Snap Out of the Career Rut

Five self-motivation steps to achieving success

A 2009 survey conducted by job search engine Careerbuilder.com found that 40% of employees indicated they have difficulty staying motivated at work. It’s not a surprising finding says Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.,  co-author of  The Trouble with HR: An Insider’s Guide to Finding and Keeping the Best People (AMACOM, $27.95): “The fallout of this economic downturn is taking a toll on the mettle of corporate professionals.”

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 the recession.

“External stimuli aside, self-motivation is the fundamental impetus for most professionals’ work initiative, follow through, and inclination to take responsibility,” he continues. “Without it, work ethic–the ability to add value and the capacity to effectively self-manage performance–is severely hampered.”  He warns that lack of self-motivation over an extended period of time can have a destructive effect on career success and derail advancement opportunities. He offers five strategies for finding more moxie in your present position:

Address the internal causes of low self-motivation. “Self-motivation is an inside job,” says Taylor. Identify problems that stifle professional vigor and implement appropriate solutions to resolve them. For example, if you are 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,” he 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 toward something meaningful. Are you seeking a promotion or considering a career change? Do you want to make a difference in poor communities? 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. Recognize the opportunity to advance in any situation, no matter how grim or challenging it appears. Broaden your work experience by volunteering for extra assignments in areas that have been strained by cutbacks or layoffs.

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

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