we wake up dreading our work day, and the option of staying home and playing hooky is on the table, our limbic brain will tell us how wonderful we’ll feel if we call in sick, completely disregarding that nagging future possibility of losing our job.

So how do we override our animal brain long enough to cultivate the proper incentive, the intrinsic and lasting motivation to get up each day and head to work?

How to Motivate Yourself to Work

Luckily, our more primitive brains went on to develop the neocortex, that cognitive thinking part responsible for language, creativity, and executive functions. It’s this part of our brain which allows us to override the impulses of our limbic system and imagine the longer-term consequences of our actions and decisions.

We then use these imagined future outcomes, as well as our other thoughts, as motivation in our day-to-day choices.

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But as we heard earlier from J.T. O’Donnell, not all motivation styles are particularly effective or even beneficial. For the best chance at cultivating lasting happiness and satisfaction in our lives, we need to create helpful, positive and effective self-motivation strategies that serve us well in both the short and long-term.

One step is to first look at what makes for ineffective or unhealthy motivation styles. In the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), there are several ways in which we can identify and eliminate these types of self-motivation strategies, thus leaving room for us to adopt a new and more successful approach.

Ineffective Motivation Strategies

Essentially, we have two basic motivators for our choices and decisions. We are either choosing to move away from an imagined negative outcome, or to move towards an imagined positive outcome.

While the avoidance of a negative outcome can be quite a powerful motivation for changing behaviors in the short-term (i.e. ‘if I eat this cake, I’ll get fat and no one will love me’ or ‘if I don’t go into work today, I’ll be fired’), they don’t tend to be very effective in the long-term. They also tend to create feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety and powerlessness.

Unhelpful motivation strategies can be identified by paying attention to your inner dialogue in those situations in which you tend to have difficulty motivating yourself, or where you struggle with procrastination, avoidance, or fear of failure. In NLP, ineffective motivation strategies fall into one of the following four styles:[2]

The Negative Motivator

This person procrastinates and only becomes motivated to take action after imagining some horrible consequence of waiting any longer. ‘If I don’t finish this report by Monday, I’ll be fired for sure.’

The Dictator

This person motivates themselves by issuing themselves ‘orders’ to act, usually in a stern, commanding, and often critical voice. They’ll use words like ‘must’, ‘should’ and ‘have to’. ‘Stop being lazy and get your act together – you have to finish this report on time.’

The “Overwhelmer”

People with this motivation style imagine the entire task or goal they are facing as one global mass of effort that must be accomplished all at once, instead of in manageable chunks.

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They then become overwhelmed and discouraged from even taking the first step. ‘I’m going to have to write a full report every Monday for the rest of my career. How am I going to do this every week?’

The “Gloomy Imagineer”

This person imagines themselves doing some unpleasant or overwhelming task, and hating it all the way through.

They imagine only how bad they will feel throughout the process, rather than imagining any sort of positive outcome. ‘I hate writing these reports. I’m going to have use the weekend to finish it, and miss the game on Sunday. My weekend is going to be ruined.’

The problem with these motivation strategies is that they often fail, or backfire. The person may feel so overwhelmed by the task that they don’t even want to start it; they may subconsciously sabotage their efforts out of defiance or resistance; or they may complete the task, but end up feeling stressed and resentful as a result.

Effective Ways to Regain Motivation

If you’ve identified some of these negative or unhelpful motivation styles in yourself, now you can take steps to replace them with more effective, and far more pleasant, strategies.

Here are some basic guidelines for creating the best motivation strategies, according to NLP:[3]

1. Make Your Internal Dialogue Pleasant and Compelling

Be your own cheerleader, not dictator. Use positive words of possibility and encouragement such as ‘I can’, ‘I want’, ‘I desire’ and ‘I will’ instead of judging terms like should and have to.

Include a mental or physical representation of the successfully completed task. Imagine the positive consequences associated with its completion.

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2. Chunk it Down

In NLP, this means breaking a large and often overwhelming task down into smaller, more manageable steps.

3. Find Your Intrinsic Motivations

Finding work that truly satisfies us is not always easy. It can mean coming to sometimes painful realizations about our past motivations and compromises, and making changes accordingly.

But making the effort to discover and develop more intrinsic motivations for going to work, such as personal fulfillment, meaning and passion, will serve us far better than any external pressures or expectations can.

