It’s easy to feel isolated in a job. Even in an office full of coworkers or a store full of customers, we can experience that familiar feeling of dread and loneliness as each day blends into the next. We’re often told that our career progress needs to be linear and that we always have to be hustling toward another new goal. So, we can easily become unmotivated when it feels like nothing is changing.
When you’re feeling this lack of motivation, how would you normally describe your workday to a friend? Maybe, “I sent a bunch of emails,” or “I had to deal with a really difficult client,” or “a customer left 10 outfits on the floor of the dressing room and I spent 40 minutes putting everything back on the rack.” These are all valid, real difficulties and it’s important to acknowledge and work through these feelings.
However, it’s also essential for your well-being as an employee and as a person to reframe your thought process, so that you don’t get stuck in a negative spiral. While no amount of positive attitude can totally fix a bad working environment, when you feel unmotivated, one great way to build your sense of purpose is to expand your perspective and think of how your work impacts the lives of others.
Take the above example for instance–many of us send what feels like hundreds of emails per day. Especially as an assistant or an administrator, your inbox can seem bottomless, and a day spent answering those emails can leave you feeling drained. But there is someone on the other end of each one of those emails and most likely, you helped several people, connecting them with the correct information or pointing them in the right direction.
Or, as a sales associate, day to day, you might feel overwhelmed by the waves of customers coming in looking for a pair of jeans. But if you slow down and re-frame, you realize that each person you helped has their own story. It’s possible you helped someone feel more confident in their body, step outside their comfort zone, or find an outfit that would give them an extra boost for a first date or outing.
If you had to spend all day on the phone, working with that difficult client, it might feel like you just wasted the day and gave yourself a headache in the process. But, more likely than not, you helped someone. Maybe your insights and patience helped the client finish a challenging project. Or perhaps the “difficult” client was just having a hard time and your explanation allowed them to work out a complex issue.
By actively thinking about how our job impacts others, we learn to appreciate the work that we do and, by extension, ourselves. So, the next time you feel stuck at work, remind yourself to reset and ask yourself, “how did my efforts make a positive impact on other people today?”. This simple act will energize your day and help you stay motivated in the future.
This article was written by Rachel Ludwig.
Rachel Ludwig is an editor and writer based in Brooklyn. Samples of her work can be found at raludwig.com.