Staying motivated at work when the chips are down isn’t easy. You feel deflated, like a failure, maybe even afraid you’ll lose your job. The first thing to remember, however, is that none of us are perfect and all of us make mistakes. The second thing is that you can turn the situation around. Take a look at these eight ways to keep moving ahead when nothing seems to go right to get back on the path to success.
One of my favorite TV shows is ABC’s Shark Tank. As an entrepreneur myself I’m drawn to other entrepreneurs, and I’m often in awe of the brilliant businessmen and -women who enter the tank hoping for a deal. I enjoy hearing about the journey that led them to the biggest meeting of their lives, many of which, as they relay it to the sharks, veer off the course they set for themselves. Yet there they are, standing in front of dealmakers, heads held high, eagerly anticipating a partner that could one day make them rich.
Their stories are a dime a dozen. Every person has their own tale of hardship at some point in their life, and it can be helpful when you’re feeling down to tap into those anecdotes not only for comfort but also perhaps solutions to your problems. You may not find an answer per se, but it’s certainly comforting to know that you’re not alone – and that things will get better. If you don’t have entrepreneurs in your circle that can offer their advice, the internet is full of from-the-bottom-up stories to help get your head back in the game.
I write about goal-setting on a regular basis, and the biggest hurdle I see among people who fail frequently or who feel like failures often are that they’ve set their bars of achievement so high that it’s nearly impossible to reach them. You’ll end up disappointed more often than not if your goals are too lofty, which may mean that you need to reflect on them and adjust as necessary. Furthermore, it’s been proven time again that by setting small, achievable goals opposed to wide-ranging ones often leads to success and increased motivation. Who doesn’t like ticking off a box on their to-do list? Break your goals down so they’re humanly possible to achieve, and you’ll start to see the positive results almost immediately.
You can’t run when things go wrong, but there are plenty of other ways you can effectively set whatever’s weighing on your mind to the side so you can refresh. For some that may be exercise; for others it may be after-work drinks with friends. Wherever your safe space is located, go to it, de-stress, and revisit your issue with a rational point of view to get back on the straight and narrow.
I’m a perfectionist and a control freak, which can wreak havoc on my motivation when life goes wrong. I want to lie in bed, pull the covers over my head, and pretend that none of the problems exist. Meanwhile, the truth of the matter is, they’re continuing to pile up as I ignore them, exacerbating the problem further. So I have reminded myself every now and then that I can’t be the master of all things. Some things are out of my control – and that’s all right.
I prefer to work alone. Not so I can take all the glory, but rather so others don’t slow me down. I work at my own pace, which is rather quick sometimes, and I don’t like having to accommodate someone else’s speed. Of course, there are times when I need help with something, and I’m not too proud to ask for it. One’s preference to avoid asking for help probably stems back to those childhood vacations in the car when your family got lost and your dad absolutely was not asking anybody for directions, ever, no matter what. But if you’re in a bind that requires a second set of eyes or hands, ask for the help. Recognizing that you can’t do it all isn’t a sign of failure, but rather success – especially when the alternative without the help might be a failure anyway.
It’s hard to keep your eyes on the prize when a setback derails your progress, but don’t let it zap your motivation completely. Remember why it is you’re doing whatever you’re doing and remind yourself that it’s worthwhile, even through the hard times. Maybe you can revisit the beginning of the project when things were going according to plan, or perhaps check into your vision board for that extra oomph. However you want to do it, find the positive in what you’re doing and refocus your sights on the outcome.