Building Motivation When Times Are Tough

Life isn’t always rainbows and sunshine. When it gets you down, here’s what you can do to still show up as your best self at the office.

Photo by Jae Park on Unsplash
Photo by Jae Park on Unsplash

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, ‘I’ll try again tomorrow.’” – Mary Anne Radmacher, American Author


There is no denying that what happens outside of the walls of work directly affects your work life. And try as we may to separate the two, there are days when they bleed into one another. It can be difficult to get excited about the presentation you have to finish by day’s end or the Slack notifications flooding your desktop when your number one priority is getting through the day unscathed. We assume the last thing you’re thinking of during a pending recession, results from a biopsy, or an existential crisis is how to increase your company’s bottom line or wow a potential investor. However, since we can assume you’re not already retired and/or haven’t inherited a large sum of money from a deceased distant relative, you still have to go to work. Those bills won’t pay themselves.

If times are trying and you find yourself lacking basic motivation to work effectively, all is not lost. You can get back on your feet, pull yourself by your bootstraps, and get to work without losing all dignity as another cog in the machine.

Lack of motivation at work is a normal response to a tumultuous situation outside of the office. You are human first and foremost. Give yourself grace. Your priorities shifting to accommodate a bigger situation outside of the four walls of the office doesn’t make you any less of a valuable worker. What does is what you do to accommodate your shift in priorities because you do have to still put in the effort. Try these three things to get you back on your feet:

  • Chunk your bigger goals into bite-sized, manageable goals. Finishing small pieces of a whole just feels good. For instance, trying to finish a huge presentation by day’s end while dealing with overwhelming issues outside of the office can feel too big for one person to handle, but focusing your efforts on simply finishing the outline first and then one slide a day can seem more manageable. Just because your priorities have temporarily shifted does not mean that you are incapable of still finding motivation throughout your workday. There’s gratification that comes with a job well done and celebrating your little wins along the way is a surefire way to add some motivation to your day. It also helps you to focus on one issue at a time.
  • When you’re off for the day – be off. It’s impossible to consistently be motivated when you’re always on the clock. Have clear timelines set for when you work and when you don’t. When you are working, be all there. Start on your task and pour yourself into it. We have fairly one-track minds so feed into that by just focusing all of your efforts into wherever you are fully.
  • Dive in headfirst. When you’re feeling uninspired, unmotivated, or just plain lazy – just begin. So much of work comes from simply starting. Do the task you’ve most been procrastinating right now. Yes you. Yes that task. Yes right now. Make it a priority so it’s not looming over you until an hour before its deadline.

No matter what is happening outside of the office, when you are at work, do the work. There is no point in showing up physically if you also can’t show up mentally. When you are outside of the office, show up for the situations in your life that need tending to. Wherever you are, be there.

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