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Published on January 22, 2020

How to Figure Out What Motivates You at Work

How to Figure Out What Motivates You at Work

Work is called work for a reason. No matter how passionate you are about a certain field, you are inevitably going to run into aspects of your career that you are not fond of. If you are in a current position because of the money or security it provides, you may be even more impacted by the truth stated above.

That said, the mindset and approach that we take when we approach anything in life is what dictates our overall experience. If I come to work feeling drained and not wanting to do anything, I am not going to get anything out of my job. If I find motivators in my job that remind me of why I am doing it, however, I am going to fare much better.

The problem that many face when they are trying to find motivation around them is the actual act of becoming aware of these motivators. Awareness is always the first step to change (and it is also the hardest). If you are trying to figure out what motivates you at work, continue reading below for further insight into how you can become a happier, more productive worker!

Step 1. Take a Moment to Consider Why You Are in Your Current Position

When we work somewhere for a significant amount of time, the daily grind can become something that we do on autopilot. When we do work in this mode, we end up losing ourselves along the way.

It is only when we approach work with the mindset of providing value for both the employer as well for the customer that we are able to gain some sense of achievement from it.

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For example, let’s pretend that you are working a basic scheduling job. On the surface it may seem boring to you, causing you to lose focus and energy. When you take a closer look, however, your job is quite important.

People rely on you to make sure that they are getting enough hours, that they can get important days off when they need it, and that the organization runs smoothly, even in times of crisis. You are in charge of all of these aspects, and this ultimately provides value for those around you.

Ask yourself, why do I have this job?

Is this a job that you love doing? Does it involve work that you are passionate about? Is there anything that you really enjoy about this position? If you can remind yourself of why you took the job in the first place, you can find that spark to do better work again. [1]

If you are in a job solely for financial reasons, you can still find the motivation to work (even though it may be a little more difficult). We will dive deeper into this concept in the next section.

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Step 2. Map Out Your Future

In some instances, our future is more exciting than our current situation, and that’s okay! The good news is that you can leverage your future to your advantage by using it as motivation to work harder.

How?

Consider each job that you hold or will hold as a stepping stone on the path towards your ultimate goal. While your current job may not be super exciting or fulfilling, it serves a purpose. Whether that be in the form of building your resume, teaching you new skills, helping you save the money to look for a new job, or providing extra money on the side, there is a purpose for everything!

In order to benefit from the job that you have and find motivation in it, take a moment to consider the points above. Then, build a plan for the future.

To give you an example, let’s imagine that your path looks like this:

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  • My current job as an office assistant will allow me to save money and learn important skills that I can use in a position above my own.
  • Once I finish my degree this summer, I can apply for a better job in an entry-level marketing position, where certain office-based skills will come in handy.
  • While working in this entry-level position, I can further develop my skills on the side and ask for new projects that meet my needs and capture my interest.
  • Then, (continue your road map…)

Not only does a comprehensive plan remind you of how your current position serves you but, it keeps you excited in future positions as well.

Remember, however, that goals only work when they are specific, set to a deadline, and broken down into smaller, more achievable tasks. This will keep you highly motivated during work also![2]

Step 3. Take Things Slowly and Set Reminders Around You to Keep Your Motivation Levels High

Two important things to remember when you are trying to stay motivated is to avoid overwhelm and to keep yourself reminded about why you should be motivated in the first place.

When it comes to work, many people make their jobs much larger and worse than they actually are. You can avoid falling into this cycle of avoidance and despair by reminding yourself that every day is a new day. You can change your schedule around to add in new and exciting things, and focus on your life outside of work.

While work is an important part of your life, it doesn’t have to be draining or boring.

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The second point above can be achieved by setting small reminders throughout your workplace. If you are someone who is already satisfied with the work that they do and the value that they provide, you can make small notes around your workspace that remind you of the services that you offer and how they help others.

If you are someone who is not necessarily happy with the position that you currently hold, you can instead use tools such as goal sheets, calendars, and vision boards to help you keep track of your progress as you move toward your ideal position.

However, make sure to not fall into the trap of resenting your job or acting out. This will only make getting motivated at your job harder!

The Bottom Line

Motivation is always possible to find in any situation. All it takes a little effort, some gratitude, and the ability to see why your job adds value to your life and to the lives of others.

If you have been having difficulty finding what motivates you at work, use the step-by-step guide above to figure out why you are in your job, where you want to go afterward, and how you can leverage this information to your advantage. What you get out of your situation is ultimately up to how you choose to perceive it!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Dau via unsplash.com

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Dylan Buckley

Dylan is Lifehack's Motivation Expert specializing in self-development, with extensive experience working for life coaches and startups.

