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Three habits of super productive and happy workers


At the start of a new job, the rush of excitement for a fresh environment, different projects and a whole new experience might give workers a productive burst of motivation for the first few weeks or months. But soon after, that initial drive from external sources typically fizzles out.

For professionals who truly love what they do, job burnout isn’t an issue because they understand that they can’t rely on outside sources for their own motivation indefinitely. Instead, they cultivate an intrinsic sense of excitement in their work.

In his new book, Intrinsic Motivation: Learn to Love Your Work and Succeed as Never Before, internationally recognized human performance expert Stefan Falk explains that a personal cultivation of excitement is crucial to work happiness and longevity.

When we focus on exciting outcomes, we start a virtuous cycle of motivation and reinforcement that allows us to love any, and every, aspect of our jobs.

Drawing on thirty years of client experience with top business executives, special ops in the armed forces and professional athletes, Falk reveals three key habits and attitudes of professionals who love what they do:

  1. Never go to work “running on autopilot”

Coming into work with an “autopilot” mindset is a surefire way to settle into complacency. “Autopilot” allows us to shut our brains off and makes it easier to sink into boredom as we go through our familiar daily tasks.

For those who love what they do, “boring” is simply not in their vocabulary. Even when facing the most tedious tasks that they’ve done a thousand times over, professionals who are determined to cultivate a sense of excitement in their work set deliberate goals daily.

These goals are there to help them develop a sense of growth, which feeds into a cycle of continuous motivation to improve, rather than stagnate.

  1. Figure out what is strategically important and prioritize it

When identifying what it is about their jobs that excites them, these professionals are also identifying what they should be focusing on for their development.

It’s crucial to understand what is “always important” in our role, what is a “game-changer” for our development, and what simply isn’t as important right now.

Setting aside everything in the last category eliminates the stress of having to worry about it and gives us time to focus on what is actually important and exciting.

If we fail to prioritize, we can also get easily distracted by a lack of direction. Distraction is a sign that we are focusing on things we can’t influence. We’ll find ourselves stressed out and drained by something out of our control, rather than working on the parts of our job that we love and can influence.

  1. Don’t simply set goals; make a plan for them

It’s not enough to simply set goals, we also must achieve them in order to build up a sense of accomplishment and excitement about our work.

This may be easier said than done, but there are no truly complicated tasks, only complicated ways to think about them.

Complicated thinking is the result of too little planning. These situations can be daunting for anyone, even those that deeply love their work and seem like they’re always up to a challenge. Being able to successfully break down these kinds of difficult tasks is key to pushing through and overcoming paralysis.

They might even damage our sense of self-confidence, but intrinsically motivated people see this as an opportunity to motivate themselves.

It’s a chance to learn from a mistake or overcome a particular weakness, which can give an extraordinary confidence boost that fuels intrinsic motivation even further.

According to Falk, learning to love your work isn’t a passive pursuit. It takes effort and practice to develop and maintain a sense of excitement that can sustain us.

Nothing will keep our attention, interest and excitement as much as our own personal investment in our work.

Falk tells us to lean into that effort and challenge because that is where the greatest growth and sense of accomplishment, will happen.

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