Why Professional Motivation Matters So Much

By: Reesa Staten of Robert Half

Nike made the phrase “Just Do It” a part of the American lexicon. Nike’s goal was to inspire us to channel our inner athlete and embrace physical challenges. I would like to encourage you to push yourself in the same way — but this time, in the context of your work.

If you’re reading this, you’ve already displayed professional motivation and taken the first step toward your next career move. Dress for Success gives you the foundation wardrobe, moral support and confidence boost to shine brightly in job interviews and throughout your career. I hope you take advantage of the career resources available to you as a Dress for Success client.

Taking your first steps

It’s possible to change just about anything about your job or your career — if you take action. Your dream job or promotion doesn’t have to be just a dream. You can make it a reality. Your first steps don’t have to be big ones. Even small strides, like updating your resume and LinkedIn profile, or getting in touch with an old classmate or colleague in a field that interests you, can start the momentum. These actions require just a little effort and professional motivation — consider it the warm-up.

From there, you’re more likely to take further steps, like reviewing the job boards to see if an employer may already be advertising your dream job. Most major job search websites let you set up alerts to receive emails when a job matching your search criteria is posted.

Overcoming doubt

It’s at this point that you have to decide how serious you are about your pursuits because once you start looking, you will find jobs that appeal to you. This is often when the doubt kicks in and professional motivation stalls. All elite athletes will tell you they had to overcome the fear of failure at some point in their career. They succeeded by not letting these fears shake their confidence. Instead, they carefully prepared so that when the time came to compete, they were ready.

The same is true in your job search. Preparation will give you confidence. That means making sure you know enough about the position and the company to submit a targeted resume. It also means dressing the part, interviewing well and having good references who can attest to your abilities. If the job you want requires additional training or certification, preparation may involve gaining that added knowledge. Depending on the level of training or education, this may be the marathon portion of your journey and where your professional motivation is put to the test.

Applying professional motivation to your current job

If you’re not ready to look for a new job but instead want to advance with your current employer, ask your manager what steps you need to take to be considered for a promotion. Many people lack the confidence to talk to their boss about career growth, when, in fact, most good managers welcome these conversations. The conversation they don’t like having is the one in which a good employee resigns without ever having let on he or she longed for more responsibility. It can be a lost opportunity for both the employer and employee.

To paraphrase Isaac Newton, a body in motion tends to stay in motion. Likewise, a body at rest stays at rest. It’s easy to become complacent, either because you lack confidence or you don’t know where to begin. But even a few steps toward looking for a new job can give you the professional motivation you need to keep the search going. Small victories will empower you to take on even bigger challenges and, from there, it’s a sprint to the finish.

Reesa Staten is senior vice president of Corporate Communications and director of workplace research for
Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm. Staten has been writing job search advice for more than 15 years and oversees Robert Half’s extensive workplace research program. Write to her at [email protected].


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