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Personal Growth

To Get Motivated, Track Your Progress in a Work Journal

Journaling can help you see progress and where progress needs to be made.

The days at work start to blur together after you’ve been at one job for a while. In that time, you may feel like you’re hitting the wall in the marathon of your career. So, how do people, in a number of different fields, keep boosting their motivation to tackle the day with the best they’ve got? They get excited about progress, writes Daniel Pink for Wired.

In his article, he calls on Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile and her husband, psychologist Steven Kramer to back up this statement. The team collected around 12,000 diary entries about the work 238 employees had done, and the diversity of their work spanned seven different companies. 

Pink writes:

“The single greatest day-to-day motivator — by far — was making ‘progress in meaningful work.’ On days when people made headway — whether on fixing up Buicks or stitching up bodies — their motivation and performance soared. The lesson: Relentlessly gather feedback on how you’re progressing and celebrate progress at every turn.”

While going to your boss day-in and day-out for feedback may not be the best course of action to keep up that feedback loop, you could create your own, self-regulated feedback system. Gretchen Rubin has echoed this same kind of philosophy on her happiness podcast, where she described how keeping a one-sentence journal has helped her not only stick with the habit, but also improve her life. The research would agree with her.

After listening to Rubin’s podcast months ago, I decided to apply this habit to my work life. Freelancing is often unstable and requires a lot of self-motivation. To-do lists kept me honest about the work I should be doing, but seeing everything that needed to be done stressed me out before the day even began. So, I started writing down what I had done. It proved to be a great motivator — each day I try to write more posts than the last. What’s more, it helps me track where I’m improving and what needs improvement, and the upkeep of such a habit requires little effort.

For those that work at more traditional jobs, a progress journal could be a good resource for keeping yourself honest during times when you get to thinking you’re doing more work than everyone else. It could also prove useful the next time you go to a performance review. You can have dates to help chart your progress and show how much (and how hard) you’ve worked.

Read more tips at Wired.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


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