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“Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”: How to Stay Inspired in Your Workday

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In 2011, I co-founded Women LEAD, a non-profit that provides young women in Nepal with the skills, support and opportunities to become leaders in their schools and communities. Although all our programs are in Nepal, I am based in Washington DC, focused on our fundraising, communications and partnerships. The girls we work with are hugely inspiring: I can’t help but smile when I see a photo of them goofing off at our office, and when I go to Nepal once a year, I enjoy sitting with them and discussing their career goals and dreams.

The vast majority of my work, however, does not involve being with our girls. I am often writing a grant, responding to emails, or attending meetings. Like many workers, a good portion of my day is spent at a desk behind a computer. It can be hard to stay motivated when you do the same thing day in, day out.

Here are some tips to stay inspired in your work routine:

1. Post a photo, quote, or word up in your workspace that reminds you of your ultimate goal or vision

Women LEAD’s ultimate vision is for women and girls to lead alongside men in all sectors in Nepal. That vision can often get lost in the daily rush to make deadlines and cross things off my to-do list. You may have a vision for your career, or a goal you want to accomplish in your current position. Posting a reminder of that in a place where you can see it every day will be the little boost you need to keep going through the workday.

I have a photo of one of our Women LEAD graduates right by my desk. Her optimistic outlook and boundless potential reminds me of why my work is important.

2. Challenge yourself to learn more about the tasks you have been assigned and to go above and beyond in every task

Some tasks may simply not be your cup of tea, but challenging yourself to learn more about the tools you are using can be useful for your professional development. Learning how to use Salesforce or Photoshop in depth, for example, might feel tedious at first, but will ultimately benefit you in the long run.

One of the quotes that I love is from Kate White, former editor of Cosmopolitan and writer of the career book “I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This.” She writes that for every project we are responsible for, we must ask ourselves: “How can I make this bigger, better and bolder?” It can seem difficult to make a report or memo exciting, but always make sure you have produced your best work. Show that you hold all your work to a high standard, no matter how small or mundane the task.

3. Keep a work journal to keep track of your accomplishments and professional growth

We often lose track of hours and days when we keep our head down and grind out our work. Accomplishments, especially the small ones, get lost in the shuffle. We think only big accomplishments should be celebrated: the promotion, or the completion of a long project. Note and celebrate the small victories. Try to write daily, or weekly, in a work journal to notice what makes you feel passionate about your work, what brings you down, or what patterns you have fallen into. On days where you feel low and unmotivated, you can always look back to the moments when you felt motivated at work to pick yourself back up.

4. Consume, Connect and Create

Scott Dinsmore, creator of the Live Your Legend community, encourages a daily practice of “Consuming, Connecting and Creating.” Consume as much information about your industry by reading blogs, following influential people on Twitter, and setting a Google alert related to your work. Reading about the latest news in your industry will keep you informed of opportunities for you to develop professionally. Connect to people through networking events and groups, not only to keep your network fresh, but also because hearing about peoples’ latest projects and side hustles will keep you motivated to pursue your own career goals. Finally, creating (by writing in your journal, taking photos or any other creative endeavor) allows you to reflect on your work and recharge.

What are your tips to stay inspired during the workday?

Photo: Thinkstock

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