How to Stay Motivated at Work: Be an Optimist

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Eat That Frog!" by Brian Tracy. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you struggle to stay motivated at work? Do you allow your internal negativity to bring you down?

Your emotions depend on how you talk to yourself. One way to stay motivated at work is to choose to be an optimist. This will also raise your self-esteem and give you confidence.

Continue reading to learn how to stay motivated at work with optimism.

How to Stay Motivated at Work

You create your emotions by how you talk to yourself. What you tell yourself about people and situations determines whether they motivate or discourage you.

One way to stay motivated at work is to choose to be an optimist. Respond positively to whatever happens and don’t let typical daily frustrations get you down. Be your own cheerleader and coach: use your inner voice to encourage and urge you to excel.

Constantly talk to yourself positively to boost your self-esteem, which is what motivates you.

Repeat to yourself, “I have what it takes” to build confidence and overcome doubt. When people ask how you are, respond, “I feel great” regardless of how you feel or how things are going. You have the ability to choose your attitude in any circumstance: choose to be positive.

Don’t complain or talk about your problems because it puts you in a negative mindset, and it won’t get you any sympathy. As a humorist once said, 80% of people don’t care about your problems and the other 20% are secretly happy you have them.

See the Positive Side

Based on a 22-year study at the University of Pennsylvania, Martin Seligman wrote in Learned Optimism that optimism is the most important contributor to success and happiness. Optimistic people do better in most areas of life. Optimists have four behaviors in common:

  • They look for the silver lining: when things go wrong, they always manage to find a benefit or something good in the situation.
  • Optimists seek to learn from setbacks. They believe there’s a lesson they can learn from each setback or hurdle and they resolve to find it.
  • They focus on solutions rather than problems. Instead of complaining when things go wrong, they ask, “What’s the solution?” or “What’s the next step?”
  • They focus on the future. Optimists continually think about their goals and how to achieve them rather than dwelling on the past.

When you continually talk positively to yourself, you feel more focused, stay motivated at work, and feel more eager to tackle challenging jobs.

Push Yourself to Stay Motivated at Work

Another way to stay motivated at work is to challenge yourself. To reach your potential, push yourself to identify and tackle your most important tasks. Set a higher bar for your performance than anyone else would set for you: start work earlier, stay later, and do more than anyone expects of you. 

One way to push yourself to beat procrastination and get more done is by giving yourself deadlines and sub-deadlines. For instance, work as if you had only one day to get your most critical job done. Imagine you have to leave town for a month tomorrow. What task would you most want to get done before leaving? Work on that first. (This is different from the harmful pressure you put on yourself when you plan poorly or have to rush due to prior procrastination.)

Setting a deadline or high standard and pushing yourself to meet it increases your confidence and self-esteem. It also builds the habit of productivity. Continually pressure yourself to become a high-achiever.

Act With Urgency

Acting with urgency is the final key to stay motivated at work. Successful people are action-oriented; they’re always pressing to get things done. They plan and prioritize, then jump into the most important tasks and work to the end. When they’re engaged and working with momentum, they’re in a high-performance state known as “flow.”

You can get into a state of flow more easily if you approach your work with a sense of urgency, or a compulsion to get on with the job and get it done. A sense of urgency is accompanied by an action orientation, in which you focus on what you can do now rather than continuing to talk about what you might do, and you get started as quickly as possible.

To get yourself started and to keep moving, it sometimes helps to repeat mantras to yourself like “Let’s go,” “Do it now,” or “Focus!”

While the first step is the most difficult, subsequent steps are easier because completing each one builds momentum toward the next. As you build momentum toward completion, you also build self-confidence and a feeling of competence. Having a sense of urgency that drives and enables you to get things done fast-tracks your career.

How to Stay Motivated at Work: Be an Optimist

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  • What it means to eat a frog
  • How your daily distractions get in the way of doing important work first
  • How to make a habit of doing the most important thing first, every day

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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