How to get your career mojo back

I need to get my mojo back

A lot of the people I meet in my coaching work are at a particular point in their careers…a point of transition of some kind. And fairly often, I find myself working with people who have hit a point in their careers where they’ve just ‘lost their mojo’, they feel stuck in a rut at work and so perhaps their interest in work is starting to wane and sometimes this has led to a dip in performance, which is why the coaching has been suggested. Or it could be that they’re moving to a more senior leadership role or moving into a different business area that will take them outside of their comfort zone.

In these cases, their engagement and performance are on a high, but their employer is keen to keep it that way, hence the call for coaching as they go through the change. So how can you keep your mojo if it’s on a high, and how can you get your mojo back if it’s ebbing away. In this blog, I want to give you my top tips guide for both.

What is a ‘lost mojo’ when it comes to careers?

I’ve used the term mojo, but let’s get specific because ‘mojo’ isn’t a scientific term…in fact the dictionary tells us that it’s a term used to describe a magical, charmed item which has special powers. And I guess that’s not a bad analogy to take into our work lives – the way I’m using the term is to describe that inner feeling of ‘joie de vivre’, happiness or joy in your life, work and career. And when it disappears or starts to ebb away, that can sometimes for some people lead to a change in their mindset towards the negative which may become self-fulfilling and can create a cascade into different areas, where they may start to be more affected by things outside their control.

Over time, this can lead to a drop in confidence, self-belief, energy and career motivation and that’s when people start to describe losing their spark…their mojo. Now this is common for everyone when it’s situational and short-lived, but when this lost mojo starts to extend over time, even into the way someone is thinking about their career and even their general direction in life and starting to question it, it can become more significant.

It’s not just about happiness at work…but it helps

In helping you to identify for yourself, or for anyone who you know that is experiencing a lost mojo at work, it’s important to work out why it’s happening…what’s actually going for them that has brought them to this place – and it could involve a wide variety of factors. So my tips in helping someone regain or retain their career mojo are kind of a checklist to work through to understand what’s really going on – what’s ok for them right now and where things may have got a little off track. Some of these areas to check link to others – as I say, lost mojo can cause a chain reaction in different aspects of your life – and some are more profound than others and will take longer to get back on track. But they’re all worth considering…both to keep your mojo and to get it back.

  1. Managing stress at work

It’s pretty well-known that stress…specifically negative stress…when experienced over a long period can in the end lead to outcomes like those I’ve described. Loss of confidence, decrease in career motivation and low self-belief are all signs of burnout at work.  So the first check is to establish where your stress levels are right now, on a scale of 1 to 10 – if they’re high, then it’s worth digging deeper to find out how to reduce stress at work.

Also, if they’re super low, that might also point to a lost mojo as we all need some form of stress – positive stress – to stay engaged in what we do at work. Learning how to stay positive when stressed at work will help you keep your mojo.  For more on all this, I would recommend listening to my podcast at Season 7, episode 4, ‘Managing stress and change‘ which is all about controlling the controllables and will help you learn how to stay motivated at work.

  1. Take a 10,000 foot view of your life right now

This will help you work out, whatever your stress levels, why you might be feeling as you do. It could be that there are certain areas of your life which are just not where you’d like them to be, so time to get specific on what and why and one way of doing that is to work up your wheel of life.

That’s a wheel that you map out with different sections that you can rate to help you see which areas of your life are pretty positive right now and which may be either causing you stress or which you’re not feeling able to give enough time to right now – areas like relationships, money, career and so on – this will help give you a sense of the cause or causes of your lost mojo.  For more on this, you can google ‘wheel of life’ or take a listen to my podcast ‘How to find your purpose and why you don’t have to’ which is at Season 10, episode 11.

  1. Be clear on your direction/purpose

There’s more on this in the podcast I just mentioned but for many people, one of the main reasons that they lose their career mojo is that they’ve never really deeply considered or reflected on their career direction or purpose. In fact, it’s at a point where they do start to look around in their lives and careers and (without being too dramatic) not really recognise themselves any more that for some people that’s a career mojo wake up. You don’t have to have a burning life purpose to be career happy, but it does help if you know your general sense of direction. So as I mentioned, Season 10, episode 11 is the place to go for more on that.

  1. Check your alignment

One of the things that’s sometimes been knocked out of whack when someone feels that their mojo has left them is that one or two career decisions ago, they took a turn that was out of alignment with their values, their preferences or their interests. It’s all too often that I see this in my coaching work, particularly in the corporate world, where people are either hand-picked for new roles which they feel obliged to take because ‘that’s just how it works’ or the next obvious move just comes along and they walk into it, without really stepping back and considering whether it’s for them.

So if that sounds like you, have a closer look at your values, at your passions and interests and ask yourself whether your current career direction is offering you enough of what you love. For more on this, I have two past podcast recommends: Season 11, episode 3: ‘Do you really want to be a manager – finding a career path that fits for you’ and Season 6, episode 6: ‘Want to live longer…you need ikigai’.

That last one is about the Japanese idea of ikigai which is about finding an intersect between your passions, your skills and what you can get paid for – a surefire way to get your mojo back.

  1. Use your strengths

The main question here is ‘are you using your strengths’ in your work? For many people, they haven’t stopped to think about whether they are bringing enough of their natural talents, energy and unique approach to their role and their career, either because they’ve not thought about it or because they don’t feel there’s much opportunity to use their strengths in the work that they do, so instead they’ll use them at the weekend.

Well, I’m here to tell you that there are always more opportunities to use your strengths more of the time and just making the choice to do that can feel really empowering, which in itself may be helpful to get some of that mojo feeling back.

  1. Build a growth mindset

Don’t be too down on yourself: when things start to feel a little off-track, many of us will understandably feel panicked because there’s a threat right in front of us and we may take corrective action against that threat by trying to rise to the challenge. Trouble is, in doing that, we can become too hard on ourselves. And that drive for perfectionism can lead us to lose our mojo even more if we’re not able to get the results we’re looking for quickly enough.

Two suggestions on this: 1. Aim for progress not perfection (and there’s more on that in my podcast of the same name at Season 8, episode 6) and 2. Build a growth mindset – that’s all about seeing setbacks not as failure but as opportunity for learning and growth. And I’ve seen that mindset shift make a big difference to people who are struggling with career confidence. There’s more on growth mindset and how to build one at Season 9, episode 11.

You’ve got this – time to get your mojo back…there’s work to do

Well, I feel I’ve given you more than enough homework there with all those podcast recommends. If you’re working with someone who has lost their career mojo or if that sounds like you, rest assured, there is plenty you can do about it to get your mojo back. I wish you all the best in re-finding your mojo or keeping it loud and proud. Till next time, stay strong.