It’s almost 5 p.m. and you’re nearing the end of yet another Monday at the office. Your head hurts and your legs ache, but how could that be when you were sitting down at a computer all day? Eight hours of work and mental fatigue hits you like a ton of bricks. You are wondering, how am I going to make it through four more days of this? Suddenly, you start to worry if this is what work will always mean. And it’s terrifying.
As many newly emerged professionals are finding, it takes more than a college degree and a high IQ to be a capable worker, not to mention, to even land a job in the first place. And those day dreams of being appreciated and respected right off the bat by your higher-ups and amongst your more seasoned co-workers? They quickly become squashed as you realize the corporate ladder is real – and you are standing on the bottom rung.
Exiting college and entering the workforce is a marathon, not a sprint. As inconceivable as it sounds, today’s graduate enters the toughest job market since the Great Depression. But knowledge is power and the more realistic your expectations are, the more you will be setting yourself up for success. Emerging professionals may have to work to re-invent themselves and their skills to make them apply them to the changing job market and even their specific career. Now is the time to transfer timeless skills like hard work, mental toughness, commitment, discipline, heart, fearlessness and emotional maturity – and gain the confidence to run with them in the workforce and the inward motivation to stick through stints of boredom. How can you do this? All it takes is a little balance.
4 Balancing Acts that Improve Motivation
Although the groundwork has often been paved in college, the workforce is a new game that many leave feeling unprepared. To navigate this transition as you enter the workplace, perform the following balancing acts to motivate yourself to stay focused and work harder:
1.) Balance listening with initiative.
Spend plenty of time learning all you can from your higher-ups and peers at your organization. Find out who the key leaders are, and greet them by name when you see them. When you get the chance to speak with company leaders, inquire if it’s okay to ask them a few questions. Pose questions that show you are acquainted with their mission. Ask about the future. When you strive to embody the values of the organization, you will find (and others will see) that you not only fit in at your workplace, you flourish in your work.
2.) Balance ambition with humility.
Employers love ambition, but be sure yours doesn’t make you look cocky. Many call this balance “humbitious” – humble, yet ambitious. Your boss may value your new ideas and insight, but help the company with their current ideas first, before proposing new methods or ideas. Let them know you have vision, but you’re hungry to help with theirs as well.
3.) Balance passion with work ethic.
Demonstrate the same level of work ethic on the tasks you are less than excited about as those you’re passionate about. Sometimes, your work on the “pay your dues” project that isn’t glitz says more about your work ethic than anything else. I encourage you to show some passion for the smaller, mundane tasks you will do as you stand on the bottom rung of that career ladder. In doing so, you are more likely to move up quicker, moving onto the tasks you are more passionate about.
4.) Balance what you get with what you give.
It’s important to be more conscious of what you can give, than what you will get. More studies are finding that newly emerged professionals of the Millennial generation are looking for a workplace where their creativity will be valued. They feel their skill set is in demand and they aren’t afraid to ask about benefits, vacation time, flexible work and even a negotiated salary that reflects that. While all of that is important to address, you will be refreshing to employers if they see you are consumed with adding value to the team, not extracting it from the team. Be a contributor first, and a consumer second.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Jon Acuff for my blog. Aside from being a well known author and speaker, Jon spent years working under Dave Ramsey before he decided to work for himself. In his new book, Do Over, he talks about how, In order to build your dream career, you must first build equity by balancing your time between what you want and what your employer wants. The work you do for others, as it grows into an account, becomes a wealth of favor that you can soon use to move along in your career.
The workforce can be unpredictable, and yes, there are going to be times where work may be boring or uncomfortable. One of your friends is going to land their dream job and become successful instantly, leaving you feeling like a failure. You may battle with motivation at some point, and you may often feel uninspired. The good news? This is all normal.
This generation tends to glamorize life and work, posting and sharing only the best fragments of their story. This can be damaging of course because, after all, what help is it to your career to compare your life to others? As you might imagine, not much. Instead, focus your time on your story and building relational capital in your sphere of influence. Hone your hard and soft skills, deliberately work on your character and relationships. Be intentional about how you spend your time. Balance what you want with what others need and you will motivate yourself toward a successful career.