Work getting to be a drag? Here are 4 tips to cope with demotivation

Skip to:

Getting the Monday blues? Here’s how to get over this slump and get your drive back.

Our first few months at a job is usually a time of intense energy and enthusiasm. Especially for us newcomers, finally getting a job is a milestone in the settlement process. We are ready and eager to prove ourselves during this period.

But for some of us, this phase can be short-lived. Motivation can start to diminish when we begin to feel the realities of the daily grind. When this happens, productivity diminishes and work becomes a struggle.

Top 4 reasons for demotivation

  1. Fear of failure

    Lack of skills or knowledge can get you down and zap your motivation. You may think you don’t have perfect English which can lower your confidence and make it hard to express yourself to clients. Perhaps you’ve made a mistake at work because you’ve had to learn a new process quickly. Some may be having a hard time fitting in and are feeling alone and lonely. These situations can diminish your confidence and paralyze you with fear. Your perception can keep you from doing important aspects of your job.

    Tips to overcome it: First off, be kind to yourself. Remember, you are still learning the ropes and will be prone to making mistakes. Recognize that it is a process and it will take time before you master your job and get used to work culture. Secondly, stop blaming yourself, but take responsibility. Identify your mistakes and learn from them. And lastly, never stop honing your skills and keep learning. Take a language class, seek opportunities to socialize, get a career mentor. Be proactive about your self-improvement.

  2. You feel that your job is beneath you

    Most of us have to start from scratch career-wise when we move to Canada. Most newcomers take a lower-level job or a survival job. If you were already at the managerial or senior level in your home country, you may find this hard to accept. Sometimes you may not see the point of doing certain tasks and may be thinking: “I used to solve complex problems for my company! Now I don’t even need to think to be able to do this job!” This resentment can build and take up all your energy.

    Tips to overcome it: Change your perspective! Do not let pride get in the way of doing a good job. Remember that all jobs are noble and are therefore worth doing to the best of our abilities.

    If you are in a transitional job, see it as it is – a part of your transition. It is only a way to get your foot in the door. It is not permanent.

    Learn all that you can from the job. Nobody is too perfect that they can’t learn new skills. You could boost your English skills or gain a better understanding of Canadian workplace culture in the process. If anything, see it as a way to develop fortitude and patience. Continue looking for a better job. If you really can’t take it anymore and can afford to wait for a better opportunity, then quit. But remember, there must have been a reason why you accepted the job in the first place. Sometimes having a job you don’t like is better than having no job at all.

  3. You take on too much

  4. Are you the overzealous worker who keeps on accepting additional tasks? Too much work can lead to stress and eventual burnout. Some people think that being super busy is a sign that they are sought after and in high demand. Your boss and co-workers could be seeing this differently. They may be thinking that you are a busybody or worse, a pushover.

    Tips to overcome it: Learn to say no. Get over the desire to be in perpetual work mode. You should:

    • Say no to additional work especially when it will affect the quality and timeliness of your main responsibilities. You should not be afraid to refuse, especially when you have a valid reason. You can politely say, ”I would love to help but I need to work on ____” or “My priority is finishing ____ which I need to turn in by _____. I’d be happy to discuss helping out after.”
    • Don’t do somebody else’s job. Instead of helping, your co-worker might see it as meddling.
    • Don’t volunteer for tasks when you know that you won’t have time to accomplish them.
    • Take time in doing your main responsibilities. That is what you were hired for. Use your time to produce high-quality work. This will mark you as a competent employee.
    • Respect yourself and tend to your needs. Don’t do work outside of office hours. You will be cutting time from self-care or family-bonding. You need these moments to refresh your energy and enthusiasm for work.

    Read: 5 habits to help you achieve work-life balance for additional tips.

  5. You feel that you are not valued

    It can dampen your enthusiasm if you are feeling ignored by your boss or if you have been passed up for a promotion despite being a star performer. This can also happen if your boss does not acknowledge your suggestions nor gives positive feedback on your work. It can prevent you from doing your best and contributing meaningfully.

    Tips to overcome it: There could be many reasons for this situation. It might not be intentional. As a newcomer, your thoughts may explore darker reasons. Could it be racial discrimination? Sexism? Stop and think harder. Unless you have concrete evidence, these may not be the reasons at all. Ask yourself: Were my suggestions feasible? Maybe your boss considered it but can’t apply it at the moment. Did you directly talk to your boss and communicate your suggestions across clearly? Perhaps you were not understood. Is your boss too busy? Your supervisor is a human being too and may not have had the time to evaluate your suggestions or notice your performance.

    Ask for regular meetings with your boss if it is possible. But don’t make it all about your contributions. Instead, supply your supervisor with periodic updates on your projects. For example: “For this quarter, we were able to meet our quota and exceed it by 5%. But maybe if we target more niche markets in the south, we can expand our territory and increase our sales by about 15%.” Your boss will appreciate this because it will make their job easier – they may also be able to use your inputs for reporting. Plus, it’s a good way to tell your supervisor about your accomplishments while sliding in your suggestions.

Resist negativity!

We have a tendency to look for an escape (or someone to blame) when we are demotivated. Some take drugs or alcohol to ease their troubles. Those who do this will realize quickly that this will not solve anything. Others indulge in gossip just to get back at their boss or to feel vindicated. Have you heard of the adage, “misery loves company”? Well, it’s true. You’ll always find someone who will be willing to commiserate with you and fuel your discontent. Your gossip buddy will probably be an employee who has been there for 15 years and has no plans of quitting.

Has negativity solved anything? Nope. It can only harm your mental and physical health. If you can’t be positive, at least be objective. No job is perfect. You will always find something to complain about. To be more productive, focus on the positive things about your job like a flexible schedule, an opportunity to get out of the house and network, or even little perks like vacation pay.

Just remember, it might not be smooth sailing right now but things will get better. Evaluate your situation realistically. Assess your options. Do your best to fix the situation by changing your mindset, speaking up, improving yourself or by looking for new opportunities. Don’t waste of your time and energy in negative things. You’ve got this!


Sources: How to keep going when you are demotivated at work, Mihir Patkar, Lifehacker; Feeling unmotivated at work? 7 ways to get back in the groove, Lindsay Kolowich, Hubspot; and Three reasons why you’re unmotivated at work (and how to beat them), Melody J. Wilding, The Muse. All accessed April 4, 2018.

Back to top

We'd love to hear from you!

Please login to tell us what you think.

Related Learning Activities

WorkCom_Before you begin

A woman giving a presentation at work

Thinking about your knowledge and skills is an independent learning strategy. When you think about what you can do and what… Read more »

WorkCom_Week 4

A woman giving a presentation at work

This is our last week of Workplace Communications. This time you are in the driver’s seat. We look forward to your presentation… Read more »

WorkCom_Week 3

A woman giving a presentation at work

We have now reached week 3 of Workplace Communications! This week, we are engaging in a number of activities that allow… Read more »

WorkCom_Week 2

A woman giving a presentation at work

In week 2,  we continue practising working with others by doing a peer review. A peer review helps you develop… Read more »

Back to top

CC BY-NC-SAText of this page is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA, unless otherwise marked. Please attribute to English Online Inc. and link back to this page where possible. For images and videos, check the source for licensing information.