How to stay motivated at work?

Still on the topic of mental health and wellbeing, one of the topics suggested was “How to stay motivated”? I almost put this off to a time when I was more motivated, how ironic! But then it occurred to me I have experiences I can draw on to try to answer this question.

When you’re feeling anxious, down, depressed or stressed, it can become really hard to stay motivated. You may have the adrenaline pumping through your veins (if stressed or anxious) ensuring you keep delivering, but as for the rest… forget it! You don’t want to go out anymore, things you used to enjoy you ignore and you eat junk food.

In more extreme situations, you may even be questioning why you continue to put yourself through this. Why do you keep going back to work every day even though you have no desire to do so? How do you keep performing in your job when you are completely demotivated?

For me this is not just about motivation but about purpose, because in order to pull through you will need to find a reason. Something that keeps you going and gives sense to why you’re doing this. You will need to be able to take a step back in order to think clearly, which isn’t easy.

Make sure you are getting enough sleep and that outside of work you are minimising stress factors be it with friends, family or in activities. Give yourself space so that you can have a clear mind.

Once you’re able to do that (to an extent), start putting into perspective why you’re doing this. At a very basic level it could be: to pay rent & buy food. There have been times when that was it for me, but it allowed me to realise I was fortunate to be able to live independently and provide for myself.

If you like to travel then it could be to allow yourself vacations wherever your fancy takes you, experiencing new things and creating memories. You could be saving money to buy yourself something special, or so you can pay for a course you want to take. You could even be saving for the next jump you’re going to make.

Suffice to say, there are many reasons your pay check comes in handy. Just thinking about the freedom it gives you can help provide motivation or a reason why you keep going back to a less than ideal situation. And it could be that by gaining perspective, you start to feel more upbeat.

If it’s not financial, then perhaps you have a career ambition. Maybe you know that despite this being a difficult moment, there’s a promotion you’re working towards. Or perhaps you are eyeing your next job and know this is a good stepping stone for you.

No matter what it is, find a reason that matches who you are and works for you. Once you’ve found it, hang onto it and in the difficult moments use it to remind yourself of why you’re there. It may be difficult to accept some of these reasons but at minimum it will give you perspective, and perhaps food for thought about the greater things you need to change in your life.

Last but not least, there are many external sources of motivation you can turn to in order to keep going. It could be as simple as a great playlist on Spotify, or a hilarious TV show that gets you laughing, your favourite food or listening to inspiring speakers… Whatever it is don’t forget to find pleasure in the small things and enjoy those moments that will contribute to your overall motivation.

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Currently working in marketing and comms in Amsterdam. Passionate about all things digital, writing, dancing, travelling and much more. Mental health blogger and advocate.

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