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Last Updated on January 14, 2021

How to Stay Motivated If You Don’t Really Like Your Job

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How to Stay Motivated If You Don’t Really Like Your Job

Most people have had jobs that didn’t excite or interest them. You might even be in a job right now that makes you feel completely unmotivated. However, for whatever reason, you need to stick with it. In that case, it’s important to learn how to stay motivated, even in less-than-perfect conditions.

Work is a huge part of our lives, so it’s important that we make it meaningful and aim it toward our passion and purpose. Even if you’re in a job that you don’t really like, it’s possible to find ways to keep improving.

Here are 10 ways to stay motivated at a job you don’t love.

1. Figure out Why You Aren’t Motivated

Do you know exactly why you are not motivated? This should be the first thing that you do. Figuring out why you aren’t motivated will give you insight into exactly what you don’t like about your job.

You may find that you like your job but don’t like working for your critical boss. Or perhaps your interests have changed over time and you don’t like the area you’re in anymore. Or maybe you love to socialize, but you’re working in a cubicle where you rarely interact with your coworkers.

Whatever the situation, try to pinpoint exactly what it is that’s bringing down your energy levels. This will help you as you learn how to stay motivated and reach your goals in the long-term.

2. Leave Your Stress at Work

This can mean multiple things. Do not bring work home if you don’t need to. If your work is what is causing you stress, then you should try to leave it completely at work at all costs, if possible.

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This also means that you shouldn’t let a bad day at work make you feel miserable at home, as well. Try to keep work and home completely separate so that you can enjoy your free time.

This may mean creating a routine for when you get home to help you disconnect from the work day you just had. Maybe you go for a short walk, sit outside and eat a snack, or read a chapter of that new book you just bought. Whatever it is, it needs to be something that pulls your mind into the present moment and away from what happened during the day.

This will help you create a work-life balance that will help up your motivation in life in general.

3. Stay Positive

If you have a negative attitude about your job, then it will probably make it difficult to learn how to stay motivated. You need to try to think as positively as you can, and have a good outlook about the tasks that you are doing.

This will, of course, require a shift in thinking. Try to challenge each negative thought you have about a task. For example, if your boss just gave you a huge project that you’re dreading, instead of saying “This is going to be awful,” try telling yourself, “This is going to be a challenge, but it’ll be a great opportunity to learn something.”

If positive thinking is particularly difficult for you, try developing a daily meditation practice. This will help you create space to take in and analyze the negative thoughts you have throughout the day.

4. Lay out an Action Plan

If you don’t plan on staying at the job that you don’t really like, then you should come up with a way to find a better job or at least work on skills that will help you get one. You can start thinking about what your next job will be, how you will get that job, whether you will need schooling, and so on.

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Once you have an idea of what this future goal looks like, enroll in some free online courses, read books from the area, or start browsing job sites to see what’s available. The simple prospect of being able to find work you enjoy more will likely do wonders in lifting your motivation levels.

5. Find Hobbies You Enjoy Outside of Work

Having something that you enjoy outside of work can really make work more enjoyable. Hobbies will allow you to take your mind off of work and truly relax.

Not only is this a great stress reliever after work, but it can help you have something to look forward to throughout the day.

6. Be a Great Worker

Even if you do not like your job, try to do the best you can with the job you have. Focus as best you can on the task at hand. If your boss appreciates your work and praises you, then you will be more likely to feel motivated on a daily basis.

You can also try to help out your coworkers. Feeling altruistic will give you a positivity boost that will help you feel good about what you’re doing.

7. Take a Break When You Need to

Now, this doesn’t mean you should stop being an efficient worker, but you should take a break when you need to. If you have been skipping your lunch break for the past ten years, you’re just hurting yourself. You should take breaks so that you can feel refreshed when you go back to work.

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When you want to know how to stay motivated at work, use your vacation days!

    Also, a recent study showed that “more than half of Americans (55%) are still not using all their paid time off”[1]. If you’ve earned vacation days, use them! That free time with your family (or alone) will give you the necessary space to relax and unwind. You’ll also be able to look forward to these blocks of time[2] throughout the year, which should do something to boost your motivation.

    8. Look Forward to Something

    I’m sure there is some reason why you can’t leave your current job. You need to think about your end goal and why you currently are where you are. Maybe you are working in this current position so that you can possibly one day get a promotion.

    Maybe you are working this less-than-motivating position because you need to pay for your college degree. In that case, you need to think about how great it will feel when you finally graduate from college.