Final Thoughts

Developing smart, effective, and positive motivation strategies can help us make good decisions that serve both our short and long-term happiness.

If you’re finding it difficult to drag yourself out of bed in the morning because you dread going to work, and a change in career or workplace is not an option just yet, try taking a look at your internal dialogue and making changes to how you motivate yourself.

You’ll be amazed at the results you can achieve when you become your own best supporter of your goals and dreams.

More About Staying Motivated

Featured photo credit: Viktor Forgacs via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Mike Bundrant

Co-Founder @inlpcenter, which offers NLP training and life coach certification to students in over 70 countries.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

How to Get Unstuck in Life and Live a More Fulfilling Life

How to Get Unstuck in Life and Live a More Fulfilling Life

We all know the feeling—when you sense that you are not completely happy and fulfilled with your life—things are not where and how you envisage them to be. You go through the motions everyday, angry with yourself and the universe for throwing you such an unfavorable dice.

You can’t help yourself but feel a perennial envy towards those who are smiled upon by karma—the lucky individuals who seem to have the Midas touch and everything they undertake ends up with success, recognition and greater opportunities. Life must be so exiting.

Unlike yours.

We call this sensation many names: I’ve hit a wall; I’m not making progress; I’m stagnant; I’m moving in loops; Something is off in my life; I’m off balance.

Or simply: feeling stuck.

In this article, we’ll look into the reasons behind this feeling and how to get unstuck in life and live a more fulfilling life.

Is Being Stuck Really Such a Bad Thing?

Is it really so bad to be stuck in the status quo? After all, not everyone can be a super-star, right? What’s wrong with living a quiet life, with not many turns and twists and just going with the flow?

True—there is not much fun in this, but there is not disappointment, anxiety, stress and ill-ambition either. Life is easy and uncomplicated.

So why do we keep hearing over and over from the greats that staying is one place is not a good thing?

Tony Robbins gives us an elegantly simple answer to this question:

“If you are not growing, you are dying. “

“Progress equals happiness,” he says. “That ’s because reaching a goal is satisfying but only temporarily. Life is not about achieving the goals, life is about who you become in pursuit of those goals.”[1]

There you have it—staying in one place makes us unhappy.

We all know that the comfort zone can be great. It’s like a warm old blanket you wrap yourself around on a cold winter night, cuddled in front of your favorite TV show.

But just because something feels comfortable, does it mean it’s ok to stick to it forever?

Progress equals happiness, remember.

You may not even fully be aware of the small voice in the back of your mind that’s been bugging you, but you better learn to listen carefully—because you may wake up one day and realize that your productive life is gone and you haven’t achieved many of the things you wanted for yourself.

Pretty gloomy picture, indeed.

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Simply put, what the wise men advise us of is not just some self-help fluff for them to gain more popularity or sell more books. It is true—as you will learn below—that not moving forward, not even making the effort to do better or become better—even if you don’t always succeed in these endeavors—is a mental demise and a waste of your potential.

The Common “Stucks”

There are many reasons why you may feel stagnant in your life—some may be completely out of your control even. The main thing, though, is to be able to identify the reasons and then try to take some remedial actions.

But it starts with an awareness—because you can’t fix what you don’t know about, right?

Here are some of the main contributors to your feelings of stuck-ness:

You Lack Purpose in Your Life, or the “Why” of What You Do

Simon Sinek, the best-selling author and motivational speaker tells us in his famous TED talk that every successful endeavor—be it related to an organization, your career or personal life needs to begin with defining the “Why.” You need to be able to explain to yourself why you do what you do and what drives you.

It is the thing (s) that gives meaning and inspires you to wake up in the morning and to want to take on the world. It is your reason for being.

You Like the Status Quo

You may like your comfort zone. After all, it’s…well, comfortable. But as we established, the good old blanket is not necessarily going to make us fulfilled in life. You can watch so many TV shows wrapped in it before you get bored.

We, humans, still carry our ancestors’ fighting instincts—for hunting, for self-preservation, for taking actions to make our lives better. Inaction is not what made the mankind create all the innovations we enjoy today.

The Good-Old Fear of Failure and of the Unknown

Admittedly, it’s not an emotion to be taken lightly—it can be quite real and powerful for many of us.

