Fall Back in Love With Your Job
Maybe you've been plugging away at the same job for several years and feel burnt out. Or, perhaps you're growing tired of office politics and a long commute. Whatever the reason, you've lost that spark that used to make you excited to go to work. Now it just feels like plain old, boring work. In honor of Valentine's Day, we asked career experts for their tips on rekindling career passion.
1. Take a step back.
Often we get so mired in the day-to-day details of our job, that we lose sight of the bigger picture. Bobby Umar, president of Raeallan, a transformational training and speaking company in Toronto, suggests asking your co-workers what they like about their job. "I worked many years ago as an engineer," he says. "I enjoyed lunches with colleagues and asked them about their jobs, which helped me to appreciate those things a little bit more." That perspective can help you focus on the positive and pinpoint what the real issue is.
2. Seek out new projects.
If the issue is that you aren't feeling challenged, then take the initiative to tackle something new. When suggesting new projects to your boss, Umar suggests you "position it from a place of strength. Managers will feel good about that drive and passion." Not in a position to add new projects during the workday? Get involved in something at lunch or after work. For instance, you could join the company softball team or offer to organize a canned food drive. That way you'll have a new activity to keep you engaged in the organization.
3. Ask for feedback.
Some workers grow disillusioned because they're working hard and not getting any positive reinforcement. In some cases, your boss may have no idea you're going the extra mile. That's why Vicki Salemi, career expert and author of 'Big Career in the Big City,' recommends scheduling a meeting and letting your supervisor know about your accomplishments. That's also your chance to ask for feedback. However, Salemi adds that "you're not always gonna get a pat on the back every time you do something," so expectations may need adjustment, too.
4. Set boundaries.
With Blackberries and wireless Internet, many workers feel pressure to be reachable 24/7, which can lead to burnout. "Our workdays have gotten longer; people are working from home in addition to office hours," says Salemi. She recommends "set[ting] your own boundaries. Shut off the Blackberry for the weekend. In most cases, no one's dying over this." As Salemi points out, "sometimes your best work is done when you detach [from work]."
5. Get out of the office.
Conferences, industry mixers, and other networking or professional development opportunities can help give you a fresh perspective on your industry. "Attending a conference is incredible because you have the opportunity to network with people outside of your company," Salemi says. "It gets you out of your cubicle and helps you to stay abreast of trends in the industry. Often it reminds you of why you chose that profession." Need we mention that in some cases, your employer will also foot the bill?
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Susan Johnston has written about careers for PayScale.com, The Boston Globe, Experience.com, US News & World Report, and other publications. Her articles on business and lifestyle topics have appeared in DailyCandy.com, Dance Retailer News, Pizza Today, Mint.com, Self magazine, and in two essay anthologies. She's also the author of LinkedIn and Lovin' It (Rockable Press, 2011).