Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Staleness Trap

Every couple of years I find myself losing motivation. Usually a promotion or exciting project will come up to interject some much needed life into my job. What do you do when you find yourself in a stale situation?

Get Creative

I believe everyone will eventually find the easiest way to go about their day. This is helpful for awhile it makes us more productive and effective. After time the excitement and challenge disappear leaving us bored. I often believe that when I’m in a rut it’s because I feel uninspired, lazy and unmotivated.

An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. –The Law of Inertia, Isaac Newton

The unbalanced force here is creativity. It is difficult and an unnatural feeling to change directions, but this is what we must do. Here are some items and or questions to ask yourself to spur creative ways to get of your rut:

  • Am I really doing the best job I can? Being a father, I find it even more helpful to ask myself, "am I doing the best job I can do for my kids?
  • What things can I improve here that I normally just ignore?
  • What pie in sky ideas would I like to accomplish here?
  • Is there a training course I can take that would give me more responsibility and new challenges?
  • Go outside of your normal role and look for fun things you’d enjoy doing and ask if you can do them.

Get Motivated

Once you have some ideas to work on you need to get motivated (check out this post on

Here are several ways I get myself motivated to make a change:

  • Make a public commitment (tell others your intentions so you have some accountability)
  • Plan your goals to accommodate your change.
  • Daily Reminders
  • Set deadlines if possible
  • Think positively (Avoid negative thoughts, learn from failures)
  • Read anything you can get your hands on about the change you are trying to make, this reinforces the momentum of change.

Within a few days of setting your new direction you should start to feel better. If not maybe you need to examine other aspects of your life.

Be proactive

I believe that unless permanent changes are made in the way you live your life you found yourself in this trap again. How can you prevent the staleness trap? The following are experimental ideas that I’m in the process of testing now:

  • Set a reminder once a month or week if need be to review your contentment. This reminder will hopefully keep you mindful of what is going on and trick yourself into not repeating the same mistakes.
  • I read somewhere (I’d tell you where if I remembered) that Benjamin Franklin kept a journal and at the end of each day would record his progress about personal development goals. I believe this is an excellent idea to help not only with keeping the freshness in your work but in continually growing as a person.