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10 effective ways to stay motivated

By Preeti Bose
Last updated on: October 12, 2007 11:10 IST
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Shruti Sinha*, software engineer, thought it was end of the road for her when she was not selected for an overseas assignment. "I was completely sidelined and to top it, two of my team members were chosen over me. For the next few days, I was at home, crying helplessly as if my whole life was over. I was totally without any motivation in life and didn't even want to go back to work anymore. I still feel lousy."

Shruti just wallowed in misery and didn't give it a second thought, but let's take more a serious look. Was it all so terrible? Why did she assume her career was over or out of her control? Are any of our careers really out of our control? If so, in whose hands do the controls lie?

Our bosses? Our circumstances? Or we, ourselves? There are times when you feel like you are on a roll, and nothing can get you down. And then there are times when it seems that the road to success is filled with nothing but boulders and gaping potholes. It is on this rutted road that you need motivation the most.

Motivation comes from within. You might be inspired by achievements of others, but, to go far in life, you need to feel charged and determined to achieve your goals.

Try these tips on how to be self-motivated to get your work life back on track or to keep going top speed on your career path!

1. Be confident. If you don't believe in yourself, why would anyone else? We all have something we are good at. Have faith in yourself and try to work on your niche skills. Drive the fear of failure far away from you. Remember, what doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger!

2. Be clear. Fuzzy, undefined goals are difficult to focus on. How will you proceed when the path seems all foggy? Request your manager for defined, measurable objectives and tasks.

If your manager is not very forthcoming, take some initiative and work with him until you have clarity about your role and what you will be appraised on, at the end of the year. Self-motivated people work best with clearly defined objectives in life. Even if the targets seem a little hazy, house-bred motivation can come in real handy!

3. Work on yourself. Nothing works better as a power shot of motivation than the knowledge that you are good at what you do! Be on top of things at work. Identify your weak areas and get them out of the way. Enroll in courses that will raise your market value and also your motivation levels. Getting a few certifications and qualifications in your functional skills will definitely instill a great deal of confidence.

4. Take criticism positively. Even though the other person has no such intentions, turn all negative criticism into a positive driving force. Failure is a state a mind. If you think you can succeed, you will. Always think positive. That way, instead of brooding over past disappointments, you will route your frustration into positive energy required for working harder. It works like magic.

"My boss was always running me down. Even when I did a good job, he never praised me. Initially I used to feel terrible and slowly started to look for excuses to avoid official meetings when he would once again find reasons to discourage me. I contemplated resigning and finding a new job where I did not have to prove myself over and over again," recounts Mohit Sethi*.  "But then, there were no guarantees that my next boss would be better to work with. So, I took it up as a challenge. I started reporting to work early and always finished my tasks before time. My team members started to respect me more because I helped them when my work was done. Gradually, my boss took a back step when he realised that I was now a highly productive member of the team. If I had not been self motivated to prove a point, thoughts of having failed and run away would have chased me forever."

5. Look out for challenges. If the current job demotivates you, not to worry. Be open to try out new things if your present role has become too boring to continue even a day more. Talk to your seniors to redefine your role to optimise your capabilities. Establish your reputation as somebody who is not scared to take on new challenges in life.

6. Be persistent. Most things may not work out right the first time. This just means that you need to try harder. However, ensure that you set your heart on goals that are really important to you and will help you progress in life. Save your efforts for things that matter. Do not waste your energies on peripheral things. 

7. Keep the company of successful people. Try to surround yourself with confident people who are driven and high on life. Read books that fill you with optimism. Put up motivating posters and quotes on your workstation that will spread positive energy and drive away any depressing thoughts. Look around for successful people and try to emulate them. Find out what makes them tick and include that in your working style.   

8. Celebrate life. If something doesn't shape up like you thought it would, it does not mean everything else is doomed as well. Do not feel stressed; high stress leads to low motivation. Take active interest in things happening around you. Live your life well. Continue to have faith in yourself and get involved in things that give you happiness. That itself will generate enough motivation for you to glide over waves of setbacks. 

9. Start today. List all that is important for you to achieve your goals. Divide long-term goals into smaller milestones and celebrate each accomplished goal. Procrastination is a killer so keep it at bay.

10. Keep dreaming. Lastly, do not forget to keep dreaming. Dream big! Let your dreams fuel your desire to get closer to your goals. Write your dreams for yourself in a diary or a journal and constantly refer to them so that you do not forget or lose sight of the objective. 

Remember, "Motivation is all about how high you can bounce when you hit absolute rock bottom."

The writer is senior manager -- Training for a US-based MNC. The views expressed in this article are solely her own and not of her organisation.

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Preeti Bose