In our careers, it’s inevitable that at some point we’ll find ourselves coasting along on autopilot.
The excitement we once had for our jobs gets replaced with indifference, a poor attitude, and a lack of motivation. And when we find ourselves not as fired up about our jobs as we once were, the go-getters inside of us can get buried away. It can even reach the point where your colleagues or boss begin to wonder how committed you are to your work.
Sound familiar? It does for me. Not only have I been there myself, but I’ve also witnessed this moment time and time again as a coach. Over the last decade, as a workplace speaker and success coach, I’ve traveled around the world working with employees and leaders at organizations of all sizes who feel like they’ve fallen into complacency—and lost the drive to be bold.
It’s what inspired me to write my book, Stop Living on Autopilot, which asks readers a powerful question that I often use to help my clients get back on track. I call it “the last 30 days” exercise and it goes something like this:
Based on your last 30 days of work, if your company had to decide whether or not to rehire you, would they?
Before you answer, think back to when you got your current job. Remember how nervous you were during the interview process? How about that feeling of excitement that pulsed through your body when you got the call that you’d landed the job or when the paperwork was complete? Can you remember how fired up you were during the first week on the job and even those first few months? How much of that person still exists? Are they still in there?
Next, honestly evaluate your past 30 days of work. Where do you stand? What got you to where you are that you’ve since stopped doing? Are you playing to win or playing not to lose? And ultimately, would your company rehire you?
Here are five additional questions to dig into to help you assess if they would:
- Has good enough replaced great? Do you ever go above and beyond on projects, or do you stop at just good enough?
- Does getting promoted seem like a burden? Do you balk at the idea of taking on new challenges because you’re too comfortable and fear shaking things up? Do you feel tired, complacent, and disengaged from the organization’s goals?
- Have you stopped building relationships? Have you noticed that people stopped inviting you to lunch, happy hours, or outings because you always decline?
- Have you stopped taking action on your ideas? When you get new ideas, do you act on them or do you let them gather dust in a notebook or on a hard drive?
- Have you stopped learning? Do you get excited about developing new skills, or are you checked out to the point where you don’t feel as sharp as you once did?
If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, don’t panic. It’s normal to feel demotivated sometimes, especially in the face of major challenges (such as a global pandemic or a difficult period in your personal life). The goal is to assess what changed—and then attempt to recapture some of that early excitement.
So let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine you started your job today with the experience you have now. Envision the opportunities you could take advantage of and the powerful difference you could make.
Write those things down and read them over. What excites you the most? Because these aren’t hypotheticals. This is your present-day situation. You can pursue those opportunities and strive to make those changes right now. Yes, it takes work. And no, it might not all come to fruition without obstacles or setbacks. But ask yourself this: Are you OK with the alternative of giving up?
The “last 30 days” question holds a mirror up to the things in our career that we generally sweep under the rug. Well, it’s time to pull the rug up, recommit to your work, and show up like the amazing professional you are.
This excerpt was adapted from Stop Living on Autopilot: Take Responsibility for Your Life and Rediscover a Bolder, Happier You. Copyright Antonio Neves 2021. It has been republished here with permission by author.