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Last Updated on August 10, 2020

10 Principles for Success to Live Your Dream Life

10 Principles for Success to Live Your Dream Life

Are you stressed out and overwhelmed, wishing you had more time to do the things that really matter? Are you ready to do something better, something special in your life or your career?

If you’re ready to do what you want in life, then the 10 principles of success are what you need to follow.

You were born with a gift that no one else in the world can express like you. When you dance to your own music, you naturally develop your innate abilities and excel in work and life. You are a total rock star. But when you live someone else’s idea of who you should be, it throws off your groove.

Many people—maybe you—stopped following their dreams way too early in life because their talents were ignored, minimized, or shamed. They didn’t have the chops to win an American Idol competition or nab an Olympic gold medal, so they stopped expressing their inborn gifts altogether.

You don’t need to be an award winner to rock your life. Living your dream life is about discovering your superpowers and feeling vibrant and joyful when you use them. It’s about owning what makes you unique and finding like-minded people to support you.

Here are 10 success principles to help you live a rich and rewarding life on your terms that have worked with thousands of people in my workshops and will work for you, too.

1. Get a Hobby to Move Closer to Your Dreams

If you never became a professional dancer or a world-renowned author, it does NOT mean you should stop dancing or writing! These activities make you come alive, even if you “only” do them as favorite pastimes.

Engaging in a hobby is one of the most important success principles you can follow to move closer to your dreams.

When you try something creative for the first time or in a long while, you begin to see opportunities at work and in life that you were unaware of before. You also feel happier and more energized, according to a recent study from New Zealand.[1]

Some of my most burned-out executive clients reinvigorated their careers by discovering a creative outlet that refueled them after the workday ended. Research at San Francisco State University shows that having a hobby lowers stress and helps you succeed at work.[2]

So, give yourself permission to try new things and revisit old passions you gave up long ago. Setting aside just one hour a week for personal exploration can significantly change your life.

Who knows? Your creative outlet could transform into a thriving business or lead to a new profession down the road.

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2. Focus on Your Strengths, Not Your Weaknesses

Did you know that you are more likely to succeed when you develop your natural strengths rather than work on your weaknesses? The problem is that you probably don’t know where your true talents lie.

Here are a few options to help you discover your unique strengths. You can:

  • Take the VIA Character Strengths Survey[3]
  • Try Gallup’s CliftonStrengths Assessment[4]
  • Answer a few Superpower Questions

Once you understand what makes you tick, you can use these skills at work and your personal life to get more done in less time. If you boost your unique abilities through practice and study, you can accelerate your career and become a leader in a field that matters to you. It’s worth investing in yourself this way.

3. Jumping off a Cliff is NOT Required

Here’s the deal: most people are too afraid to change. When participants first come to my workshops, they tell me they have mouths to feed, bills to pay, and fear that if they follow their dreams, someone will get hurt.

The old saying “leap and the net shall appear” does not comfort them. Because they are hesitant to plunge into the unknown, they believe their only option is to stay put where they are in life. Can you relate?

You do not have to sacrifice the life you have now to start a new one. I was a psychology professor by day and singer by night for years before I transitioned into a full-time music career.

Just take a little time out each week to do what enlivens you through a hobby, volunteer work, etc. Get a feel for it.

Is it what you really want? If so, increase the time you spend doing it and make the transition when the time feels right.

4. Give Your Inner Critic Some Love

The main culprit that keeps you from stepping outside your comfort zone and getting the life of your dreams is KCRP or K-CRAP – the radio station that plays 24/7 in your head. The moment you try to do something interesting with your life it slaps you down with such chart-topping killer hooks as “Who do you think you are?” and “You’ll never be good enough!”.

Have you ever noticed that KCRP’s mean-spirited DJ sounds like your parents, teachers, bosses, and other authority figures who shut you down creatively? These folks don’t need to stifle you any longer (although they often still do) because your inner critic does it for them. That keeps you stuck in a rut.

To break free, try thinking of this DJ as a gruff old grandfather who gives you crap to keep you safe. Remember, this grumpy grandpa is woefully out of touch with the times. So, his stern opinions don’t really matter much, do they? Give him a pat on the back for his good intentions, and put your focus back on what makes you come alive.

This success principle will give you the courage to venture into the unknown where you can dance to the beat of your own drummer.

