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5th July 2021

How To Stay Motivated In An Unhappy Work Environment

Ever heard of the saying ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going?’

In tough situations you really have to pull your sleeves up and work hard to turn things around or else you sink. It’s during tough times that you can really see what your limitations are, what you are capable of and who is on the bus with you.

If your are facing major organisational change at work or are in a difficult situation that is impacting your performance you are likely to be spending most of your time in an environment that feels negative, strained, unhappy and/or just plain hard. As much as you may be ‘managing’ or ‘dealing with it well’ it can be extremely hard to push through and more so to do it while staying positive.

Here are a few ways to keep energy and positivity high when things around you are very negative.

Figure out what your contribution is

We all want to feel like we have a higher purpose both in and outside of work. Part of this is figuring out what your contribution is, how you make a difference. This is more than just what tasks you accomplish or what ideas you bring to the table.

Think about what makes you, you. What do others see in you? Why were you hired in the first place? Is it that you have a natural knack for solving problems, making people feel good, bringing people together, finding amazing opportunities? Whatever it is you have it – it may be that you’re happy with it as it is, you want to do more or you don’t do enough.

Think about this on both a personal and professional level and determine what you want your contribution to be. It may be that actually you’re in the wrong place and identifying that now will help to find your true purpose and shape your contribution.

Take time to celebrate your accomplishments

If you’re ever feeling unsure about yourself and your capabilities take a look at what you have accomplished so far and feel good about them. Remind yourself of the things you’ve done well and acknowledge them. For many overachievers it’s hard to recognise what you’ve done well and you’ll probably find that when someone praises you or compliments you, you automatically respond with something to make it sound less significant. For example – someone at work may say well done on that piece of work, it’s amazing and you may find yourself saying thanks but pointing out something that isn’t quite perfect or is wrong with it.

Next time someone praises you or gives you a compliment take a moment to soak it in, believe it and say thank you. Don’t say anything negative about it. You might even want to write it down to be able to look back on it later on.

Don’t forget to also praise your team members and celebrate their achievements. That positive reinforcement may be just what they need.

Find a personal project

Having a separate personal project can be a refreshing and energising break from your usual responsibilities. You’ll be giving yourself a space in which to be creative and innovative. Ask your boss for some time to work on something that excites you and is still related to the company.

During times when you may feel out of control or restricted in specific areas of your work, having a separate project of your own can be quite freeing and more often than not can turn into a fantastic idea or project for the business.

Develop a positive attitude

It’s impossible to be 100% positive and happy all the time but the more you focus and practice being positive the more natural it becomes. Take the necessary steps you need to put you in a positive mindset.

When something goes wrong you’ll be less likely to react, get angry or depressed and more likely to stay positive and respond accordingly. Things like exercising regularly, having a healthy balanced diet and getting more sleep can do wonders for your body and mind and will help massively with maintaining a positive attitude throughout your day. Surround yourself with positive people who inspire, motivate and empower you to be great. Do more of the things you love and find easily accessible sources of inspiration.

Mix it up

Change the way you do things and throw a little variety into your work day. You could take a difference route to work, move your desk around, drop a bad habit, create a new habit to help you stop working, find a new hobby, eat lunch outside or even change the way you do team meetings. Make some small changes that will help you be more present and focused.

Recently we introduced Monday fun days as part of our team meetings. Every week one person has up to 15 minutes (although often we only use 5-10 minutes of this) to do absolutely anything. They can share a funny video, make everyone laugh, do a treasure hunt, a meditation, a card game etc. It’s entirely up to the individual. The week before last we made these gratitude cards.

It’s a really simple creative injection of energy that takes barely any time but gives everyone an energy boost or simply gets us all laughing. Why don’t you try and propose it as an activity for your next team catch up, or come up with something fun to shake up your day and see what difference it makes.

Stay connected

In negative or frustrating situations at work it’s easy for people to isolate themselves and become an island. This only makes things worse in the long-term.

Embed yourself in the team and suggest activities or things that you can do together that will make everyone feel better and more connected. Similarly, if you see anyone beginning to isolate themselves go and talk to them. Ask what their frustrations are and listen. Even though you might not be able to directly do anything to help just knowing that they have been heard will make them feel better and like you are on their side.

Do more as a team

Think of creative activities you can do as a team or suggest a meet up outside of work. If you have the budget organise a team building day where you can have sessions on positive mindset, wellbeing, nutrition, mindfulness and tie that in with a fun, bonding activity to end your day. Our energise & inspire days are designed for this purpose and if you’d like to see what else we do click here.

If you have no budget you can create a morning or day in-house focused on bringing everyone together. There are lots of creative free activities you can do, you can facilitate group discussions and even nominate someone at work who is very into fitness and wellbeing to talk about it with the group.

Use your network as there may be people in your collective network who might be willing to come in and do a session for you free of charge.

Keep it all in perspective

Remember things happen in cycles. Just because things aren’t great now that doesn’t mean they will remain that way. Things change all the time and this time will soon pass.

You may even find if you look back that the business has been a similar situation before or regularly during a certain period. Look at how you overcame that and keep that in mind.

Do some good

One of the easiest way’s to flip your state is to do something good for someone else. Instead of focusing on yourself focus on making a positive impact on someone’s else day or life. Making other people feel good makes you feel good but more than that it’s an incredible feeling to know that you have made a difference. Be generous and practice kindness every day.

So remember the biggest challenge during anything difficult is remaining positive and focused. In times like these focus on what makes you happy, healthier and energised and simply do more of it! Also try to be innovative and find solutions to problems. Remember it’s not just about you so stay connected and actively choose to be a source of energy and positivity for yourself and others within your team and sooner than you know things will change for the better.


Thanks for reading!


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