When work gets on top of us, it can be totally demoralising. But rather than wallow in self pity, it’s a time to get motivated. Here’s how to get your mojo back in the office…
When Austin Powers lost his mojo in the hit comedy film Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, it was all-consuming. It drained his personality to the extent that the saucy secret agent became a mere shadow of his former self. It’s the same when we lose our mojo in the office. When work gets on top of us, it can affect everything we do, from how it impacts our job to how we relate to our loved ones. When the spark goes, just like Austin Powers, we need to make it our mission to get it back!
There are many reasons why someone might be struggling at work. Being overworked is a number one cause which can lead to stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. Boredom is another factor where an employee is not being challenged enough or doesn’t know how to challenge themselves. There could be some kind of unresolved conflict with colleagues in the office which is pulling your work down, or it could be the fact that you have no clear path of how to get ahead and you’re floundering. The point is that even if you are good at your job, there are times when you might feel your quality of work is not as it should be, but rather than see yourself as failing, it’s the perfect time to question why you’re struggling.
The first sign that things aren’t quite as they should be is that Monday morning feeling. “If you’re not looking forward to work, that’s a key indicator,” says Jo Ellen Grzyb, of Impact Factory, an agency specialising in career coaching and training. “When I was in a job where I was unhappy I certainly went through a phase of not wanting to get up in the morning. Now I’m doing something I love, even if I’m tired I wake up with fresh ideas, I look forward to seeing colleagues and the journey to work.”
Making mistakes in your work is another indicator that all is not well. “If you start making ‘school boy errors’ it shows that you are just not engaged anymore,” agrees Jo Ellen. “Another sign is a diminished work load – you faff around on the internet or spend time on the phone to look busy but you’re not doing the work. In fact, staying late in the office is often an indicator that things aren’t right – you want to look busy but you are having to catch up on the work you didn’t do in the day!”
It’s easy to see how this pattern of behaviour can become a downward spiral but it’s vital that you take charge of the situation. It’s all about getting yourself out of that bubble of routine, comfort and complacency. A great quick fix is to have a change. “Step away,” advises Jo Ellen. “Take two weeks and go away or just stay at home but give yourself a breath of fresh air and time to clear your head.”
You should come back to the office revitalised, full of momentum to make some changes at work. “Something everyone can do in an organisation is to change how they are viewed at work,” says Jo Ellen. “Raise your profile by asking for support. Go to your boss and ask them to read through a document you have just written, or approach someone whom you admire and ask if you can pick their brains about something. Invite yourself to brain-storming sessions and try to get yourself a mentor, someone who can inspire you. After all, we’re happy to brainstorm with our peers, so why not someone who is two grades above you?”
Another way to revitalise yourself is to do something extra-curricular that’s nothing to do with work at all. Choose something that you enjoy doing just for enjoyment’s sake, that stretches you mentally or physically, whether it’s a Zumba class, art lessons or poetry reading. “By learning something new you’ll be stretching your brain and this will help you fell more energised,” says Jo Ellen. “I personally love gardening and have an allotment and that’s my thing for outside of work. Doing something extra-curricular will help you engage more in the office.”
If you find that taking control of the situation yourself is not working, then ask for help. A good boss will make it a priority to ensure that their workers are happy, so let your line manager know that you’re feeling bored right now, for example, and ask if there’s anything else you could be doing. “This approach generally works,” says Jo Ellen. “As a manager, I’d much rather someone came to me and said they were struggling than for them to leave with me not knowing why.”
When you find things tough at work, rather than take the easy option of quitting, explore the reasons why, then set about trying to change the pattern of behaviour you’re in. It’s amazing how energised you’ll feel by taking some control over your career – and just like Austin, you’ll soon find you’ve got your mojo back!