According to a Gallup poll done a while ago among U.S. teenagers, the fear of being a failure and not succeeding in life was at number four.[2] More specifically, this feeling was described as “making mistakes that will mess up my life,” “not measuring up,” “not leaving a mark.”

So, fear can be a powerful paralyzer and can elicit a “safe-mode” response—i.e. stuck-ness.

Your Crowd

We all know the famous adage that we are the average of the five people we rub shoulders with. So, if your in-crowd is similarly stuck as you are, although it may be consoling at times, you won’t be motivated to make much progress yourself.

It’s called a social proof bias—if everyone around you is doing (or not doing) something, then it is ok for you to follow suit.

Comparisons to Others

While comparisons are not always bad, according to the Social Comparison Theory,[3] they have to be handled with caution.

Faring against others can make you very unhappy with yourself. Failing to recognize that your path is not the same as others’ and that there are many ways to get to an end-point (goal) can be very discouraging to taking the first step to unstuck-ness.

Personality

Our temperaments can also contribute to a sense of feeling stuck. For instance, you may be more of a passive, dreamy kind of person who prefers observing to taking action, pensiveness to gregariousness, solitude to venturing out in the world.

That is, you have more of a slow-burn personality vs. a fiery one—therefore, it takes you longer to contemplate all alternatives before taking the plunge.

And that’s ok. But you need to recognize that this may also be the reason why you are not progressing as fast or as much as you would like towards your goals.

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And while changing who you are is hard (impossible even, according to some psychologists), there are things that can be done to make it so much better for yourself, which I will discuss a bit later.

A final point to note here is that, paradoxically, it is possible to feel both stuck and unstuck at the same time. For instance, you can have a great career, but your family life may feel a bit stale, or wise versa.

As our personal and professional lives constantly fight for the top spot on our attention list, the feeling of stuck-ness may also depend on where you are on your life’s trajectory.

For someone who is younger and single, stagnation may be felt more vividly in their professional lives, as opposed to someone who is in their mid-life, where family takes priority—such individuals may not feel as down-hearted that they are not progressing quickly enough professionally.

How to Get Unstuck in Life

The neat thing about your path to becoming unstuck is that it follows the so-called Principle of Equifinality,[4] which states that the end state can be reached by many means.

It’s not just one thing that can help you to start moving forward again. There are many avenues you can explore to find out what works for you and with your own story and personality.

1. Show up and Be Willing to Do the Work

Woody Allen has famously said that “80% of success is showing up.” That is, you need to begin with the right motivation and willingness to take action towards unstucking.

You must want to improve your current state. And you must follow through.

2. Self-Reflection

Spend some time alone. You need to figure out why you are stuck—that is, what is the root of your discontent. Meditation may help here too. But this step is essential:

Packing on some self-knowledge and awareness on why you are where you are in life can help you discover a whole new universe of ideas on how to make it better for yourself.

It is as the saying goes: Identifying the problem is half of the solution.

Start to do self-reflection with the help of this article: The Power of Self-Reflection: Ten Questions You Should Ask Yourself

3. Break a Sweat

There is an avalanche of research on the benefits of exercising for the body and the mind. The latest research tells us that if you want to put your mind in the best possible focus shape, a 15-minute jog will do the job better than 15 minutes of relaxation and meditation.[5] It also clears your thinking, improves your attention spans, and can generally make you feel like a “brand new person.”

4. Find a Purpose

As I already touched-upon, the “Why” behind your actions is a prime driver of self-progress. If you link your goals—be them personal or professionals—to a “bigger-than-me” aspiration, then it will be so much easier to convince yourself to keep moving.

According to recent research,[6] we all have a specific purpose-seeking style—similar to our own way of writing, dancing or speaking.

There are four types or “Whys”—creative, prosocial, financial and personal recognition. The prosocial approach to finding meaning, though, which is based on kindness and compassion towards ourselves and others, is the best one in the long-run—it was shown to lead to greater caring, integrity and personal growth.

Here’s How to Find Purpose in Life and Make Yourself a Better Person.

5. Find a Passion

It’s barely a secret that if you enjoy something, you will want to do more of it and it won’t feel like an obligation. You will have an internal motivation to keep going despite setbacks, despite the stress or the tiredness you may experience at times.

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So, find what thrills you and makes you come alive and strive to become better, the best even, at it. The more progress you make, the more confidence you will have that you can apply the same passion and dedication to all other parts of your life that feel stagnant.

