In the post-holiday-letdown season (otherwise known as the month of January), it’s not uncommon to be feeling a lack of career motivation. Maybe it’s the extra holiday weight dragging you down (Santa didn’t really need all those cookies, right?!). Or perhaps it’s that miserable, persistent cold that’s devouring your energy. When you’re feeling drained and unmotivated, it can be hard to get out from under the covers, let alone tackle those pesky new year’s resolutions.

If this sounds like you, don’t beat yourself up. Every now and again, we all feel unmotivated and need what I like to call a little  “career tune-up.”

Read below for three simple ways to increase your career motivation in 2020:

Accept your feelings

You’re feeling, well, just bla. Maybe there’s a specific reason. Maybe there’s no reason at all. Regardless, one of the worst things you can do is minimize, or even dismiss your feelings completely. Let yourself feel what you need to feel. For a couple days. They key is to accept your feelings and then do something about them.

If you’ve got no particular reason to feel unmotivated in your job, that’s okay. Maybe you just need to give yourself some more time to get over the hump. Just be careful not to let yourself sit in the “bla-ness” for too long. Seek the help of a medical doctor, therapist, or coach if needed. These types of trained professionals can do wonders for quickly identifying the root cause of your feelings, as well as providing you with support and steps toward getting the problem under control. There is no shame in admitting you need help.

Change your internal monologue

I hate my job. My co-workers are all idiots! I’m not smart enough. This year is going to SUCK. 

Have you ever stopped to think about the messages you give yourself on a daily basis? Pretend you have a tape recorder and it transcribed all of your internal dialogue for a day. What would it sound like? Happy? Sad? Miserable? Hopeful? Paying attention to your internal dialogue can be incredibly important and enlightening.

I’ve coached thousands of clients over the last 15 years, and what I’ve discovered is that most people have no idea how much control they actually have over their thinking. Thoughts are incredibly powerful and can determine whether you will take positive or negative actions in your career. Next time you find yourself saying something that’s not very nice to yourself, STOP. Replace it with something nicer. Something more hopeful. You will be amazed at how quickly you feel better.

Escape your comfort zone

Are you feeling uninspired or bored with your job? Even if you are relatively happy in your career, everyone feels indifferent sometimes. You’re not alone. Try to figure out why you’re feeling ho-hum. Volunteering to take on a new work project can feel daunting and scary at first, but it might be just the thing to snap you out of your funk.

Learning a new skill can also be inspiring and empowering, not to mention good for “future-proofing” your career. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2018 revealed that roughly 50% of US workers will need to acquire new skills to keep pace with today’s rapid technological advancement. Try to choose a skill you’re excited to learn, versus something that will just feel like one more “to do” on your long list.

Is there a passion you have that you’ve always wanted to pursue? What’s stopping you? Fear? Lack of time? There’s always going to be a reason not to do something. You have to push past your fears and reservations and “should’s” and just. do. it. There are lots of ways to fulfill your passions that don’t involve taking a huge risk (like quitting your current job, selling your house, and moving to the Bahamas).

According to a recent Bankrate study, nearly half of Americans have side hustles. Side hustles are awesome because they allow you to do two important things: try a new career or passion with minimum risk and earn a little extra cash. If you choose something that you’re genuinely interested in, your side hustle will probably inspire you rather than leave you feeling more drained at the end of the week.

Practice self-care

Can you remember the last time you actually took a lunch break? Are your vacation days sitting unused like a dusty, forgotten book? If you can relate, you might need to evaluate your work-life balance. Long-term, it’s important to determine if your current employer or work situation will allow you to achieve the type of balance you are seeking. Short-term, try the following strategies to achieve better work-life balance:

  • Take regular breaks from work. Whether it’s looking forward to a lunch away from your desk a couple times per week or a short walk in between meetings, taking even just 20-30 minutes a day for yourself can do wonders for your energy and morale.
  • Communicate clearly with your supervisor or manager about what you are willing to do. For example, are you willing to respond to emails on the weekends and / or after business hours? If you communicate with your work during your vacation and time off, that’s what will be expected of you.

Try not to wait until you are miserable in your career to take action and make changes. Even the most satisfied professionals need to “work” at staying healthy and motivated in their jobs. Taking small steps periodically toward self-improvement in the short-term will have dramatic effects on your long-term career motivation and success!