Jul 30, 2011

(Un)motivated At Work You Like? Questions That Torture, Tips That Don't Help And Thoughts That Do


Few years ago I was working with a senior executive. As I was spending more time in his office (and knew him from a previous job), he said casually:


''Liliana, I am no longer interested in my work. I am not motivated anymore.'' He sounded as it was not a big deal. For a while, I was technically paid to look at his pictures from Bora Bora, or websites he found interesting.


Do you ever feel unmotivated, like you could do anything but your work? A work you chose, a work you like?


How many times a month do you feel like that? And...Do you worry about it like I do?


Am not so cool about it as my client was. Especially when it lasts for more than a day.


On such days I nearly wish there was the boss pushing me until I forgot all about motivation slump.


I am frustrated and worried on days when work is just not coming out the way it could, or the way I know it could be.


Sometimes the work itself was a drag ( turned into too much administrative work, dealing with lawyers, banks or accountants that I did not find interesting.)


So when the lack of motivation strikes even in the job I chose and like, it is hard to find answers.


I dreamt about working for myself (long before I did), and naively believed there would never be a boring day like when working in corporate job, or for someone else. How wrong I was.


Even writing this blog is not always the same. Some days words dance for me and some they just do not seem to hear the beat. ( I have to ask code writers if it feels the same.)


When I am writing, speaking, teaching - it is not the same motivation, intensity, or passion every day. I wish it was.


I know, it's normal but it upsets me. I know I can't be in working ecstasy constantly, but I wish for agony to be over as soon as possible.



Questions That Worry Me When This Happens


Am I in the right career/business, if I have few days like this?


Why was it feeling so great to work this morning (yesterday, last week?) Where did it go?


Is this the end of my commitment to work?


Is it that I can never enjoy my work again?


It took me more than a decade to figure out what I want to do (and can do), will I take another decade experimenting, trying or wandering?



What Mainly Did Not Help


I looked for articles, or tips. Most say ''Clarify goals, set objectives, plans, approach, vision, mission,...please!


Boring, boring, boring, I am even more unmotivated and drained!


I know I get bored easily, but I wonder who's motivated by ''Organize yourself.'' or ''Think positive'' (how can I think positive when I feel negative?). Anyone understands that?


One tip that I found just OK is ''Remind yourself why you do the work you do.'' That is a little more helpful. I remind myself I do my work and enjoy flexibility it gives me, but I am still not doing much.


''Do this work, so you will not have to do something worse'' reminds me of election, where you vote for one party just so the other party will not come in power.



3 Things That Help A Little


1. Telling myself 100 % productivity and quality is impossible.

I reduce (my own) expectations to feel delighted or wildly inspired, so absence of motivation does not ''paralyze'' me.



2. I try to notice a pattern if there is one so I will know it is just how it works.

(e.g. I noticed I was more in the mood for work on Mondays than on Thursdays, or I write better and faster after 2-3 days of reading and thinking.)



3. I start moving small, make first call, start the first paragraph, so there is something I can build on later. I can say ''I've done this.''

I try to think ''To achieve greatness, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can''.~Arthur Ashe

After a while, a feeling (motivation) returns and it feels fine. Until the next time.


I was relieved to know that others have the same problem. I learned Irving Stone (American writer I love) said something along the lines of ''When I do not have the inspiration to write, I make sure I turn up at my desk, just in case it looks for me.''


How do you cope with periods when you feel unable to do (a great) job, and does it bother you at all? Why, or why not? Did you find a solution that works for you? What can you suggest?


PS: When you ''only'' have difficulty to focus try one of 16 strategies to help you.



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