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5. Embrace Your Inner Self

Many of us don’t go after our dreams because we’re afraid folks will find out how odd or strange we are. But our little eccentricities often turn out to be our greatest strengths. Yes, it’s good to be quirky.

Odds are, you lost track of your true passions and talents before you were even old enough to know you were getting off-track. You became slowly “adulterated” by learning to:

  • Take on family roles that don’t match who you really are.
  • Spit back what teachers taught you in school rather than risk getting bad grades for being original.
  • Hide parts of yourself that don’t seem acceptable to certain social groups.

The price for fitting in is that you may wind up leading a life that doesn’t fit you all that well. Your true calling becomes clear when you embrace what makes you different from others and allow yourself to stand out from the crowd, even if it feels awkward. Often, the very qualities you view as your flaws are your greatest gifts.

Here’s How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment.

6. See the Bigger Picture to Find Your True Calling

I cannot stress the importance of this success principle enough. Your true calling is right in front of you. But you may miss it because you’re looking for it in the wrong place.

To “see” it clearly, try widening your point of view.

Case in point: Maria felt she needed to retire early from being a police detective, so she could travel abroad. I encouraged Maria to think of ways that she could continue to serve as a law enforcer (a career she loved) and travel overseas at the same time.

A few months later, Maria landed a job with the United Nations in Bosnia training the local police force to understand and embrace human rights procedures.

Like Maria, you are an everyday rock star capable of accomplishing greater things than you can imagine. Is what you’re looking for right in front of you, too? Do you have an inkling of what it may be?

Look beyond your day-to-day activities, your current job, and even the town you live in. View your life from an eagle’s perspective and be open to new possibilities.

7. Try a Little Wish-List Magic

Pretend I’m your fairy godmother and I give you permission right now to be your most magnificent self. What kind of life would be music to your ears? It doesn’t matter whether it seems unattainable or even downright crazy. Write it down on a wish list.

Get quiet. Be honest. Think big.

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What would you like your career, your relationships, your health, your finances, and your spiritual life to be like? Jot down enough details so that your wishes seem tangible to you. Then, look at this list every morning before you start your day and every night before you go to sleep.

Sounds silly? It’s not. It works! Permitting yourself to daydream about a rich and fulfilling life is the first step to manifesting it.

8. Take Breaks to Get Clues About Your Ideal Future

Did you know that working straight through to a deadline leads to diminishing returns? Research shows that taking a break for 15 minutes every 75 to 90 minutes can help you recharge, refresh your focus, and get more done in less time.[5]

Wait, it gets better! A Stanford study shows that walking increases your creative output increases by 60 percent. Doing repetitive activities such as walking, running, riding your bike, swimming, and sweeping allow solutions to problems to pop into your mind out of nowhere.[6]

What does this success principle have to do with creating your dream life?

These mini-breaks allow you to get vital clues for what to do next to attain your ideal future. Plus, you won’t waste precious time and energy getting lost in other people’s agendas.

9. Take Action on Your Inspired Ideas

Once an inspired thought pops into your mind, take action.

This is one of the most powerful success principles for turning your dreams into reality; the sooner the better. Whatever it is—from calling an old friend to taking a new route home—be sure to do it!

Pay attention to your oddball hunches. You need to go after what you want, not just dream about it. As comedian Jim Carrey warns,

“You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.”

10. Count Your Rockstar Moments

Still not sure you have what it takes to get your dream life? This final success principle is guaranteed to help.

Make a list of everything you’ve ever accomplished. As you read back through it, put a star next to each item, and let it sink in.

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You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good you’ll feel about yourself afterward. You’ll also see how effective you’ve been in the past at getting what you want. You’ve succeeded before, you can succeed again.

You already rock. You just need to own it. Trust me, you’ve got this!

Final Thoughts

Eleanor Roosevelt said,

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Following these success principles will help you find the time and energy to do the things that really matter and live with clear intention.

By spending just one hour a week doing something you love, focusing on your strengths and achievements, embracing what makes you different, and acting on inspired ideas, you can create a life that is a perfect fit for you, step-by-step.

If you don’t have a clue about what your dream life could look like yet, don’t worry. Your heart knows. It has been “talking” to you for a long time. It’s just being muffled by KCRP, buried under a lot of “shoulds” and fear.

This article can also help you figure out the life you truly want to live: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up.

Stand still, get quiet, and listen. It’s constantly telling you what you need to do to realize your own rockstar potential. It may be just a whisper now, but the more you pay attention to it, the louder it will get, and the easier it will be to follow.

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Featured photo credit: Rahul Dey via unsplash.com

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