You’re great at what you do. You have a clear roadmap of where you want your career to take you. However, even when you have every step, milestone, and promotion mapped out, the reality is that advancing doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s common for work energy levels to drop—particularly at the end of the year. Suddenly things that you took in your stride can feel like a slog and you can get bogged down and demotivated. For example, a professional development course you were excited about a month ago starts to feel like a drain on your energy, or a work project you felt confident about suddenly appears to be overwhelming.
Moments like these are crucially important because if you become discouraged, chances are you’ll start to procrastinate. The trick is to stay motivated, even when you feel like you’re standing still. Take this skill into 2022 and you’ll reenergise your whole career approach.
The link between emotions and motivation
The key to feeling motivated lies in the word “feeling.” According to Eric Barker in his Time article “How to Motivate Yourself: 3 Steps Backed by Science”, emotions nearly always win out over reason. When you’re unhappy, discouraged, or stressed, these negative emotions will result in procrastination. On the other hand, when you’re feeling happy, confident, and excited, these positive emotions power action. In other words, positive emotions form an integral aspect of motivation.
Seven strategies for staying motivated
Some of us have naturally sunnier dispositions than others, but it’s important to remember that a positive attitude and motivated approach are skills that can be learnt. So, forget New Year’s resolutions about hitting the gym or quitting a bad habit, instead invest in cultivating a positive attitude and staying motivated; this approach could accelerate great things in your personal and professional life!
1. Visualise your goals. Positive imagery is a powerful way to remain inspired to advance. Think about your goals every day. Imagine your life once you’ve reached your professional goals and use these images to motivate yourself.
2. Be realistic. Advancing your career is all about attaining your goals—but those goals must be realistic; otherwise, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Bear in mind that every time you meet an objective, you’re advancing in the right direction. Carefully review your plans, and determine whether you need to add smaller, interim goals that will help you feel confident on the way to your bigger objectives.
3. Focus on the activities that fuel your purpose. According to an article titled “7 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Work Hard When You're Really Not in the Mood” it’s important to stop caring about things that don’t matter and to remove activities from your to-do list that aren’t “inherently meaningful or part of a larger mission”.
4. Learn positive self-talk. Just like a coach encourages their athletes by assuring them they can do it, you should learn to encourage yourself with positive self-talk. If you’re afraid of failure and you tell yourself a task is too difficult, chances are you won’t do well. If you tell yourself a challenge is an opportunity to test your skills and learn new ones, you’re creating a positive situation for yourself in which you’re not limited by your own apprehension.
5. Develop a routine. Heading into January with a clearly defined routine can provide you with a powerful tool to stay positive and motivated throughout the year. The more you grow accustomed to doing certain things like studying or networking for a specific amount of hours a day at a certain time, the easier it becomes.
6. Create a competitive environment. Friendly competition can help you to up your game and surpass your own expectations. Find one or two colleagues or friends who are also looking to advance their careers and inspire each other to continuously do better.
7. Reward yourself. In his Chron article “Motivational Strategies in Business”, George N. Root III explains how rewarding employees inspires them to perform better. You can apply a similar strategy to your career. However, instead of only celebrating when you’ve achieved a goal, take the time to reward yourself simply for your hard work—treat yourself to a movie, a nice dinner, or whatever fun activity you enjoy most.
Advancing your career takes time and hard work. Use these seven tips to keep yourself motivated, and you’ll find it becomes easier to consistently move your career forward in 2022.