Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you lose your passion for your work. You show up, go through the motions, complete the assignment, but all the while your head is miles away, waiting for the clock to strike so you can quit for the day.
Passion can certainly make showing up and putting in work easier. There’s a reason that moguls like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs have touted the importance of loving what you do when seeking business success. You’re more likely to stick with your work through difficult times if you’re passionate about it, but how do you regain that passion when you’re in a slump?
Celebrate little wins
If every project feels like a slog until you reach the finish line, try celebrating little steps along the way. Productivity and your mood at work are heavily influenced by a sense of progress – if you feel like you’re making headway on a project, you’re likely to feel more positive.
In fact, there’s evidence to back up those claims. A study from Harvard Business Review found that progress on a project occurred 76% of the time on participants’ “best days,” or days when their mood was positive. And the inverse was also true – on participants’ “worst days,” setbacks occurred more often and workers were less motivated. A sense of accomplishment was the key to increasing those “best days” where spirits were high. Interestingly, the study showed that progress didn’t necessarily equal major milestones. Much of the progress that participants reported throughout the study was the fulfillment of smaller tasks on projects.
What does this mean for you? Celebrating small steps, whether you write 200 words, start a proposal, or design one graphic, are they key to feeling more positive and finding more fulfillment in your workdays.
Take a break
When was the last time you actually got up from your desk for more than a few minutes? If you frequently find that you haven’t moved from the same spot all day, you could benefit from a break. Breaks can help with decision fatigue, which comes when you have too many decisions throughout the day and begin to make worse choices as a result. The longer you work with no breaks, the more likely you are to look for shortcuts.
Because of this, the traditional wisdom of an 8-hour workday is not necessarily what’s best from a true productivity perspective. Our brains are only designed to focus on something for 90-120 minutes at a time with a 20-minute break in between. It’s more helpful to think of your workday in these segments vs. a total number of hours. You might find you’re able to accomplish more in a shorter amount of time.
Know when to call it quits
If you’ve truly tried every hack known to man yet you’re still unmotivated and unhappy with your work, it might be time to examine your current career path. Perhaps it is not the type of work you can truly be passionate about. There’s no shame in examining other options, and you might have to try a few things before landing on what you love.
Did you know that Julia Child, the chef famous for her French cooking show, started off in the ad industry and went on to work as a U.S. spy? In fact, she didn’t begin her career as a celebrity chef until she was 50. As Julia shows, sometimes it takes a little dabbling to find the right career. If what you’re doing now is making you miserable, examine other options that might be a good fit.
Work isn’t always fun, but getting your mojo back when you feel uninspired isn’t impossible. If you’re looking for more ways to get productive and on track, check out our previous blog.
Photo credit: Ambreen Hasan