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Desperately seeking my work mojo – last seen March 2020

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Posted about 1 month ago by Dr Maggi Evans, Chartered Occupational Psychologist, Consultant and Coach, Mosaic Consulting

How are you feeling? Really? I’ve spoken to lots of people recently who are putting a brave and happy face on things, but underneath, they’re struggling, they’re feeling despondent and finding it hard to motivate themselves at work. They feel as if they’ve lost their work mojo.

The summer holidays they were looking forward to were different from what they had planned for or perhaps didn’t even happen, the hope of returning to the buzz of a shared office is fading and there’s a sense of resignation – things are going to be ‘strange’, ‘unprecedented’, ‘uncertain’ for many months to come.

Three things to try if you've lost your work mojo

People who are generally positive and optimistic are finding it tough. More and more seem to be asking themselves “where’s my work mojo gone and how do I find it again?” Here are the three tips that I share with them.

1. Be honest and kind to yourself. If you’re feeling a bit low, it can be tempting to try to brush things under the carpet, telling yourself that you need to ‘get your act together’, be positive and be grateful for what you have. These approaches all have their place, but it’s also really important to spend a bit of time listening to your mood – giving yourself some space to accept that you are finding things challenging. It can be helpful to write things down. How do you feel? What are you missing? What are you worried about? What are you finding challenging? What’s draining your energy right now, and what’s giving you energy? This is the ‘be honest’ bit. Then you need to ‘be kind’ – to accept that these feelings are a natural response to what’s going on. All of the uncertainty, change and health/economic fears play directly into our bodies experiencing a sense of ongoing threat, so it’s not surprising that we feel a bit ‘off’. You can also be kind by giving yourself some praise – others may not be giving you as much positive feedback as normal, so you may need to pause and give yourself a pat on the back, recognise what you’re doing well and celebrate it!

2. Take small steps. Look at your summary of what’s going on right now at work. It can often help to think of this as energy flows. I often think of a bath and use the language of taps (the things that give you energy) and drains (the things that let the energy seep away). Get your problem-solving hat on – how can you reduce or change the energy drains, and increase the flow through the energy taps? How could you create more taps? The answers to this will be unique to you. For some, it will be about doing more of the things they love – exercise, time with friends, reading, and in the work context it may be working on a particular project or with a specific client. For others, it will be about tackling some of the energy drains – changing your expectation that you will see your elderly relatives every day, and seeing them every two days instead or accepting that you don’t have to clean the house every day, or (this is one of mine), getting all of your ‘admin’ jobs out of the way first thing in the morning so they don’t hang over you like a cloud for the whole day. Whatever it is, choose some small steps to adjust your energy flow and see what happens.

3. Visualise. When you’ve lost your work mojo, it can be hard to imagine ever finding it again. This is where visualisation can really help you. Take five minutes of quiet time. Think back to a time when you felt ‘on fire’ – positive, successful, happy, productive, fulfilled, and spend time remembering this. Take yourself back into that moment, focusing on what you could see, what you could hear and how you felt. Try to experience those emotions again, feel the smile spread over your face, feel the energy, the lightness. Capture that feeling – it’s real and it’s part of you! Spending a bit of time each day connecting with your past work mojo will make it easier to find it in the present.

As you try out these tips it can be helpful to keep a simple diary, or mood journal, of how you feel at different times of the day. This can help you to be honest and kind, and also to take some small steps to make changes where you can. It can also help you to see the positive times, the times when your work mojo is in full swing – it might be there more often than you realise!

However, if you find that your work mojo is still missing – remember that there are other people out there who can help. You can talk with your manager, speak with your colleagues, or get in touch with counselling support if this is offered by your organisation.