27 September 2023

Get moving: How to get motivation from the mundane

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Brian de Haaff* has some advice for getting through those humdrum work tasks that nevertheless are essential to the organisation.

If you can’t get out of it, get into it — a simple yet powerful saying that I think is particularly applicable to work.

Even if you are passionate about what you do, you will not be energised by every single project or task.

So unless you want to get out entirely, adopting a positive attitude can help you get into it.

If you want to achieve sustainable happiness, you have to find a way to derive meaning from whatever it is you are doing.

It is easier to be engaged when you are doing something you love, but not everyone is able to say that their job is also their personal passion.

Even if you do love your job, there will likely be some rote duties that are simply unavoidable.

Depending on what it is you do professionally, these are often the administrative tasks that no one wakes up looking forward to doing.

Even as the Chief Executive of Aha! I am not immune from this type of work.

Even though I know that these types of to-dos are essential to running a successful business, I would not say I find them particularly electrifying.

You spend the majority of your time at work, so why not aim for achievement and joy?

The key is to find a kernel of enjoyment in whatever you are doing, then nurture that feeling into a more lasting motivation.

Studies show that more than a promotion or salary increase, finding meaning in your work will lead to higher engagement and job satisfaction, less absenteeism, and even personal fulfilment.

So how do you find that spark to power through humdrum moments or tiresome assignments? Here are a few ways.

Connect to goals: It is invigorating to strive for something bigger than you.

Our teammates at Aha! all know the company strategy — we share it transparently and use our own software to connect work to goals.

Now, I know that not all organisations have this kind of clarity.

However, even if your organisation does not have defined goals, you can mentally link your work to the overall targets you know the team is aiming for.

Make it personal: Understanding how your work impacts the organisation’s goals is important.

With everyday to-dos or maintenance-mode responsibilities, it can be grounding to think of the actual person who will benefit from what you are doing.

For example, an engineer working on an ordinary bug fix might think of the end user who will soon be able to do their job more efficiently.

Compete with yourself: Stage actor, Konstantin Stanislavski once said that “there are no small parts, only small actors”.

The idea being that if you are technically adept and a master of your craft, you can bring gravitas to any role.

So challenge yourself to do the work better than you ever have before and better than anyone else expects you to.

Pursue exceptional outcomes for the sake of greatness — then try to top yourself the next time.

Lend a hand: Collaborating with teammates can fuel you too.

There is real happiness and validation that comes from working with people who you respect or admire.

Even if your workplace has drama or toxic cliques, you can choose to seek out the individuals who inspire you to be your best.

Just a few minutes of interaction can give you the boost you need.

Be grateful: Whatever you do, you have built up skills that enable you to do it well.

Honour the ambition you have and the investment you made to get to this point.

Pause and take a moment to experience gratitude for the ability to contribute your best self each day.

Coming from a place of thankfulness will allow you to experience even more joy.

Ultimately, work is life and life is work — it is up to you to make it meaningful.

We all want challenging projects that bring a sense of accomplishment, but each day is built on top of the next.

Rather than feel thwarted in the dull moments, remember you have the power to make a positive impact on your colleagues, clients, and the organisation you work for.

Acknowledge and relish the opportunity to do so. The circumstances around you may not change, but your reaction and attitude will.

How do you find satisfaction in all aspects of your work?

*Brian de Haaff is the Chief Executive of cloud-based software company Aha! He can be contacted on Twitter @bdehaaff.

This article first appeared on the Aha! company website.

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