Secret social worker: motivation

Lila Halliday on losing motivation

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I’ve been feeling a little fed up and like I’d rather be anywhere else at work lately. This is due to a combination of things.

First of all, like a child, I just love being told what a good girl I am and new managers don’t seem to think I’m that great. I’ve always got on with my managers so it’s new and awful territory to see the underwhelmed looks on their faces when they’ve asked me to give them a twirl, usually in the form of a presentation, and my skirt just hasn’t puffed out in quite the way they wanted. I’m great at public speaking, look at me and tell me I’m great! Very brattish of me but it makes me feel bad nonetheless. I don’t know what they want from me. That’s the problem – their vision seems vague to me and nothing is good enough.

Secondly, there is change afoot and I’m not quite sure if my role will be what it is now in a few months time. I feel like investing in any long-term planning or development is futile because it could all go up in flames. I suppose this is quite common in social work. I just don’t know why it’s got to me this time.

Thirdly, my service has had a lot of criticism lately and I think it’s mostly unfounded. My staff do an amazing job and do everything they can with what they’ve got. It’s frustrating for me to sit in a meeting with all this criticism being levelled at something I and everyone around me have worked so hard for, when the people who can make it better by providing more resources are sat there pointing the finger at me.

And lastly, my home life is really great, which of course is a good thing. But what it does mean is that I would rather be at home living my actual life than sitting at work feeling like it’s not going well. For years work was my salvation. It’s where I felt in control and like I was the best version of myself. I feel like I know what I’m talking about, I have more confidence, I’m funnier at work (I have social work in-jokes locked down). I would spend more time at work because home wasn’t that great. Now the tables have turned and I love my life and work doesn’t serve the purpose it used to.

So what am I going to do? Quit and go and work in a lovely bookshop? No, I love social work! I need to reconnect with why I became a social worker – not because my mum told me I needed to get a real job but because I wanted to help people. I do still believe that what I do helps people and need to focus on that. I also need to ask the people around me what they want from me, instead of trying to guess and misfiring. I need to be more assertive in the face of criticism. And I’m going to keep my home life just the way it is. I like it that way.

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