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Career Issues

Methods For Staying Motivated

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Spring has sprung, but after the winter some workers may still have lingering feelings of "cubicle fever" associated with their jobs. Is your motivation waning? Are you having trouble staying focused? That uninspired feeling is more common than you think. "We tend to internalize these feelings and imagine we're the only ones experiencing them," says psychologist Theresa Freese. In reality, procrastinating and loss of motivation happens to everyone at some point. Although the duration can vary, the trick is to recognize it so you can take steps to remedy the situation.

"The best orchestra conductors never need to touch the instruments. They touch the hearts of their musicians," writes Mike Ramundo in The Idiot's Guide To Motivating People. The key to motivation is igniting passion. What is your passion? Do you thrive on receiving awards or getting raises? Hearing praises from colleagues or your boss? Maybe you have a passion for helping others or delivering rousing speeches. "Knowing what motivates you is the key to knowing what de-motivates you," says Freese. You may be in an environment at odds with your goals and passions, but the key is shifting your attitude and being as productive as possible in that environment.

Setting goals is a great self-starter. When we find our interest in a project flagging, we tend to view it as a monumental task. Instead, break it into segments and pace yourself with daily goals and weekly progress reports. Challenge yourself by gradually increasing your weekly workload. Like exercising, you will find your momentum and production growing as you "get into shape" and hit your stride. Palm pilots and to-do lists come in handy, and it's always a good idea to write goals down. Even if you know what you want to achieve, writing things down serves as a constant reminder and forces you to organize your thoughts.

Visualizing what you want to achieve can be a powerful motivator. There are numerous techniques to choose from, and visualization is closely aligned with goals. Once you know your specific goal, picture yourself in a scenario where you realize it or possess it. Let's say you want a promotion. Picture the meeting with your superior where you are informed that you have been promoted. Visualize the results of your new promotion. If you want to reinforce the idea, draw the scene as you see it in your mind's eye. When the scenario is firmly established, think of it throughout the day. Believe that the goal is yours or will be yours. Remember that visualization is not a magic trick. Hard work and dogged dedication toward realizing your goal must accompany it.

Relaxing and recharging can fill up the well and help motivate you to focus on a task. "An occasional recharge day can help you clean the slate, reassess, and reconnect with your passion," says Freese. The object is not to make taking days off a habit, but to strike a balance when you may be overworking to the point where you are not as productive. The Japanese have something called 'karoshi,' which is death by overwork. Thousands succumb to it every year and some companies have begun to combat the problem with mandatory days off. But there are times when we get on a roll and it's important to take advantage of them. "When you are hitting on all cylinders, it's good to ride that wave of momentum and get as much done as you possibly can," says Freese. However, when things are not clicking, it's still important to get things done.

Many people define success by how comfortable they are, and they become complacent when they reach a certain comfort level. Tackling something from a different angle is a form of risk taking and risks help push you out of your comfort zone into new potentials. Advertising's 'sultan of sell' Leo Burnett was stuck for ideas while working on a 1940s ad campaign for red meat. One day in the studio, he wondered what would happen if the piece of red meat appeared on a red background. He risked it, and the result was a series of successful red-on-red ads. When you are stuck on a project searching for a gear sometimes it helps to try the element of surprise and attack it at another hour. Sometimes we need to shake the Etch-A-Sketch in our heads to purge our mindsets and try things from a wildly different perspective.

Self-Motivating Tips:

Review And Renew Your Goals: Have they changed? Have you changed in order to meet them?

Cultivate A Vision: Visualization techniques clarify your goals and help you focus energy.

Take A Breather: Allowing yourself down time can help you reconnect with your passion and reinvent yourself.

Go Out On A Limb: When you're in a rut, try taking risks and tackling problems from different angles.

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