Reviving ambition without relapsing workaholism
If you are one of the many women struggling with low drive and motivation, don’t despair. But before making any drastic changes, it’s important to reflect on why you feel the way you do.
“Conditions like burnout, depression, anxiety, and physical illness or injury can affect your mood, thoughts, and behaviours in a way that can leave you feeling unmotivated and apathetic, even hopeless,” said Dr Nejad.
“If you find yourself in this state of mind, it’s important to ask for help so that you can start feeling like yourself again.”
If your lack of ambition persists, it may reflect a fundamental change in what you want for yourself and how you want to live and work. Try to remain open to these changes and respond to them with curiosity and flexibility.
“It’s natural for your drive and ambition to wax and wane based on what’s going on in your life, and it makes sense that you will have different expectations of yourself at different stages of your life,” Dr Nejad said.
“What you want today is not likely to be the same as what you wanted 10 years ago, and what you will want 10 years from now. It’s important to be aware of where you are at and adapt flexibly to these changes that happen within you and around you.”
This might look like taking time off to reflect, exploring new career options by seeking mentors in an industry you’ve always been curious about, or engaging in further studies. Or it might mean taking the leap from your current job to the exciting world of entrepreneurship.
“Many women are leaving well-paid positions to start their own businesses,” said Dr Nejad.
“I can assure you, as someone who also went out on my own, it’s more work, not less. So perhaps it’s not ambition that is waning; it’s just now we don’t view climbing the corporate ladder as the ultimate desired outcome.”
No matter how the pandemic has impacted your personal and professional life, it is important not to judge yourself for how you feel or the struggles you experience.
“Sometimes, when women want to make major (or even minor) changes in our lives, we fear that others will judge us,” said Dr Nejad.
“So, we pre-empt this by judging ourselves, labelling ourselves as lacking ambition or asking for reassurance or apologising for our choices. My advice is to back yourself.”
It’s normal to experience worry and imposter syndrome during periods of significant transition. Confiding in trusted friends and colleagues can help break out of unhelpful cycles of self-doubt.
“Consulting with a coach or psychologist can also be an effective strategy to help develop a healthier mindset and get back on track,” said Dr Nejad.
De-centring work from your identity and life could be your most ambitious step to date. Backing yourself to create a career that allows you to thrive both professionally and personally takes courage, creativity, and resilience.
It requires knowing what you want, understanding your needs and values, and then taking steps towards the life you want to lead.
“Recognise that this path may change direction from time to time, and that’s what makes life interesting,” said Dr Nejad.