As I write in my new book,Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness, it might be that your path to promotion isn’t there — or not clear. You feel like you’re trapped in a dead-end job. You’re bored. You don’t see eye to eye with your boss.
If you feel this way, you’re not alone. According to research by Gallup, less than one-third of employees in the United States feel engaged at work.
Just saying “take this job and shove it” probably isn’t the best solution — particularly if you’re over 50 and don’t have a new job lined up or haven’t saved enough to retire.
But you can learn to “take this job and love it” and rediscover joy in your current position.
Consider tapping the five qualities of my HOVER approach: hope, optimism, value, enthusiasm and resilience — to create the change you want.
Believe that you can reach your goals, and you will find a way to do so. Ask yourself, “What can I do to improve myself on the job?” and not “What can my boss do for me?
Don’t dwell on what’s going wrong or making you feel powerless. Make a list of all of the things you love or ever did love about your job. Trust me, there are still things that are good. It can be as simple as enjoying spending time with your coworkers or believing in the mission of the organization.
Or you might love the special assignments that take you out of your comfort zone. Sometimes the best jobs are the ones that scare us a little at times. But when our jobs start to weigh on us, it’s easy to forget that we once enjoyed those magic moments.
When you’re optimistic, you have resources that you can tap to take action and to see possibilities and solutions to problems at work. Having a can-do approach helps you to bounce back quicker from rejection and to resist the urge to give up. It also opens your eyes to how you can bring about change, not how you can’t.
Focus on what’s going right and stop thinking so much about what’s going wrong or could go wrong.
Keep a “good” list, or a gratitude list, and use it to reset your day — every day. Optimism flows from gratitude. Thankfulness is a great antidote to what ails you.
Reach out and thank someone who made your work shine. I try to think of at least one work-related thing I am grateful for each day. Since I work at home, it can be as simple as reaching out to a colleague on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. Interactions with others, even virtual ones, can get you unstuck and make you feel as if someone notices you and your work.
Have the inner confidence to know that if you put out the effort, you will get results or see progress. Value your own work, skills and talents. Believe in yourself.
Keep learning new things. The people I know who really enjoy their work regularly get involved in learning or self-improvement efforts.
When you’re learning, you pay attention to the world around you. You notice things. You listen more closely. If you can just do one thing to make a change right now, learn something new.
Challenge yourself to study new things related to your job. Adding new skills can lead to new responsibilities at work and make you a more valuable employee.
Chart out a plan to upgrade your game and set long- and short-term goals. You might take a class to sharpen your skills or learn new ones. Seek out professional development and training opportunities offered by your employer. Upgrade your technology skills. Take advantage of online learning sites such as TED, Khan Academy and lynda.com.
When you’re enthusiastic, people want what you have. They want to be around you. They want you to be on their team. Enthusiasm is infectious. It boosts your energy and helps you tackle changes.
Your attitude is something you have control over. You can choose to be upbeat. Having a positive attitude and desire to learn, and staying up to date with various skills and technology, help you to stay relevant and competitive in today’s workplace — as well as maintain an edge.
Even if you feel like a cog in the middle of a big organizational wheel, you can run your career like a one-person business. Think of yourself as an entrepreneur with your employer as your main client. Think of ways you can make yourself more valuable to your company by expanding the range of “products” or skills you offer.
When you’re resilient, you resist the urge to get stuck in the past and to be discouraged by failure or adversity. Instead, you bounce back and focus on the future.
Look at the big picture. Let go of your preoccupation with this week and think about how success might look for you five years from now.
Step away from your desk and meet new people at work. Learn what they do and how they contribute.
Get up to speed in your industry. Set up a Google search so you can read articles about trends and news events.
Finally, get in shape. Build the strength you need to truly succeed emotionally, personally and professionally in your work life. Eat healthfully and work out a few days a week. When you are fit, you have more energy. You’ll feel good and have a positive mind-set to start making changes.
Kerry Hannon, AARP jobs expert, is a career transition expert and an award-winning author. Her other books include What’s Next? Finding Your Passion and Your Dream Job in Your Forties, Fifties and Beyondand Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy … and Pays the Bills.Follow her on Twitter @kerryhannon.