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Career Advice

Finding That Push: How to Motivate Yourself When Your Boss Doesn't

By Krisha Maclang on June 6, 2015

Let’s admit it: even if we’re grown-ups, a pat on the head would still be nice. We want that adult version of a gold star a.k.a concrete motivation from our bosses. It can be a salary increase, excellent performance reviews, opportunity to travel, or even a good old “good job.” In whatever way it comes, knowing you're supported and appreciated is one of the most effective forms of motivation you can get.

However, the reality is not all bosses are going to be nice enough to give you the motivation - no matter how desperately you might need it.

You love your job and see a future there but your days are getting a little rough. The days drag by and it's starting to feel like wading through sand in a hot, hot desert. You need that extra push, but it’s clearly the last thing on your superior's mind. So how do you motivate yourself when your boss doesn't?

Take the lead on your career roadmap

One of the best ways to push yourself at work is to get feedback about your performance. Most companies do a yearly evaluation, but once a year isn’t enough to be told that you are doing a great job or if you need to improve.

It may boil down to a generation gap issue. Reports show that millennials have been found to need more feedback, support and fulfillment in their jobs compared to previous generations. If your boss is older, it’s possible that you guys just aren’t on the same wavelength when it comes to work motivation.

Take the lead and try to schedule a monthly catch up or evaluation session with your boss. Show your boss that your performance is important to you because you want to help him or her, and the entire company. Use these sessions to find out what your strengths are as an employee, to pinpoint the things you can improve on and more importantly, to establish goals. Do you want to increase your sales quota? Maybe increase page views for the company website?

Find out how you can help and use it as an opportunity to learn new skills as well. Knowing that you have a career roadmap gives you purpose and will carry you through rough days.

Establish a reward system

It can be a drag to trudge through a difficult week at work if you know there’s no prize waiting at the finish line. Try to set up a personal rewards system at the end of difficult periods or work goals to give yourself a much needed break.

Your rewards can either be short term or long term. Having a rough day? Try setting aside some time to take a walk outside your office after you meet your deadline. Don’t forget to indulge yourself with a yummy snack.

If you’re trying to get through a huge project at work, reward yourself with that new gadget you’ve been saving up for or maybe take a trip out of town for the weekend.

If you know you have treats waiting for you after some hard work, you’ll be more eager to give it your all.

Find support in your co-workers

People often say that there is strength in numbers, and that's also in true when it comes to motivation.

When you know that your colleagues have your back, you will feel more confident in what you can do. You can pull through because you know there are people who will help you pull through.

They know the best and worst parts of you at work so use their insights. If there's no peer evaluation system set up in place, take the time to chat with them and  get critical information about your performance.

Getting support from your co-workers can also be as simple as unwinding with them over happy hour. Whatever means of support you choose, a little help from your work friends goes a long way.

Keep your end goal in mind

What is the result that you want to see with the event you’re organizing? Why are you hustling hard to be the star management trainee?

Knowing what your purpose is for everything that you are doing is a good way to push you to hustle. There are times when we get lost in the flurry of to-do lists, deliverables, and pending projects, that we forget what all of it is for. Are you saving up for a dream vacation? Paying for your son’s tuition? When you remember the Why, it becomes easier to deal with the How.

Find joy in other things

If finding meaning at work isn’t likely and you’re not considering quitting your job, then find some inspiration outside the office. You can begin a new personal project, such as learning a new skill, or pick up a new hobby like mountain climbing.

Happiness may not always be found at work, but you can find it by building up your sources of joy elsewhere. Start small, like writing in your journal everyday and eventually build it into something bigger, like your own blog. Life doesn’t and shouldn’t end when you clock out at 5pm. By building up other aspects of your life, it becomes something much more fulfilling and will motivate you to get up every morning.

Finding your motivation from within may demand a little bit of creative thinking but when you know that your career is on the line, you can’t rely on other people to motivate you to do your best.

Remember that you are the captain of this ship. You determine the course it takes even if the water gets a little rough. Find the push you need and you'll be sure to sail the path you set out for yourself.

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