There is no going around it: the warm and fuzzy feeling of excitement we get when we start a new job inevitably goes away. The work that felt fresh and exciting starts feeling stale, boring and old.
That’s when we feel we can no longer stand an obnoxious colleague or a micromanager boss… We notice that the company’s mission has nothing to do with our deepest values… We hate Monday mornings, feel taken for granted, and count days till next vacation…
Two things can happen when we hit this point: we either disengage or start looking for a new challenge outside… Sometimes we do both.
There is however a third option: to reassess and actively shake up your career to recover that feeling of excitement, challenge and connection.
It’s the process not dissimilar to a relationship with a significant other: after the initial period of infatuation, there comes a time when weaknesses and faults stand out more than what we admire in our partner. Most of us, the reasonable folk, don’t easily dump partners for a new lover – we do our best to rekindle the flame. The same wisdom can be applied to the job that starts feeling stale, especially if we’re happy with the perks that come along with it.
Here’re the steps you can take to enhance your current career, change the perspective and get that wonderful feeling back :
- Make an inventory. Look for tasks, duties, responsibilities and assignments that energize you. Doing what and under what circumstances makes you feel passionate and reinvigorated? Which tasks excite you more than others? What makes you bored ? What kind of tasks make your eyes glaze over? Look for patterns in your professional likes and dislikes: do you like working with people as opposed to crunching figures, or vice versa ? Do you enjoy working independently or in a team ? Do you like managing a project from the scratch to the final ? Do you get energized creating something? Organizing an event ? Learning a new skill and stretching your limits? Make a list.
- Find the Meaning. Do you know how what you do is connected to the company’s overall objectives? Do you understand the importance of your job? Do you feel recognized for your contribution? If the answer is ‘no’, look for assignment or project ideas that may help you do the work that raises your visibility, seems more significant and makes you feel more connected. Read the company website, newsletter, attend other departmental meetings for ideas and to get inspired.
- Check your life-work balance: have you been sacrificing other important areas of your life, eg your health, family, social life, for work? Research shows that getting the balance right and focusing on other life priorities makes feel happier at work and can certainly bring the passion and interest back.
- Check your stress level. If stress is a factor, learn how to manage the workload and stress better. You’ll take your poor stress management skills everywhere you go – so why not to learn to deal with it now ? You are bound to feel the positive effect, no matter what happens next.
- Learn People Skills. Is your unhappiness related to work relationships ? Do you need to learn to manage conflicts better ? Again, this is the skill that will be handy at any job and any area of your life. Read here for tips on managing difficult people.
- Take a step back. If you saw your career as a series of stepping stones, what would be the next stone you need to step on ? Harness the power of networking within your company to get the reality check and find new opportunities. If you keep an open and positive mind, you will be surprised by what will come out.
- Have the Big Talk. Now that you have some ideas, talk to your boss, making sure to explain how you doing more of X would be benefecial for the company, department and yourself. If you’ve been feeling that a salary rise or another form of reward would make you feel more appreciated, this is the time to raise the subject. What’s the worst thing that can happen ? No one wants to have a demotivated and disengaged employee. Your boss is likely to listen to you and might even come up with some helpful ideas to help you feel inspired again.
Tips for Managers : If you feel that your employee is disengaged, it might be time to have a conversation with them to find out more. What’s at the root of their de-motivation? Do they know know how their job is related to the overall company objectives ? Do they feel they are not using some of their key talents and skills ? Which part of the job dothey enjoy most ? The answers may help you come up with task- or project-sharing ideas, or help your employee develop an internal career plan.
It is s normal that what used to be a challenge turns into routine. It signals to us that it’s time for a change – to refresh our perspective on the old job, or find a new assignment or role that stretches us.
Once you know what you need to feel good again, you can either take steps to get that magic feeling back within the same organization, or, failing that, you can make better decisions as to what should be your next step.