How to Stay Motivated When You’re Feeling Underappreciated at Work

Finding the motivation when you're underappreciated is a difficult task, but it's not an impossible one.

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A 2017 study revealed a truth employees know, but that may surprise their higher-ups: Around 66 percent of survey respondents said they’d leave a job that left them feeling underappreciated. If you’re experiencing that same sentiment, you, too, might be planning your departure.

Whether you’re searching for new opportunities or powering through a less-than-stellar period, though, you don’t want to let your feelings affect your performance. Finding the motivation when you’re underappreciated is a difficult task, but it’s not an impossible one. Here’s how to encourage yourself until things get better.

1. Highlight Small Wins

The big picture is making it difficult for you to stay motivated, so home in on the brighter moments and smaller victories within your day. You can keep a record of your wins in a journal and flip through them when you’re feeling low — you do accomplish your goals, even if you’re not receiving thanks for doing so.

Reviewing your entries will probably restore that warm-and-fuzzy feeling of appreciation. It works for gratitude journals, so your accomplishment diary should give you the same feel-good vibes.

To that end, make it easier for yourself to achieve these smaller wins. If you’re facing a daunting project, you might have trouble finding the inspiration to start. Instead, divide the enormous task into small parts and pat yourself on the back each time you finish an item on your checklist. Every tiny victory will lead to a finished product.

2. Validate Your Efforts

It is undoubtedly lovely to hear from your boss that they recognize and appreciate your hard work. However, you should be able to derive pleasure and self-worth from your work, too.

For starters, you can look back and feel pride in your educational background — higher education boosts self-confidence and self-esteem, which you can drum up when you’re not receiving praise at work.

On top of that, you know how hard you’re working and what you’re accomplishing on your own. Even if you’re not earning accolades, you are contributing to a greater company good, and that should make you feel valued.

Ultimately, though, your line of work should be validating. Some of the most thankless careers are also the most rewarding, so keep that in mind if you’re going through a rough patch.

3. Set Personal Goals

In most workplaces, employees meet yearly, quarterly, etc., with their boss to come up with goals and, later, to check in and see if they’re on track to accomplish them. If your office is a bit more hands-off, however, you might have to do this on your own.

Tracking your progress toward your workplace goals will give you the same boost of motivation you’d get in a one-on-one with your boss. Start by delineating what you want to accomplish. Then, figure out how you’ll chart your path to completing each one.

If you can, come up with a visual to show you how far you’ve come and how close you are to reaching your target(s). Although this isn’t quite the same as hearing praise from your superiors, it will motivate you toward the finish line and make you feel good once you get there.

4. Mirror the Praise You Crave

You can’t expect to receive thanks if you’re not giving any. So, start showing your appreciation for your team members, bosses and everyone else in between. Soon, they will begin to notice — and, in most cases, they’ll start reminding you of your value to them, too.

In this case, be sure you’re choosing the right moments in which to flood your colleagues with praise. Overdoing it will remove some of the message’s power, so give credit only where it’s due. Then, when you receive recognition of your own, you’ll know it means something, too.

5. Talk to Your Boss

In many cases, your boss will fail to realize you’re unhappy. Think about it — they have plenty to do, and they’re responsible for your accomplishments, too. The lack of feedback and motivation could be due to a shortage of time.

So, schedule a meeting to talk to your boss about how you’re feeling. Be sure your statement gets your point across without anger or blame. Start by coming up with a concise statement about their behavior and how it affects you. Then, go into your meeting with an open mind — a quick conversation might be all you need to reinvigorate your boss’ motivational skills.

Of course, you might find your needs and advice on how to change are falling on deaf ears. If so, it might be time to consider a new position within your company — under new management, of course — or begin the search for a job where your boss will motivate and champion you to success.

In the meantime, though, these five tips should help you maintain your drive. In the end, all that matters is that you’re proud of yourself. Even if you’re not feeling appreciation from others, you know how hard you work and what it takes to succeed. Let that inspire you until you receive the positive feedback you deserve.

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