How To Self-Motivate at Work (With Steps and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 12 September 2022

Published 9 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Self-motivation can play a major role in your success. It's a skill that can keep you focused as you work towards accomplishing your goals and advancing professionally. Like other skills, you can develop your self-motivation with various techniques. In this article, we define self-motivation and its types, discuss factors that may diminish self-motivation, describe the steps you can take to motivate yourself and provide tips on how to stay self-motivated.

Related: Tips on How To Be Motivated at Work

What is self-motivation?

Self-motivation is the ability to inspire or drive yourself to accomplish tasks and achieve goals. Whether you're working towards your own aspirations or endeavouring to complete assignments given to you by others, self-motivation is the force that invigorates your efforts. Especially when you face obstacles, it empowers you to keep trying despite the difficulties.

There are two types of self-motivation:

  • Intrinsic: Intrinsic motivation originates from within, prompting you to do something because you want to. Intrinsic motivators can be personally enjoyable activities, but they also include challenging tasks from which you may enjoy a sense of accomplishment.

  • Extrinsic: Extrinsic motivation stems from outside yourself. Extrinsic motivators are objects, rewards or other people which encourage you to work towards something.

Read more: What Is Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation? (With Examples)

Self-motivating factors

Self-motivation stems from various factors, and missing one or a combination of these can cause you to feel unmotivated. They include:

Resilience

Resilience is the ability to overcome adversity and stay on course with your goals. A resilient individual may experience disappointment, but doesn't allow it to keep them from doing what needs to be done. For example, you might struggle to understand the data needed to write a report, but your resilience allows you to stave off discouragement and keep trying.

Work ethic

Work ethic refers to your attitude towards your responsibilities. Self-motivated people are likely to have a strong work ethic. Their motivation helps them to remain focused on producing high-quality work, as they feel that consistent effort can produce better outcomes for themselves.

Related: How To Demonstrate a Strong Work Ethic to Your Employer

Purpose

Understanding why you're doing something is important for having the motivation to continue. Purpose is often a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. For example, you might seek a pay rise not only for the validation it represents but also to be better able to support your family or to work towards a financial goal, like buying a home.

Confidence

Confidence is belief in yourself and your ability to do things effectively. This is essential for self-motivation because it allows you to feel that your efforts are likely to produce the desired results. When you believe that your work is effective, you're more likely to want to continue.

Related: Project Manager Skills and Duties (With Examples)

Patience

A patient person is one who understands that success takes time to achieve. They're unlikely to expect immediate results, so they plan for success in the long term. This perspective is valuable for self-motivation because it can stave off demotivating factors such as discouragement.

How to self-motivate

You can follow these steps on how to self-motivate:

1. Define your goals

A goal is a destination, and having a destination gives you a point of focus to work towards. Whether your goals are short-term or long-term, remember that balance is important. Try to aim for goals which are attainable but also challenging. This can help you preempt potential frustration while maintaining your interest in the goal.

Related: Career Goals: How To Set, Examples and Tips for Achieving

2. Devise a plan

A plan is a series of steps you intend to take on your path to achieving a goal. Having one can be helpful because it provides structure to your path. Should you experience times of difficulty or other demotivating factors, you can shift your focus onto the requirements needed to complete a manageable step. Each step you complete in your plan is a small triumph you can celebrate.

3. Account for obstacles

Accounting for obstacles is an extension of planning. Though you can't foresee every specific challenge you may experience, you can try to predict these challenges in a general way and create procedures for handling them. For example, if your goal is to take on more responsibilities at work, but you receive no new or challenging assignments, you can plan activities to reinforce yourself emotionally and consider ways to highlight your abilities to your supervisor. Being prepared for these obstacles can help you overcome them more easily.

4. Track your progress

Keeping track of your progress allows you to visualise results as you work towards your goal, and each result can boost your self-motivation. For instance, a person who's trying to lose 20 kilograms might weigh themself every week. Seeing steady weight loss proves to them that their plan is succeeding, and their goal is attainable. Similarly, you can mark your progress in a planner or on a calendar, noting the small successes you've made so far.

5. Practise self-care

Self-care refers to any activity focused on improving your well-being. It's important to practise self-care because it can improve your mood, which is conducive to self-motivation and prevents stress buildup. Try to take time every day to do something enjoyable or healthful, such as reading, taking a bath, exercising or conversing with a friend.

Related: How To Make Time for Self-Care While Working From Home

Tips for self-motivation

Consider these tips to help you become or stay self-motivated:

Narrow down your goals

Trying to pursue too many ambitions at once can lead to burnout. Prevent this and improve your chances of success by focusing on one or two major goals at a time. This can not only make your goals more manageable, but also help ensure that you always have interesting goals to work towards.

Break down your goals

Breaking a goal down into small steps gives you an outline to follow and can make success more attainable. For example, if you hope to start your own business, you might divide the process into stages for planning, funding, building and marketing. Each step you complete is a victory that can boost your self-motivation.

Find purpose

Having purpose allows you to see value in your work and maintain interest in it. If you find yourself struggling to find purpose in a task, try viewing it from a new angle and analysing its value. For example, consider an uninteresting project at work as a means to improve your reputation, showing that you're adaptable and capable of handling all kinds of assignments.

Read more: 6 Motivation Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

Have a prework routine

A routine before work can put you in the right state of mind to handle your responsibilities. For example, you might listen to high-intensity music before work to increase your confidence, or meditate for 15 minutes to achieve focus. Activities such as these can mentally prepare you for the tasks ahead.

Leave your work at the office

Leaving your work at the office means you stop focusing on professional tasks once the workday is over. Separating your work life from your personal life can enhance all aspects of your life. The benefits range from minimising stress, giving you an opportunity to reflect on your day's accomplishments to better allowing you to appreciate the enjoyable aspects of both your job and your home life.

Related: Tips for Better Work-Life Balance

Focus on the positive

Obstacles might cause you to wonder whether you're capable of achieving your goal. You can overcome this doubt by focusing on positive factors. For example, if you face a challenge in the latter stages of your plan, remind yourself that you've completed multiple milestones so far. Pointing out your own accomplishments can encourage you to move forward and achieve more.

View challenges as opportunities

Sometimes, challenges indicate that you might benefit from a new approach. For instance, a teacher who's having difficulty conveying an idea to their students might realise that trying a different method, such as visual or hands-on activities, would be more effective. Similarly, when you encounter a challenge, try to take it as a chance to try something different.

Have a support network

A support network is a group of people whom you trust and who can champion you in times of difficulty. Your support network can help you through frustrations and encourage you to keep trying. Often, hearing from others that they believe in your abilities is enough to restore your motivation.

Be grateful

Being grateful means acknowledging that you have reasons to feel good about your life. Consider keeping a gratitude journal, in which you write an entry every day about something you're thankful for. Being reminded about the good things in your life can lead you to enjoy a stronger sense of well-being, which can, in turn, promote greater self-motivation.

Reward yourself

Setting up a reward system for yourself can be an effective extrinsic motivator. Consider treating yourself to something small but enjoyable every time you make significant progress in a task, such as a 30-minute break or a cup of tea or coffee. For milestones, you can give yourself a larger reward, such as a dinner with a friend or a night in with your favourite TV show.

Related: Extrinsic Motivation Examples (Definition and Importance)

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