So what do you do when you’re just not feeling motivated by your job anymore?
When I was younger (and dumber) I used to quit jobs the second I felt like either the learning stopped or anytime I didn’t feel motivated by the role, my surroundings, my bosses, etc. In retrospect, I left some pretty cool jobs under the assumption that there was nothing left for me there. What I’ve found is that by taking a step back, taking a deep breath, and looking at your role from a different set of eyes will actually reveal opportunities within and outside your role that may be the perfect new challenge to pursue.
I teach perspective to EAs around the world. The genesis of what I teach is approaching your role not as a “worker” but as the entrepreneur of your own small company in a partnership where you are the #1 service provider. By having this perspective (it takes practice and constant adjustment) you will feel much more empowered to look for different opportunities to keep your role fresh and to continue to grow in position. It’s when we allow work to dictate us is when we lose that vision beyond our day-to-day.
Another thing you must also remember is that contrary to what they say, your professional development is not your company’s responsibility. I’ve seen rockstar employees go absolutely stale and become interminably frustrated because they expected their companies to, essentially, handle their professional development and slide silver platters in front of them to consume away. Um, sorry to have to be the bearer of bad news (read: reality), but #aintnobodygottimefuhdat. Companies mean well during the interview process, but often don’t have the bandwidth, manager buy-in, or time to look at each individual employees’ growth curve, monitor and contribute to their professional development. So stop falling for the well-intentioned BS and take the reins of your own professional development and motivation. Find those things you want to learn that will help you grow in your role and which help the company make money, save money, save a headcount or run more efficiently…and make them pay for the training. It’s much cheaper for a company to slide a reimbursement check across the table for a few classes per year than it is to replace a top performer who is collecting dust and answering recruiting calls in the deepest corner of the parking lot.
I never depend on a company to make me better. I’m happy to do that my damn self. I’m, ultimately, the one responsible for my career. I’m the one doing the work, making the sacrifices, putting in the long hours and, hopefully, growing into an even better version of myself each day. You want motivation? Re-read what I just wrote. “Be a little bit more amazing than you were yesterday.” That’s true motivation. Sure, it may sound a little Pollyanna, but good ole Polly is a billionaire now, so…
Remember that “step back” I referred to earlier? I revaluate my role every quarter, religiously. It’s not some huge, complicated exercise. It’s really just to make sure that I’m not consciously falling asleep at the wheel. It’s to keep an eye on my role, responsibilities and accountabilities to make sure that 1. I’m still moving forward in my role, and 2. That my contribution and growth is in some way quantifiable and being recognized and compensated accordingly. My goal is always to be looking for new learning opportunities or to become an expert at something unfamiliar or to be able to hold an intelligible conversation with the most obtuse Engineer in the building about our company’s products. For me, that’s the best motivation ever to keep me out of the clutches of the “sameness vortex” that claims many a superstar employee.
Advice: stop relying on your company to do the right thing. They mean well, but it’s not their job. YOU do the right thing and constantly adjust your approach and personal/professional expectations to find new challenges or learning opportunities within the same four walls you’ve inhabited for years. If you feel you’ve exhausted every challenge and learning opportunity and have had months of feeling stuck, it’s time to go. Life is fleeting and uncertain. Sometimes change is the best form of motivation. Don’t fear it.
Motivation isn't hard to find, but it does take a little work. Your attitude and perspective will allow you to spot opportunities to take on bigger projects or insert yourself into conversations you completely overlooked while you were playing candy crush or checking your socials. Remember, your company hired you to do a specific job. Anything beyond that is essentially up to you. If you choose to be bored and unmotivated, that's on you. If you continually adjust your attitude and approach your role with an entrepreneurial mindset, you'll never be bored and will feel empowered to stay and shine or head for the exits confidently knowing you've squeezed every drop of blood from the turnip.