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Workplace challenge: staying engaged in a sea of suck

I recently read "Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones", where I learned that habits rely on 4 key factors. Make the desired behavior:

  • Visible

  • Attractive

  • Easy

  • Pleasurable

If you want to create a good habit, you want to keep triggers for that habit visible while if you are trying to break a bad habit, you remove reminders from your environment.

I have created some routines and habits that serve me well at this time. Every day I exercise at home with weights, a pull-up bar and a gym mat. At the same time I watch videos that are educational or motivational. I usually do this before work but in the cases where I miss waking up or don't get my activity done in the morning, I make sure to complete it when I get home after work. I have a free subscription to and I also subscribe to a few YouTube channels so that I have options and do not waste time searching and deciding. I keep the weights and mat visible so that it is automatic for me when I wake up to start a video, lay out my mat and start to exercise.

I don't have the same level of control in shaping my environment to influence my behavior when I get to the office. In that setting, I am affected by the decisions and actions of others. The tone that is set for my day is dictated in part by the culture of my company and department. This is an environment where morale and trust are low and where dysfunctional behaviors get in the way of productivity. A lot of projects drift off without ever being completed and people move from one half-finished priority to the next. I have to anticipate disappointment and friction with everything that I attempt. I can't place trust in anyone to do what they say they will do or what you would expect them to do because it would seem logical for it to be their job.

How do you keep your motivation in a desert of discouragement? This hits hard when you are a social person who thrives when others are involved and supportive. My success requires creating a set of habits and beliefs that allow me to press on no matter what obstacles present themselves. A visualization for this is to imagine myself to be like a mountain stream in whose way boulders and obstacles may appear. Rather than getting frustrated or allowing momentum to slow, the stream proceeds past and over rocks on its way to the ocean. The water knows where it is going and it free from doubt or resentment as it flows to its destiny. Does the water, once it has flowed on, care about the rock it passed a mile upstream? No. Eventually, that rock may be carried to the ocean or may be eroded to harmless sand, or the river may change its course and leave the rock dry and irrelevant. That is the image I keep in mind as I chart my course and stay true to my mutable nature, regardless of the temporary hindrances (intentional or accidental) that others cause me.

I will set a reminder at the end of each work day when I shut down to "Flow like Water" and to release the day.

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