When your work day gets rough and you need a pick-me up, a mug of coffee or tea might help, but there are limits to how much liquid you can pour into your body in one day. Instead of hitting the break room again, how about hitting play on a few uplifting songs by creative, inspiring women?
The right music at the right time has the power to change your mood—and maybe even change your life, depending on just how inspired you are. I work at home, so whenever I need a boost, I put on some music and dance with my dog. For real.
If you’re working in an office or another public location, I recommend listening through headphones as you do a subtle chair dance in front of your computer.
Here’s a girl power soundtrack for working your ass off, with recommendations for uplifting songs based on your current mood. Go here for the Spotify Playlist!
Work mood: Overwhelmed by the length of your to-do list
Rihanna – “Work”
When you have so much to do that you aren’t even sure where to start, play this song, figure out your top priorities, and get focused. Whenever I hear this song, I end up with Rihanna’s repetitive “work, work, work, work, work, work,” stuck in my head for like a week—but I’m not complaining. Try it! If you’re lucky, those simple lyrics will get stuck in your head, too, and send a message to your subconscious. Get ready to have a really productive day.
Work mood: Nervous about an important meeting or a performance review
Sia – “Unstoppable”
I love this song, because it’s not just about believing in yourself, it’s about knowing that other people can see how capable and talented you are. When she sings, “I put my armor on, show you how strong I am,” take it as a reminder to put on your emotional armor before going into a situation where you may face criticism or get negative feedback. If you’re anywhere near as sensitive as I am, that emotional armor will help you take a step back from the situation and realize you don’t have to take it so personally. (Take it from someone who has cried in the office on multiple occasions—it’s never a good look.)
Work mood: Overthinking things and/or taking them too personally
Taylor Swift – “Shake It Off”
I wish I could program the internal stereo in my brain (the place where songs get stuck) to play this song whenever I’m worried or stressed about something unimportant. I can spend hours overthinking inconsequential conversations, or contemplating the hidden meaning in a two word text message. If you’re like this, too, you know it’s distracting and makes it hard to focus on the important things, like work. Instead of letting the “haters” get you down, or obsessing over an interaction from last week, take Taylor’s advice and shake it off.
Work mood: Feeling like you’re not being taken seriously
Demi Lovato – “Confident”
If you have a good idea, and the people around you don’t realize its potential, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. It might just mean that those people are afraid of change, or that they find your genius intimidating. When people aren’t treating you with the respect you deserve, or even worse – when they’re standing in your way – this song is a reminder to disregard their negativity. Play it loud, and when Demi Lovato asks that rhetorical question in the chorus, consider it a reminder that there is NOTHING wrong with being confident.
Work mood: Unproductive slacker
Britney Spears – “Work, Bitch”
I’ll admit the lyrics to this one are kind of silly. “You want a Maserati?” Um… actually, no. I’m pretty happy with my Smart car. But I wouldn’t mind looking hot in a bikini, living fancy, or partying in France—and Britney has a point that all of that stuff takes work. When I hear her in my ears saying, “You better work, bitch,” I know she’s not being mean. She’s just being honest about the fact that it’s not really possible to slack your way to your dreams. Whatever it is you want to achieve, come up with a plan, and then, as Britney says, “Get to work, bitch!”
Work mood: Angry enough to quit on the spot
Selena Gomez – “Kill ‘Em with Kindness”
Some work days are harder than others, but if you’re tempted to leave and never come back, take a deep breath and listen to Selena Gomez drop some wisdom. When she sings “Put out the fire before igniting,” she’s pointing out that getting angry isn’t your only option. If a coworker is treating you in an unprofessional way, have a private talk with your supervisor or someone in H.R. If the problem is unfixable, start looking for a new job, but until you have one, try to stay on good terms with the people who could potentially give you a recommendation. Kill ‘em with kindness now, and in the future, you’ll be able to make ‘em jealous of your success.
Work mood: Determined to start setting boundaries
Megan Trainor – “No”
While I realize that Megan Trainor is singing about rejecting a guy who’s hitting on her too hard in a club, I find this song valuable in a work context. As a freelancer, I sometimes say “Yes” to more projects than I can handle, because I don’t want to let anybody down. One of my goals this year is to get a better handle on my schedule (I’ve worked too many weekends recently), and that means I have to start saying “No” more. I’m sure I’m not the only working woman in the world with this issue, so let’s look to Megan as a role model. When she sings, “Nah to the ah to the no, no, no,” she makes saying “No,” sound easy—and fun.
Work mood: Over it
Pink – “Try”
Pink is singing about taking chances with love, but I feel like her lyrics also apply to taking risks in your career. If you’re stuck in a rut, play this song, and really listen. At one point, she sings, “When you’re out there doing what you’re doing, are you just getting by?” and I feel like what she’s really saying is, “Don’t settle! You owe it to yourself to dream bigger.” Yes, when you try new things, there’s a potential downside. You might be a total failure or get your feelings hurt—but then again, you might succeed. No matter what happens, “You gotta get up and try, try, try.”
Want even more uplifting songs from strong lady bosses? Check out our list of empowering song lyrics every woman needs to hear.
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