How to Boost Morale When You’re Working Alone
posted on September 22, 2020 | by Sanhita Mukherjee
You put together a fantastic deck, send it to that hard-to-impress client, and receive glowing feedback. Now, normally you’d swivel around to share the great news with your team. Perhaps your manager would drop by your desk to congratulate you on the job well done, and your work BFF would decide that this calls for celebratory drinks come 5 PM. But given that you’re working from home (for what seems like forever), none of these things happen. Deflated, you get back to your emails.
Sound familiar? Whether you are working from home because of the lockdowns or because you have just recently started out as a self-employed person, these last few months may have had a particularly brutal impact on your work morale. While you know that doing good work will be rewarding for you in the long term (like when those yearly reviews roll around or your business becomes successful), moments like these can be quite discouraging.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. As someone who’s been working by herself for a couple of years now, there are a few things I’ve learned to do to keep myself motivated and excited about my work. Today, I’d like to share them with you.
Acknowledge the small wins
We are programmed to see the truly big achievements as the ‘real’ wins — a promotion, a great new job offer, or a big pay raise. But when I started working for myself, I quickly realized that there were these little moments that made me feel great about my work too. And that’s probably true for you as well.
Picked up a new professional skill? That’s a win. Finally finished a big task that was weighing on your mind for days? That’s a win too. Cleared out your inbox? You are killing it today! If you are self-employed like me, these small wins can also look like connecting with others in your industry or getting a new lead.
While it is important to strive for the big goals, it is equally important to acknowledge and celebrate these little wins — especially when there’s no one else around to do it for you. So the next time something happens that makes you feel particularly happy and satisfied with your work, take a moment to savor that feeling. You can also celebrate them in little ways — maybe cook your favorite meal that day or order that decadent dessert you’ve been craving.
Treat yourself for the big ones
When the big achievements do come around, make sure you celebrate or commemorate them in some way. When I start working with a new client, I always treat myself with something nice — even if it is something as small as new nail polish, a book, or some fancy stationery. That way, every time I use that ‘gift,’ I immediately remember why I got it and the way I felt that day.
Depending on what you are celebrating, your treat can be as simple or as grand as you like, but it’s always a good idea to reward yourself with something that’s on the same scale as your achievement. So for instance, if you have worked hard for months to make that new project a success, don’t just take a nap and call that your treat! And don’t put it off for too long, or else the exultant mood will wear off — and when you do eventually find the time, that reward will seem like a guilty splurge rather than a celebration.
Share any happy updates with loved ones
Ever tossed a peanut in the air and caught it in your mouth in the first go? Or lobbed something across the room and had it land directly in the trash can? If so, you’ll know that these things feel doubly awesome when someone watches you do it! The same goes for work achievements.
When you’ve had a great day at work, don’t hesitate to tell the people who are your biggest cheerleaders — whether that’s your parents, your partner, or your friends. While the bigger accomplishments like a promotion or a new title can wait for a more formal announcement or a LinkedIn update, these are the people you can talk to about the little things that got you there. Not only will they be happy for you, but it will also help you amplify that celebratory mood.
Take the occasional ‘day off’
By a day off, I don’t mean a weekend or a national holiday when you were anyway not supposed to be working. Nor do I mean a day that you fill up with chores and errands. I mean a fantastic, honest-to-goodness lazy, gloriously unproductive day when you do only the things that make you happy. For me, that means waking up late, making myself a tall stack of crepes slathered with Nutella, and then going for a swim later. Oh, and there are lots of books too.
Irrespective of what this looks like for you, make sure it is a day when you actually give yourself a mental break. Set your out-of-office notifications, shut down your laptop instead of putting it on sleep mode, and avoid the urge to ‘quickly check-in’ on anything work-related. And then fill up the day with the things and activities you enjoy but don’t usually find the time for. Somehow, it feels that much more refreshing and motivating when it’s in the middle of a random week when everyone else is at work!
Hope these tips help you navigate this whole working alone business. Good luck!