Light a Fire to Your Motivation

Steps to reignite your drive for success

The recent scrutiny of executive compensation has compelled a growing number of employers to scale back their robust salary and bonus offerings for corporate employees. The discontinuation of lofty incentive plans, expensive job perks, and exorbitant employee benefits to reward hard work is leaving many executives relying on old-fashion self-motivation to sustain their career drive and achievements.

Unfortunately, 40% of employees indicated they have difficulty staying motivated at work, according to a 2009 survey conducted by job search engine Careerbuilder.com.

“The fallout of this economic downturn is taking a toll on the mettle of corporate professionals,” states Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., talent management guru and former chairman of the international Society of Human Resources Management association.

Unlike the usual causes of diminished self-motivation, Taylor suggests this current decline is the result of faltering self- and employer-confidence, widespread corporate mistrust and a constant state of being mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually overwhelmed by aspects of this recession.

“External stimuli aside, self-motivation is the fundamental impetus for most professionals’ work initiative, follow through and inclination to take responsibility; without it one’s work ethic, ability to add value and capacity to effectively self-manage performance is severely hampered,” adds Taylor, co-author of The Trouble with HR: An Insider’s Guide to Finding and Keeping the Best People (AMACOM, $27.95). He warns that one’s lack of self-motivation over an extended period of time can have a pervasive and destructive effect on both career success and advancement.

Yet, Taylor insists professionals can stage a comeback and offers the following five strategies for finding more moxie in 2010:

Address the internal causes of low self-motivation. “Self-motivation is an inside job,” offers Taylor. Identify problems that stifle professional vigor and implement appropriate solutions to resolve them. For example, if you’re paralyzed by the fear of looming unemployment, update your resume, intensify your networking, and explore other job options.

Minimize environmental factors that drain motivation. “High levels of stress, frustration and low morale can make any work environment toxic,” Taylor explains. Take steps to mitigate the impact of negative surroundings. Avoid engaging in futile complaining and workplace gossip. Navigate precarious office politics with finesse and diplomatic acumen. Reconfigure work processes, systems and interactions to maintain productivity in the face of challenging workplace realities.

Work towards something meaningful. Are you seeking a promotion or considering a career change? Do you want your work to have stronger personal value? Reflect on your professional and personal goals, aspirations, values and convictions. Identify responsibilities of your job that support these items. Bolster your belief in what you do by focusing on these responsibilities and appreciating how your work and outcomes contribute to greater purposes.

Capitalize on the present moment as an opportunity. No matter what state or condition the economy or your company is in – recession, merger or acquisition, recognize opportunities to advance your career. Broaden your work experience by volunteering for extra assignments left undone by workforce reductions. Hire an executive laid off by your company to provide career coaching and specific advice for ascending the corporation’s ranks.

Create a do-it-yourself rewards program. Give yourself frequent pats on the back for a job well done. Earmark time to take a cutting-edge business course or attend a conference. Engage with a diverse network of inspiring mentors. Taylor says: β€œThe best rewards are those that boost our self-esteem, promote our growth and development and help us work to our full potential.”

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