I asked some friends and tweeps how they stay motivated, and what they came back with was so utterly perfect and brilliant, I had to share it:
Love your job, set small daily goals (Lindsay Wilson, friend): "In general, it helps that I love my job and that I am always eager to become better at it. The idea that I still have so much to learn inspires me to work harder. I keep motivated on a day-to-day basis by setting small goals like, 'get X done by noon,' and then rewarding myself."
Let your co-workers motivate you, make to-do lists (Celeste Camano, friend): "My co-workers motivate me. I like the energy of a busy environment. Having a to-do list also helps. Wanting to cross things off is a good way to stay motivated."
Focus on the big picture (@MarketMotivated, tweep): "I think about why I do what I do and try to find some meaning bigger than myself."
Look back at work you're proud of (@Anita172, tweep): "I flip through my book because it symbolizes completions. It makes me feel proud of myself."
Muster up your willpower (@JennCloud, tweep): "Goodness.... Sheer willpower sometimes."
My takeaway? Remember why you love what you do. A career path always has its ups and downs. For a lot of people, right now is a down time, but it won't always be that way. Think about where you hope to be in 10 years, and remind yourself that what you're doing now is a necessary step to getting there. Like @JennCloud said, sometimes you just have to muster up your steely resolve and power through.
It helps to have something -- an ad you love, a quote -- that reminds you of your goals. For me (as much as I'm embarrassed to admit it), it's the song "Don't Rain on My Parade" from the musical "Funny Girl." Whenever I feel uninspired, I put it on, and it reminds me not to let anything get in my way.
If you're overworked and underpaid, remember that more work means more experience, and even though it may seem like a drag, you're building skills much faster than you would with a light workload. Once the economy picks back up, you'll be worth ten times what you were before.
Support your co-workers, because they need you as much as you need them. If you're unemployed, find other people in the same situation and get together to apply for jobs and bounce ideas around.
Also, just about everybody I interviewed said there's nothing like a good, strong cup of coffee when you need a quick dose of motivation, and I agree -- robustly.