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Motivation is crucial in any professional environment. Trouble is, staying motivated is often easier said than done.

No matter what industry you’re working in, you’re bound to encounter days with more bad than good. This is no reason to give up.

After all, success comes when you push through the frustrating times and focus your efforts and energy on accomplishing one goal at a time. 

To help you keep pushing forward in whatever you’re doing, we’ve compiled seven science-backed tips for sustaining motivation in the workplace. From finding your “why” to accepting rejection, we’re willing to bet that these tips will make a noticeable difference in your day.

7 Psychology-Backed Hacks for Boosting Your Motivation

1) Remind yourself of what you love about your job.

There are two fundamental types of motivation — extrinsic and intrinsic. When you’re extrinsically motivated, you’re driven to act because of external incentives, like money, recognition, or praise.

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Intrinsic motivation, behavior driven by the simple enjoyment of a task, is a more powerful force. Richard Griggs, a psychology professor, writes, “A person’s intrinsic enjoyment of an activity provides sufficient justification for their behavior.”

Try writing down a physical list of everything you enjoy about your job, or keeping a running tab of on-the-job moments that made you happy. The important thing is to be able to quickly refer back to a list of positive moments that will provide you a jolt of intrinsic motivation.

2) Find your “why.”

The intrinsic-extrinsic dichotomy is further explored in the push-pull theory of motivation. According to this theory, humans are either pulled to do something because of internal motivation, or pushed because of external factors.

“Pull-based motivation is about tapping the desire to achieve something,” entrepreneur Jonathan Fields writes in Psychology Today. “It’s about taking action not to remove a current pain, but to bring yourself closer to a deeply desired end.”

So when you’re feeling discouraged, remind yourself of why you got into your industry, and what you’re striving for long-term. With a clearly defined purpose, finding your intrinsic motivation to keep going is far easier.

3) Expect a certain amount of rejection.

Instead of treating rejection as something to be afraid of or an unpleasant surprise, build the expectation that a certain number of potential customers are going to say “no” into your day.

Expectancy theory, pioneered by Victor Vroom, states that people choose to act a certain way based on their expectations of what will happen.

A caveat: This only applies to a normal level of rejection. If no one is converting or expressing interest in the content you’re putting out, it might be time to take a closer look at your approach with your manager or peers.

4) Frame potential pitfalls as opportunities.

Research shows that high achievers tend to be achievement-oriented, rather than failure-avoiding. Achievement-motivated people gain satisfaction from succeeding at difficult tasks. Failure-avoiding individuals are primarily concerned with — you guessed it — avoiding a screwup.

Failure-avoiding people “are less likely to attempt achievement-oriented tasks, and may give up quickly if success is not readily forthcoming,” according to psychologist Carl Beuke. Not too inspiring, right?

To put yourself in the mindset of a high achiever, frame risks as opportunities. Sure, not everyone is going to be in waiting at their computer to tweet out your latest blog post, but it’s more productive to view your post as a step in the right direction towards educating your prospects. Coming from a positive place rather than a place of fear will go a long way to keeping you motivated.

5) Set specific short- and long-term goals.

It’s important to keep in mind your blue-sky goals — that is, where you want to be in five or 10 years. But five or 10 years is a long time. What are you supposed to reach for in the meantime?

Sports psychologist Frank Smoll suggests setting goals for the short- and long-term. 

Short-term goals allow people to “see immediate improvements in performance and thereby enhance motivation,” Smoll writes in Psychology Today.

On the other hand, relying purely on lofty goals is actually damaging, as it ignores “the sub-goals needed to attain them.” And this results in a failure to achieve much of anything at all.

6) Remember that it’s not personal.

It’s natural to take rejection personally because humans are inherently social beings. But in marketing and sales, it’s unproductive.

“Taking things personally keeps you tied to someone else,” psychiatrist Abigail Brenner writes in Psychology Today. And if you’re tying yourself to every failed opportunity, you’re going to become overwhelmed with disappointment in short order.

To get some distance from an unpleasant situation, Brenner suggests evaluating what the relationship you have with the person who upset you really meant to you.

7) Go take a walk.

The arousal theory of motivation proposes that humans act to correct imbalances in neurological activity. That is, that when we’re either over- or under-stimulated, we subconsciously behave in ways that bring us back to a healthy level of arousal.

You can stay one step ahead of your subconscious, however. If you feel yourself getting agitated or frustrated, remove yourself from the situation. Leave the office for a quick stroll, stop by a coworker’s desk for a quick chat, or just take a bathroom break. By doing something relaxing, you’ll be able to center yourself and re-focus on the task at hand.

How do you stay motivated? Let us know in the comments below.


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