Learn How to Find Your Passion and Live a Fulfilling Life.

6. Nudge Yourself

The Nudge Theory[7] has been around for a while and has shown some wonderful results in positively influencing people’s behaviors—from making us conserve more energy, to improving the payment rates of fines, to making job-seekers more engaged and involved.

Small things as daily reminders in terms of micro-goals you can set on your phone, for instance, can have a profound favorable effect on becoming unstuck.

Nudging can also help overcome some of these personality traits we talked about—like passiveness or acute proneness to procrastination.

7. Seek Different Experiences

Even if you are in a happy relationship, you may still feel stuck—i.e. you may be unfulfilled, uninspired, or bored even of doing identical things over and over. The same rings true for your professional life.

The end-point is that you need to feed your brain different experiences if you want to get unstuck. If you repeat more of the same thing, you will end up with more or less similar outcomes. Change requires taking the path less trodden, experimenting, learning new ways, seeing new places, reading, travelling—it’s an endless list, really, to personal growth.

According to research covered in Psychology Today,[8]

“Activities that lead us to feel uncertainty, discomfort, and even a dash of guilt are associated with some of the most memorable and enjoyable experiences of people’s lives. Happy people, it seems, engage in a wide range of counterintuitive habits that seem, well, downright unhappy.”

8. Leave Behind the Things That Are Not Constructive for You

Arianna Huffington put it in a great way:[9]

“You can complete a project by dropping it.”

Assessing the things that make you feel stagnant is important. But equally valuable is to recognize that just because it may be hard or even impossible to get something that you really want, it doesn’t mean that you’ve failed or that you are necessarily stuck.

Maybe it’s simply not your thing. For instance, you may want to become a professional golfer. You practice and practice but you can’t quite reach the level of Tiger Woods that you aspire to. Perhaps it’s time to take stock of your life and shift your focus.

9. Compare Wisely

Comparisons can often make you feel down and create a sense of stagnation, which may not always be valid. You must realize that your pace of progress differs from your friends’, neighbours’, siblings or even significant others’.

Just because you are not a millionaire by the age of 30, or haven’t started your own business, or written your third bestseller yet, doesn’t mean that you are not moving forward.

So, mind how you measure your progress and your state of stuck-ness. Your perceptions may differ from reality.

Besides, it’s never ever too late to start things over! Here’s how:

How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

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10. Ask for Help

Finally, remember that you don’t have to do it all alone. If you feel stuck in your personal life, you can speak to your close ones and find a solution together. Maybe they feel the same way.

At work—raise your hand, speak to your manager, volunteer to do things that can help you learn and become more valuable.

You don’t have to come up with all the answers right now. The most important thing, going back to the first idea, is to be willing to make a change.

When Is Enough Enough?

Seeking progress is a great thing. Who wouldn’t want to become a better version of themselves after all?

But the pursuit of growth should be handled with caution. It can become very addictive and sometimes even be counterproductive.

It’s true—you may experience a “runner’s high” and success can make you overflow with dopamine, but the constant chase of “more” can toss you into a never-ending spinning wheel.

You will never be happy with the status quo and won’t accept things as they are—which, naturally, can open a Pandora box of mental health issues.

That is, too much of a self-improvement drive may leave you unable to enjoy your life, to be fully present in the Now and to appreciate the person that you are.

And this is not necessarily a good thing.

So, should you strive to improve yourself, so that feel unstuck and free again? Absolutely.

But remember to take a breather and be grateful for what you have.

Summing It All Up

The feeling of being satisfied or unsatisfied with one’s life is very personal. Similar to its cousins—happiness and success, it is best measured by and depends on our individual histories, personalities and paths—i.e. my trajectory is different than yours and what makes me feel content may not create the same feeling for you.

For instance, you may be happy to be in a position where you help others and their gratitude is sufficient enough reason for you to wake up in the morning. But for someone else, this situation may create a sense of stuck-ness.

The main take-away here is that you shouldn’t compare your story to anyone else’s because you may end up feeling constantly stuck. And this, speaking from experience, is not the best place in the world to be.

Progress is great, but don’t forget that your life is here and now.

So, try to enjoy yourself some too, while making your grandiose plans to take on the world, will you please?

Featured photo credit: Camila Cordeiro via unsplash.com

Reference

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