When was the last time you were so passionate about your work that it didn’t seem like work at all? The truth is sometimes the thrill is gone. We’ve all been there at one time or another. You feel stuck.
One reason people are unhappy in their jobs is that they’re bored. They don’t identify it as such, but that’s the root of it. You may need to engage in some thoughtful sleuthing and inner soul-searching to figure where you can uncover new challenges and opportunities in your working life.
First, step back and appreciate what’s going right about your job. When I ask people what they love about their jobs, they generally say it’s the people they work with, a pride in the mission of their employer, the opportunity to learn new things or sometimes to travel. It’s the joy around the edges that often makes a job great.
- Begin a journal in a notebook or computer file for your “Job Remodeling.”
- Write down in your Job Remodeling journal your career and personal goals.
- Make a list of people you know who love their jobs, and ask them what they love about their work. It can inspire you.
- Write down the times in your life when you loved your job, and why.
- Write a short personal mission statement. In a few key sentences, sum up what you really want in your job. If you can do it in one sentence, all the better.
Second, take action. Don’t dwell on what’s going wrong or making you feel powerless. Do something.
- Ask for new duties. If you’re constantly doing the same set of tasks each day, the monotony alone can suck you down. So, step it up. Scrutinize your current position to pinpoint a new responsibility you can add that will refresh your focus, and maybe even scare you a little bit. Keep your ear to the ground and try to get the scoop on positions opening up, or a new project that’s on the cusp of starting—even if it is just a short-term one.
- Consider how you communicate at work. When you’re physically and emotionally present to others at work, it sparks energy and a feeling of fellowship and camaraderie. Do you fire off e-mails and texts and rarely speak to someone in person or on the phone? Make a point of stopping by someone’s office just to ask how it’s going. Let aspects of your inner personality show and wear your passion for your work on your sleeve.
- Reach out to new colleagues or those you don’t know well. Ask someone you don’t really know to grab lunch and learn about what they do and their background. Set a goal to do this kind of outreach at least once or twice a month. See if there is a volunteer effort you can lend a hand to with your work colleagues. Working on an outside effort together builds bonds.
- Look into flexible work options. Having a sense of autonomy, or being in control of your time, can ramp up job satisfaction. Do some investigating to see if your employer offers opportunities to work remotely, or telecommute on a full-time, or part-time basis. You might also seek a flexible work schedule overall where you set your own office hours to some extent. If you’re an early riser, maybe you could negotiate to come in early and leave early. If there’s someone in your office who has either kind of set-up, ask their advice on how it’s working and ways to approach your boss about the possibility. You might pitch it as a trial basis for three months, so both you and your manager can weigh in on how it’s working or tweak it, so everyone wins.
- Laugh more. A Gallup poll found that people who smile and laugh at work are more engaged in their jobs. And the more engaged you are, the happier and more enthusiastic you will be.
- Learn something new. Learning boosts your mood. It’s a state of growth. It’s energizing. Even if you have only a hazy notion of what interests you, go to the library and take out a book or two on the subject. Enroll in just one class.
Remember, finding happiness and fulfillment in the workplace doesn’t always mean a big swerve from the past, or starting from scratch in a new job or career. Even small moves can have the potential to deliver big rewards.