    Whatever the reason, keep a written reminder in sight at all times to help you remember why you’re doing the job you’re doing. With that visual, you can learn how to stay motivated and set goals, even when the work is less-than-ideal.

    9. Ask for New Responsibilities

    If you’re bored with the monotony of doing the same tasks each day, go to your boss and ask if there are any new responsibilities they would be willing to give you. Perhaps they’re looking for help on a project in an area that interests you. You won’t know if you don’t ask!

    Alternatively, you can ask your boss to inform you if any other positions come up within the company. With time, you may come across an opportunity to move into something you enjoy more.

    10. Dress Like You Are Still Motivated

    It can be easy to start “letting go” and not caring about your appearance when you feel unmotivated. However, don’t adopt this mindset. Make sure that you are still dressing the part and that you still feel confident with the way that you present yourself.

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    One study, described by The New York Times, explained that “If you wear a white coat that you believe belongs to a doctor, your ability to pay attention increases sharply. But if you wear the same white coat believing it belongs to a painter, you will show no such improvement”[3].

    These results belong to a field known as embodied cognition, which says that the way we think and process information is directly related to our physical appearance. So why is this important for your job?

    If you dress well and feel confident with the clothes you wear, you’re more likely to perform better, feel better, and achieve your goals.

    Final Thoughts

    Everyone experiences days at work when they feel unmotivated, but if it’s happening every day, it’s time to take a good look at your work life. It’s possible to learn how to stay motivated, even at a job you don’t really like.

    If you find that these things still aren’t working and that you are only growing more resentful of your job, it may be time to take the required steps to find a job that will make you happier.

    More on How to Stay Motivated at Work

    Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] U.S. Travel Association: PAID TIME OFF TRENDS IN THE U.S.
    [2] The Balance Careers: Vacation Time and Pay For Employees
    [3] The New York Times: Mind Games: Sometimes a White Coat Isn’t Just a White Coat

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    Michelle Schroeder

    Michelle is a personal finance expert. She earns $1 million per year while sailing.

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    Published on September 27, 2021

    What Is Incentive Motivation And Does It Work?

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    What Is Incentive Motivation And Does It Work?

    We’ve all needed a bit of inspiration at some time in our lives. In the past year or two, that need most likely has grown. Who hasn’t been trying to shed those extra pounds we put on during the pandemic? Who hasn’t felt the need to fake a little enthusiasm at joining yet another Zoom call? Who hasn’t been trying to get excited about trekking back into the office for a 9 to 5 (longer if you add in the commute)? Feeling “meh” is a sign of our times. So, too, is incentive motivation, a way to get back our spark, our drive, and our pursuit of the things we say we want most.

    In this article, I’ll talk about what incentive motivation is and how it works.

    What Is Incentive Motivation?

    Incentive motivation is an area of study in psychology focused on human motivation. What is it that gets us to go from couch potato to running a marathon? What spurs us to get the Covid vaccine—or to forgo it? What is it that influences us to think or act in a certain way? Incentive motivation is concerned with the way goals influence behavior.[1] By all accounts, it works if the incentive being used holds significance for the person.

    The Roots of Incentive Motivation

    Incentive motivation’s roots can be traced back to when we were children. I’m sure many of us have similar memories of being told to “eat all our veggies” so that we would “grow up to be big and strong,” and if we did eat those veggies, we would be rewarded with a weekend trip to a carnival or amusement park or playground of choice. The incentive of that outing was something we wanted enough to have it influence our behavior.

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    Growing up, incentive motivation continues to play a major role in what we choose to do. For example, while we may not have relished the idea of spending years studying, getting good grades, pursuing advanced degrees, and graduating with sizeable debt from student loans, a great many of us decided to do just that. Why? Because the end goal of a career, a coveted title, and the associated incentives of financial reward and joy in doing something we love were powerful motivators.

    One researcher who believes in the power of incentive motivation is weight management expert, co-author of the book State of Slim, and co-founder of the transformational weight loss program of the same name, Dr. Holly Wyatt. Her work with her clients has proven time and again that when motivation fizzles, incentives can reignite those motivational fires.

    “Eat more veggies, exercise, keep track of my weight: These things and more DO work, but bottom line, you gotta keep doing them. Setting up rituals and routines to put your efforts on auto-pilot is one way. And along the way, the use of both external and internal motivators helps keep people on track. External motivation sources are those things outside of ourselves that help to motivate us. They’re powerful, like pouring gasoline on a fire. But they may not last very long. Internal motivators are more tied into the reasons WHY we want to reach our goals. In my State of Slim weight loss program, we spend a lot of time on what I call ‘peeling back the onion’ to find the WHY. I think the internal motivators are more powerful, especially for the long-term, but they may take longer to build. They’re the hot coals that keep our motivational fires burning.”

