10 Ways to Fall Back in Love With Your Job
A Conference Board survey found that only 45% U.S. workers were satisfied in their jobs, the lowest level since 1987. Young people seemed to get the shortest end of the stick, as workers younger than 25 were the most unhappy in their jobs. But even if you’re one of the few who do like your job, if you’ve been working in the same job for years, it can still be difficult to keep the fire alive. Especially after a particularly bad or hectic day, it can seem impossible to stay positive with all the challenges brought on by the economic downturn. You may even have had taken on the role of two or three positions, causing your grunt work to increase. All the while, you may be asking yourself, ‘why am I here?’ Even though you may not be feeling the love right now, here are 10 ways to get it back.
Nobody likes a Debbie Downer. If all you do is talk about the problems you have at work, no one will want to listen to you or help you in your plight. You may be unhappy in your job, but you don’t have to complain about it to everyone who asks you how you’re doing. (This includes Twitter and Facebook, people! Your internet friends don’t need the negativity, either.) They’ve got their own problems and believe me, they’re tired of hearing about yours. Besides, complaining never helped anyone change their circumstances. Break out the positive energy and not only will it spread to the environment around you, but it will put you in a better position to take meaningful action to improve your situation.
Take Responsibility for Your Own Career
This follows from the first point I made about not complaining. Remember that your boss is NOT ultimately responsible for your career fulfillment. You are. If something isn’t going the way you want it to, it’s up to you to either change it or get the hell out of there and seek out new opportunities. You can’t go around blaming other people for making you unhappy in your job – at some point you have to take matters into your own hands.
After a while, even the best job can become boring. If you feel like you’re doing the same thing every day at work, kick it up a notch by taking on more responsibility through fun or interesting projects. Ask your co-workers if they need help with their current workload. Sit down with your boss to see how you might spearhead a new initiative to help meet the organization’s goals. The beauty of starting something and putting positive pressure on yourself to see it through is that it can make you look forward to Monday instead of dreading it.
Visit Your Clients
What does your organization actually do for your clients? Have you ever seen it in action? Whether you work for a nonprofit or a for-profit company, it will benefit you to take a couple hours one day to go visit one of your clients. Sit in on a pitch meeting, make a phone call to thank a satisfied customer, watch your counselors help the unemployed craft resumes, or attend a play your arts organization is performing. The idea is to see for yourself the impact that organization’s efforts have on others. It will make you appreciate why you do your work every day, no matter how rough it gets.
Find a Mentor
Think about someone you admire in your industry and then ask them to sit down with you for a coffee or over lunch once per quarter. It doesn’t have to be a formal relationship, just someone you can talk shop with, pick their brain and get clarity about the next steps in your career. Most people will be happy to help you in your growth, especially if it gives them an opportunity to pass on their wealth of knowledge to the new leaders coming up after them. So don’t be afraid to ask your mentor how they got started and what advice they have for someone trying to climb the ladder in your particular field.
Be a Mentor to Someone Else
If you’ve been in your job a few years, chances are you also have a lot to teach the newbies that are just starting in your field. Take someone under your wing and show them the ropes at your organization or offer to help a person who’s at the beginning stages of trying to break into your industry. Helping someone at a lower rung on the career ladder can give you a huge sense of pride and purpose in your own work once you see how you can make an impact in their life.
Stop Being a Martyr
How many times have you heard someone say, “If I didn’t work 70 hours a week, there’s no way everything would get done around here.” This is the behavior of a martyr: one who suffers for the sake of principle or for a particular cause. But really, there’s no reason for you to stay at work until the wee hours of the night unless you work for a startup. If you’re always working overtime, it’s usually because there’s a problem with time management or your boss is simply taking advantage of you by asking (or strongly encouraging) that you stay late. Get rid of the need to feel indispensable at work and you might just start to enjoy the time you do spend there a little more. The work that has to be done can, and will get completed if you live your life like a normal person.
Ask for a Raise
A lot of people hate their jobs because they simply don’t get paid enough. But that doesn’t have to be the case. You don’t have to live in near poverty. Everything is negotiable, whether you believe it or not. If you’re doing a good job, there’s no harm in asking for what I like to call a “salary adjustment.” If what you really need for your own peace of mind is more money, by all means you should ask for it. Of course, you may not get it, but the worst thing they can say is no. And at least your employer will know that you know your own worth. It doesn’t have to be all about money either. You can negotiate a work-from-home arrangement or ask for more vacation time. The point is that if you feel like your work is financially rewarded, you’ll be more happy in your job.
Take a Vacation
When was the last time you took a day off? Many employees save up their vacation time for when they have the money to take a fancy trip out of town, but you don’t have to wait that long. You are entitled to your days off, so use them! They are an important part of the compensation package for the work you do – you’ve earned them. You might take a day to just wander around at your local museum or goof off at the amusement park. Whatever you do, just stop hoarding your leave time and use it to recharge and come back to work with renewed energy.
Redesign Your Day
Maybe you’re just tired of coming into the office at 8am. If your schedule is set for you to work too early or too late, have a talk with your boss to ask if you can change it. I used to work a typical 9am to 5pm, but I worked better later in the day, so I simply told my boss I wanted to start coming in from 10am-6pm. It gave me more time to sleep in the morning, and didn’t harm the organization one bit. And I was a happier employee for it.
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