July 06, 2017

Need Motivation at Work? Here's How to Reignite the Fire

If you're in need of some motivation at work, here's some inspiration to help remind you of how important the choices you make every day at work affect your future.

"What do [you] want to be when you grow up?" Do you remember ever being asked this question as a young child? Most curious young minds are asked this at least once during childhood. While answers can range anywhere from "an astronaut" to "a movie star," to "a cowboy," to a "policeman," with many propositions both more and less realistic, the answers themselves make way for the aspirations and dreams we once had.

Some may want to be a doctor. Others want to be Luke Skywalker.

I Have A Dream

"Astronaut" was always a popular answer when I was growing up. I must have encountered at least a dozen or so other children who gave this reply, and that was in my community alone! The thing is, there are two problems with this:
  1. The demand for astronauts probably isn't quite that high.
  2. You can't just send in your application and become an astronaut. It takes many years of hard work. Plus, during those years of becoming an astronaut, you have to find another way to make money.
On the other hand, however, it's unlikely many children will answer the same question with, "a ticket taker at a movie theater" or "a supermarket cashier" or "the guy who flips burgers at McDonald's." Yet, these are jobs that somebody has to do.

They're occupations, jobs, types of work that are generally fairly easy to get into and perform. And often, they're sought by everyday people just needing to "get by" to help them step onto and launch their rocket into the stars and beyond.

But what if your rocket is a long time in coming? Or maybe never comes at all?

When Work Gives You Lemons

Wherever in life you might be right now, whatever situation you find yourself in, no matter how difficult, challenging, and frustrating it may seem at the moment—never give up on your dreams.

If your dream is something that you can truly see yourself accomplishing, by all means, go for it!

But what about in the meantime? While you're stuck answering phones, stocking shelves, or dealing with "hangry" ('hungry and angry' for those not inclined) drive-through customers?

Does it mean you've been handed a lemon? That you're stuck in this in-between period that has no use other than to keep you alive until you reach your destination?

Your Attitude Makes all the Difference

There are generally two kinds of employees, and you've probably seen both. There's the guy at Burger King who hands you a greasy bag of food and half-heartedly mumbles: "have a nice day," only to stare at you shortly after when you explain that they got your order wrong.

Then, there's the lady at the WalMart checkout aisle who scans and bags your items quickly and efficiently, who speaks cheerfully without being too chatty, and who smiles and looks you in the eye as she kindly wishes you a great day.

Chances are, neither of them really wants to be there. They both probably have a hundred things they'd rather do. But, while the attitude of one makes your decent day more frustrating than it needs to be, the attitude of the other can make your frustrating day a little brighter and more enjoyable.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. As goes the cliche. So,

"When life gives you a mediocre job, make it count!"

Sweet or Sour

In his book See You at the Top, motivational guru Zig Ziglar reminds us that:
"Attitude is the “little” thing that makes the big difference. The story of life proves that it is often the minute things that spell the differences between triumph and tragedy, success and failure, victory or defeat."
What little things?

For one thing, a person's attitude can have an immense effect on their workplace as a whole. For example, your cheerfulness may brighten a coworker's day, which puts them in a better mood, which makes the atmosphere better for everyone.

Alternately, your negative attitude may drag others down, creating a workplace ambiance about as enjoyable as the dulcet tones of nails on a chalkboard.However, beyond that,
"The way you choose to handle and respond to your unexciting job affects you as much as or more than anyone else."
This is a matter of sheer practicality—as you are forced to spend the majority of your time at this place, doing this thing, with these people for the sake of "getting ahead".

It may very well be, for the time being, that is where you are in life. This is your reality. The choice is yours, however, so in the moment, when things don't seem to be going your way, what will you decide to do? Will you decide to be miserable about it and complain about all the things that are wrong, or will you decide to find joy in it?

Your Time Will Come

It may not feel like the choice of a sweet countenance, or a sour one is within your power, especially not on those days when you're tired, and you haven't had time to pursue your hobbies for days, and you're not exactly feeling a hundred percent. Yet, it might very well be that all you can seem to think about is how much you'd rather be space training at NASA right now.

Those things can make the choice harder. But still, ultimately, you choose your tone of voice. You choose your efficiency at your tasks. You choose your smile or your frown. And, you choose the spin you put on your thoughts as they come. Whether those are "I hate this. I'd rather be anywhere else. I'm sick of these people and this place and this work." or, "I'm grateful to have a way to earn money that can help me do what I want to do with my life."

Stepping Stones

Doing your best at your job may very well be a stepping stone to your galactic ambitions. Sure, there may not be a direct connection between selling shoes and taking off for Mars and searching for unknown planets, but take notice because people are watching what you do.

In a quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson, author Coleman Cox humorously noted;
“I'm a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it."
If, upon reflection, your attitude towards your job is more pessimistic than it is optimistic just keep in mind that a person whose mediocre performance and bad attitude will likely be passed over when greater opportunities come along.

But, a hard honest worker who is pleasant to be around and who makes it their goal to bring their employer success is a valuable commodity that is all too rare in this day in age. And it is often these type of people who are rewarded for the value they bring and are destined for great success. If nothing else, working hard and being present at work will serve you well as practice for your dream job.

Believe it or not, even at your dream job, you will get tired. You will have bad days. You won't feel like working hard or being nice. But, with more practice—the more likely you are to succeed.

See also: How to Motivate Yourself and KEEP Yourself Motivated.

Keep at it, and Embrace the Journey

In an interview with the African-American Film Critics Association, actor Marlon Wayans stated,
"Success is not a destination, but the road that you're on. Being successful means that you're working hard and walking your walk every day. You can only live your dream by working hard towards it. That's living your dream."
It may be tempting to give your lackluster job, less than your all. But, regardless, keep shooting for the stars. Because, at every step along the way, great opportunities will come your way.

In the end, the best goal is not merely to be the best astronaut you can be. Rather it's to be the best you can at everything you put your mind to.