Staying Motivated

The most effective people are lifelong learners. They grow their careers by leveraging their strengths, compensating for their weaknesses, taking on new challenges, and “playing well with others”. For do-it-yourself career coaching, check out our free success tips.


The old saying “different strokes for different folks” is certainly true when it comes to work. For vocational happiness, you need to find a job that matches your own motivational profile. To get an idea of what turns you on at work, consider the motivational patterns below. Then, in the following section, you can rate your own level of interest in each one and the degree to which your current job provides it.

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“Positive psychology” looks at the aspects of life that contribute to our well-being and happiness. Since most of us spend a large percentage of our waking hours at work, your job has a large impact on the way you feel about your life. To see if your job measures up, rate it on the “happiness scale” below, which includes the factors that positive psychologists cite as important.

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During every minute of every day, you are burning mental and physical energy. If you have goals, then a goodly portion of that energy should be directed towards achieving them. Goals automatically provide a useful screening question for your thoughts and actions: Is this particular use of energy helping to create my desired future? Sometimes we are thrown off track by internal or external distractions that represent “energy leeches”. Try observing yourself for a couple of days with the “goal” question in mind. See if any of these energy leeches are interfering with your ability to concentrate on more important things.

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Webster’s defines stress as “a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation”. I define it as that “overwhelming feeling that makes you want to throw your computer out the window, strangle your co-worker, scream, or take the next plane to anywhere but here.”

Stress rears its ugly head in most workplace settings. It’s that tight feeling you get when there is too much to do and not enough time to do it; or your co-worker chews their gum so loud you can hear from across the hall; or the boss drops another “emergency” project on your desk; or when you realize the meeting you thought started at 9:00 actually started at 8:00.

Just as each person has different stress triggers, the stress remedies vary for each person as well. Here are some tips for reducing your stress at work:

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Do you ever experience “Sunday night dread’? That’s the sinking feeling in your stomach when you anticipate returning to work on Monday. If so, it may be a sign that you’re becoming burned out at work.

“Burnout” is defined as “mental or physical exhaustion due to prolonged stress or frustration”. Burnout can be caused by a number of factors: toxic bosses, bad relationships, political game-playing, repetitive tasks, lack of results, long work hours, impossible expectations, or bad career decisions.

The more often you experience the symptoms below, the more likely you are to be a burn-out victim.

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Every job has frustrations – no question about that! But problems become bearable when they are balanced by activities that excite, motivate, or energize us. Mentally put your work on a balance scale, imagining all the frustrations piled up on one side. Now think of the “energizers” that help to offset those aggravations.

Look at the list below. Check the things that motivate you. Are you getting enough of them? Which ones don’t matter to you? Can you find any patterns to the things that turn you on or turn you off?

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