    Examples of Incentive Motivation

    In the way of incentive motivation, specific to the external motivators, Dr. Wyatt challenges her clients to commit to changing just one behavior that will help them reach their weight loss goals. Clients must then agree to a “carrot” or a “stick” as either their reward for accomplishing what they say they will do or as their punishment for falling short. Those incentives might be something like enjoying a spa day if they do the thing they said they would do or sweating it out while running up and down the stairwell of their apartment building a certain number of times as punishment for not following through.

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    Whatever they choose, the goal must be something they really want, and the incentive must be something that matters to them enough to influence their behaviors in reaching those goals. Some people are more motivated by some sort of meaningful reward (a carrot) whereas, other people are more motivated by some sort of negative consequence or the taking away of a privilege (the stick).

    Another example of incentive motivation is playing out currently with companies and government entities offering perks to people who get the Covid vaccine. Nationwide, offers are being made in the way of lottery tickets, cash prizes, concert seats, free admission to events and discounts for food, and even free drink at local restaurants and bars. The list of incentives being offered to the public to increase vaccination rates is pretty extensive and quite creative.[2]  These incentives are financial, social, and even hit on moral sensibilities. But is this particular incentive motivation working?

    Remember that a key to incentive motivation working is if the individual puts importance on the reward being received on the ultimate goal. So, not all incentives will motivate people in the same way. According to Stephen L. Franzoi, “The value of an incentive can change over time and in different situations.”[3]

    How Does Incentive Motivation Differ from Other Types of Motivators?

    Incentive motivation is just one type of motivating force that relies on external factors. While rewards are powerful tools in influencing behaviors, a few other options may be more aligned with who you are and what gets you moving toward your goals.

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    Fear Motivation

    In many ways, being motivated by fear is the very opposite of being motivated by incentives. Rather than pursuing some reward, it’s the avoidance of some consequence or painful punishment that sparks someone into action. For example, married couples may “forsake all others” not out of love or commitment but out of a fear that they may be “taken to the cleaners” by their spouses if their infidelities are revealed.

    Another example wherein fear becomes the great motivator is one we’re hearing about more and more as we’re coming out of this pandemic—the fear of being poor. The fear of being poor has kept many people in jobs they hate. It’s only now that we see a reversal as headlines are shining a light on just how many workers are quitting and refusing to go back to the way things were.

    Social Motivation

    Human beings are social creatures. The desire to belong is a powerful motivator. This type of social motivation sparks one’s behavior in ways that, hopefully, result in an individual being accepted by a certain group or other individuals.

    The rise of the Internet and the explosion of social media engagement has been both positive and negative in its power to motivate us to be included among what during our school days would be called “the cool kids” or “cliques” (jocks, nerds, artsy, gamers, etc.). We probably all have experienced at one time or another the feelings associated with “not being chosen”—whether to be on a team to play some game or as the winning candidate for some job or competition. Social rejection can make or break us.

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    Before You Get Up and Go…

    Know that, especially during these challenging times, it’s “normal” and very much “okay” to feel a lack of motivation. Know, too, that external motivators, such as those we’ve talked about in this article, can be great tools to get your spark back. We’ve only touched on a few here. There are many more—both external and internal.

    Remember that these external motivators, such as incentive motivations, are only as powerful as the importance placed on the reward by the individual. It’s also important to note that if there isn’t an aligned internal motivation, the results will more than likely be short-lived.

    For example, losing a certain amount of weight because you want to fit into some outfit you intend to wear at some public event may get you to where you want to be. But will it hold up after your party? Or will those pounds find their way back to you? If you want to be rewarded at work with that trip to the islands because you’ve topped the charts in sales and hustle to make your numbers, will you be motivated again and again for that same incentive? Or will you need more and more to stay motivated?

    Viktor Frankl, the 20th-century psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor, and author of the best-selling book, Man’s Search for Meaning, is quoted as having said, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” As important as external motivators like incentives may be in influencing behaviors, the key is always to align them with one’s internal “why”—only then will the results be long-lived.

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    So, how might incentive motivation influence you and your behavior toward goals? Knowing your answer might keep you energized no matter what your journey and help to further your successes.

    Featured photo credit: Atharva Tulsi via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Britannica: Incentive motivation
    [2] National Governors Association: COVID-19 Vaccine Incentives
    [3] verywellmind: The Incentive Theory of Motivation

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