When it comes to your job, have you “lost that loving feeling”? Once upon a time, you were buzzing with energy and ideas. You were fully invested and willing to go above and beyond the call of duty. But as it turns out, your job isn’t a one-way ticket to happily ever after. These days, you feel like your passion has dried up and you wonder how to get your enthusiasm back.
You are not alone. With the economy in low gear, many workers are stuck in less-than-desirable jobs. U.S. job satisfaction is at its lowest level in two decades, according to a report recently released by the Conference Board, a private research group. Only 45 percent of the 5,000 U.S. households surveyed say they are satisfied with their jobs, down from 61 percent in 1987.
If discontent is eating away at you, read on for practical tips to help you renew your enthusiasm and sense of passion at the workplace.
Re-evaluate your career
What do you need that you’re not getting at your job? Do you need more challenge? More social interaction? More variety? A better boss? Think about what needs to change in order for your job to have more appeal for you.
Create small manageable goals
Not everything you dislike about your job can be changed, but some things can. Focus on what can change and take proactive steps to improve your work experience.
Even small improvements can help you to feel more empowered and excited overall. For example, if you yearn for more social interaction, ask some co-workers out to lunch or coffee. Need more variety? Pin point specific ways you can start expanding your role. If your boss is a total jerk, try to find new strategies to deal with him or her.
Think of it all as an experiment. Play with it. See what works and what doesn’t.
Shake up your routine
Routine and boredom often go hand and hand. Adding a little variety to your day might be just what you need. Go for a quick walk in the afternoon. Eat your favorite snack. Hit the gym during lunch. Talk to someone new.
Give yourself incentives
Don’t wait for your co-workers to give you a sense of validation. Cheer yourself on. When you have a difficult project ahead of you, find a way to reward yourself after you complete that task. Think up something that would really brighten your day and give it to yourself. Celebrating all those small successes can help you recognize what’s going right.
Build new skill sets
Learning a new skill is a great way to fire up your curiosity and feel inspired again. It also makes you a more valuable employee. Whether you read a new book, browse industry blogs, take a class, or simply ask more questions on the job, find a way to keep growing and increasing your knowledge base.
Spice up life outside of work
Your job will feel like less of a burden if you have other outlets that fulfill you. Try a new exercise routine, sign up for an art class, or start a new hobby. Having something to look forward to at the end of the day will help you stay more upbeat at work.
Surround yourself with positive people
If you find that your co-workers continually drag you down with persistent negativity, it’s critical that you turn to other positive people in your life for support. Meet your funniest friend for happy hour. Plan a movie date. Volunteer with a nonprofit. Fill your life with positive influences.
Get a reality check
Talking honestly with your friends about their jobs can give you a much-needed reality check on working life. When you hear about other people’s experiences, your daily frustrations might not feel like such a big deal anymore.
So go ahead. Trade horror stories about awkward company parties, weird co-workers or angry bosses. You’ll groan, you’ll laugh, and you’ll realize that you may not have the best job in the world, but it probably isn’t the worst.
Even if you try all these strategies, you might still struggle with a nagging sense of discontent. If that is the case, your job may not be the best fit for you anymore. And that’s okay. There’s no shame in that. Although you may not be able to quit immediately, you can start looking into new opportunities. Networking is a great way to find out what else is out there.
Plus, by meeting other industry professionals, you’ll feel less alone and less helpless. Even if you don’t find a new job right away, you’ll still get a confidence boost and gain valuable connections.
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