If you are doing a job which you used to love with a passion, but now leaves you uninspired and performing less well than you are used to, you might be feeling as if you have ‘lost your mojo.’ Rest assured you are not alone. I’ve worked with senior leaders, self-employed entrepreneurs and creatives, and committed third-sector employees who all relate a similar struggle to engage with their job, role, profession or product. The conversation often starts something like this:
‘I don’t know what is wrong with me, I’ve just lost my mojo. I don’t get it ‘cause I used to love what I do…I’ve always been a high performer, now people are beginning to ask questions about whether I have it in me or not…some days I just don’t feel like even going to work.’
There are many reasons why you might have arrived at this point: you could be burnt-out after too long working too hard. Or frustrated because you’ve reached a learning plateau and feel bored with your job. Alternatively your values may have changed and your work doesn’t provide enough meaning anymore. Sometimes your focus at work suffers when a significant life event takes an emotional toll or you simply don’t get enough of what really matters to you – time with family, in nature or pursuing personal interests.
Whatever the cause it is likely that the dynamics of your situation are complex, and it may not be obvious where to start unravelling them. My advice is to begin with yourself, rather than the dilemma facing you.
Take care of your energy and it will take care of you
It is difficult to find clarity, let alone take important decisions when your energy is depleted or if you are in a negative frame of mind. So this the place to start if you want to get back to embracing work with wholehearted enthusiasm. When energy is abundant and positive the right options present themselves effortlessly and we can recognise the right path to take.
So taking steps to support your well-being and refresh your state of mind is critical before you start problem solving. Taking time out, practicing mindfulness and presence, playing more of your favourite sport or changing your diet and life-style habits can all be helpful. If you are tied into a demanding job or family circumstances this will not be straightforward. Regardless, empower yourself to choose wellness, for unless you do progress will be elusive.
Self compassion and curiosity will move you on
The realisation that our performance at work is dropping off along with our level of engagement brings difficult emotions: panic, shame, guilt. That little voice inside which pushes us to seek perfection and chides what it sees as failure chatters more and more loudly. This does not serve us well, our confidence deteriorates and the pressure we heap on ourselves to up our game adds to our burden.
Finding a way out of the tunnel we are in requires us to find self-compassion. It really is OK to not be on the ascendant. We need to remember that whenever we feel discomfort we are always on the brink of a breakthrough in our lives when there is learning to be had. If we are kind to ourselves our minds stay open and curiosity helps us access new wisdom. Self-compassion and curiosity moves us on. Self criticism and self-blame keep us where we are.
Be prepared to take an emotional and spiritual journey
When people come to work with my herd of horses, with any developmental agenda, it is incredible how the horses get to the truth, very quickly. Clients arrive with ideas about why they are demotivated and what they need to do about it: ‘I need some new responsibilities’, ‘I must learn to influence the Board more effectively to get the job I’ve always craved’, or ‘I need to be better at delegating so my team can take some of the pressure off me.” And while these aims will all be relevant to a degree, the horses generally guide us to look deeper. Perhaps there are other more fundamental questions to be asked:
To what extent am I able to express my opinions, needs and emotions openly and clearly both in personal and professional relationships? Have I been maintaining a facade, at the expense of authenticity? Is this why I am exhausted? Am I spending too much energy on being someone I am not?
To what extent do I numb myself to the stresses I encounter in my life? In order to not feel the difficult emotions have I got used to suppressing them? In dumbing down the uncomfortable feelings, have I also stopped myself experiencing the uplifting ones which motivate?
Am I in the right kind of work at all? Have I been drawn down my career path by other people’s expectations and projections, rather than my own desires? Or driven by false friends: the need to please others, to acquire status or material goods, to have control or to stay safe?
Such are the profoundly life-changing questions which you might find yourself asking when you let a horse guide you back on track. By courageously delving into the depths of your disillusionment, rather than scolding yourself for it, you take the first step to discovering, or re-discovering, a meaningful connection with your purpose. This is where true fulfilment lies. This is where you will always be at your best. And then, what a great gift it will turn out to be, the day you lost your mojo.
_Pam Billinge, together with her herd of horses, offers transformational coaching for individuals and organisations.
She is author of The Spell of the Horse, Stories of Healing and Transformation with Nature’s Finest Teacher, published by Blackbird Books, and available on Amazon, Goodreads and on order from all good bookstores._**