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How to Stay Motivated When Your Career Plans Aren’t Going Well

Whether you’re an entrepreneur or climbing the corporate ladder, it can be tough to stay motivated when we don’t achieve our goals or our plans change unexpectedly.

When successes keep rolling in, it’s easy to continue, but once the progress slows, it can become incredibly frustrating. These frustrating times are when you need a plan to keep yourself from becoming discouraged.

Here are a few ways to keep motivated when your career plans aren’t going well.

1. Plan for Your Goals

Maybe you want to start a successful app, become a millionaire by the time you’re 40, be the CEO of your current company, or start your own business.

Whatever your goals are there needs to be a step-by-step plan that helps you reach the summit. It’s important to have a written plan that you can follow when you get stuck. This helps you track and assess whether or not your plan is working.

2. Make Routines and Habits Work for You

If you don’t work towards your goals each day, it’s like rolling a ball uphill. Once you stop the forward momentum, gravity kicks in and the ball rolls backwards. When we aren’t intentionally creating and maintaining productive habits it’s hard to keep motivated. What is one habit you can change in order to increase your chances of success?

3. Set Rewards During Your Journey!

It’s easier to be harsh with ourselves than it is to be nice. We’re wired to react positively to rewards, so it can be beneficial to motivate ourselves with small gifts for completing tasks, especially ones that are difficult or time-consuming.

We’re not always going to be intrinsically motivated, so you’re more likely to stay determined if you have a reward waiting at the end of an unpleasant task.

4. Watch the Self-Talk

Make sure you’re encouraging yourself and practicing positive reinforcement internally. If you find yourself being harsh and self-critical, change the way you think.

Start by saying good things to yourself about self-worth, work ethic or talent. Your thoughts will either be helpful or detrimental to your success.

5. Know Your Limits

While you shouldn’t limit yourself to tasks you can only do well, you should understand when you’ve pushed the limits of your knowledge or expertise. Once you’ve hit that limit, take the time to learn how to complete the next step, or find someone to help you.

Don’t complain that you can’t do it. Learn the task or outsource it. You’ll learn how to keep motivated when you can understand and know your limits, and also how to get past them.

6. Don’t Get Frustrated

It takes a few years to become a veterinarian, architect, or attorney. Every career requires a lot of work and patience, so it’s important that you understand the journey won’t be a quick one.

Give yourself time to succeed before you call it a failure or throw up your hands and quit. Many people fail at a task before they succeed. Part of staying motivated is keeping hope high and the frustration level low.

7. Surround Yourself with Positive People

You don’t want to spend all your time with people who let negativity hold them back. People who are successful surround themselves with others who have the same mind-set as they do.

Stay away from those who are toxic or spend all their time complaining about their life or lack of success.

8. Sleep and Healthy Living

You might be tempted to lose sleep because you have tasks to complete, but you’re more likely to stay motivated when you have a healthy balance in your life.

Don’t skip breakfast. Eat healthy foods and get plenty of rest each night.

9. Visualize the Reason

When you have a reason for your success, you’re more likely to stay motivated. This is especially true when you are in a rut in your career, or you’ve hit a sizable speed bump.

Maybe you want to achieve success because your family needs a better life, you want to cease emotionally struggling, or you want to be rich. Visualize the driving reason why you want success when you hit a bump in the road.

10. Don’t Stop Dreaming

Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group and its 400 companies, says that without a dream, you can’t achieve anything.

You have to have a dream as well as a path to that dream to see it become a reality. That dream is what will help to keep you motivated.

11. Think of Yourself as Unstoppable

When you have a conflicted self-image of your worth as a business person, it can be tough to stay motivated on a daily basis. You might fail, which can impact the positive self-talk you’ve been trying to achieve.

Learn to think of yourself as unstoppable and be committed. It’ll keep you going in the face of failures. Everyone fails, but many give up after a failure. Never forget that short-term failure is always going to precede a huge success.

In order to learn how to keep motivated, it’s important that you take some time to adjust the way you think of yourself. Limit the negativity in your life from outside sources and don’t forget to limit the disturbing self-talk that can hinder your success.

Photo credit: Pexels

Author bio: I am Amanda Wilks, the writer of this article. If you’ve enjoyed my contribution and are interested to know more about motivational career advice, please be so kind as to also visit my other contributing website, Access 2 Knowledge – the home of experts.

How to Stay Motivated When Your Career Plans Aren’t Going Well

Joe Wilner

Joe Wilner is a life coach, licensed clinical psychotherapist (LCP), and drummer from the band Yes You Are. He is also creator of You Have a Calling, a blog and online community helping people discover and pursue their life’s work and mission. Through deep and personalized coaching, he helps ambitious, creative, and spiritually minded individuals make a greater impact, grow as leaders, and design a soulful life they are inspired by.

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APA Reference
Wilner, J. (2017). How to Stay Motivated When Your Career Plans Aren’t Going Well. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 19 Jan 2017
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.