Most of us have been there. When the relationship started, you were so excited that your skin practically tingled. Every morning you bolted out of bed with enthusiasm to get to your new love. Every night, you drifted off to sleep with a head full of thoughts about your new commitment and how to make it better. At times, you talked to your friends about your new relationship so much, they nearly began to duck out of lunches with you because they were tired of hearing about it.
But now, months or even years later, the glossy shine of love is long gone and everything seems just a little … boring. It practically takes a stick of dynamite just to get you out of bed in the morning. During the day, you find yourself just going through the motions until you can get home and watch TV without getting interrupted by you know who.
A passionate relationship with another person gone sour? Nope. This is about you losing the love for your job. Just as in relationships between people, it’s possible that your job can become stale and you lose your passion for your work. The question is, can you re-kindle those old feelings for your job?
According to an article by Laura Vanderkam of Fast Company, yes it is! She interviewed author Jesse Sostrin (Beyond the Job Description), among others, to discover the six keys to finding your passion and enthusiasm for work again.
- Step Away. If you’re in a high-pressure management job, it’s easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees because it seems like there’s not a moment to take a breath. If your company offers sabbatical time off, take it and get completely away from your job. Use the time to think about your life and what you want. If a sabbatical isn’t an option (and for many people, it isn’t) then taking some personal or vacation time is a must.
- Think about what makes you happy. While you’re meditating, remember the last time you were happiest at work and figure out why that was happening. Was it your duties? The people you worked with? The challenge of learning new things? If the answer looks nothing like your current job, that’s OK, at least you have your answer. If you’re in a spot where you can’t think of anything that you would love to be doing, start listing what you absolutely do NOT want to do. For many people, listing off what they would hate to do is easier and at least it’s a start in the right direction.
- Speak up and ask for what you want. Many unhappy employees incorrectly assume that their bosses know what they want, but are deliberately ignoring them. However, most often, bosses get caught up in the same time traps you do and are unaware that you’re unhappy. Until you quit and storm out, that is. Create a wish list of things you want in your job, along with enough supporting documentation to at least give your boss the impression that your request isn’t just an emotional outburst to something else. Want to work on a new project … cross-train with another department … have a flexible schedule … or even more money? You have to ask. If your only alternative is to quit, you don’t have anything to lose.
- Do your real work first. Almost all of us started the love affair with our jobs because of the work we were doing, not the meetings, emails, reports and the like. If you can, make sure you do that work you loved the first thing every day. It fills you with a sense of accomplishment and makes the rest of the mundane stuff a little easier to take. If you’re at a point where that is virtually impossible, find another time to do it. Vanderkam mentions a software engineer with a passion for coding who gets out of bed at 3 in the morning to code for two hours before going back to sleep before work. Hey, if it’s truly something you’re passionate about, you’ll find time.
- Fix your “pain points”. Identify parts of your job you hate and set about fixing them. For instance, an officer in one company spent too much time on flights between the U.S., Europe and India. She was constantly rushing from the airport directly to her meetings and her stress was off the charts. So she changed every meeting she could to later in the day or evening, giving her a chance to get a nap, hit the gym, and get a shower before her first event of the day. It gave her a mental and physical breather with just a slight change in normalcy. Phil Cooke, a media producer in Los Angeles and author of One Big Thing, a book about figuring out your passion, recommends looking at your surroundings and making some changes. “Change your office,” he says. “Spending eight- to 10-hour days in the same environment will drive anyone nuts. If it’s in your power, re-paint, change the furniture, the plants, or the wall hangings. Sprucing up is a shot in the arm for anyone.”
- Only change what you can control. Starting with your own attitude. Smile more … thank people for small favors … and refuse to give the difficult people in your life control over your emotions. And, most importantly, at the end of every day, consciously list one awesome thing that happened that day. Do. It. Every. Day. It’s easy to let the daily frustrations cloud over the real reason you took the job to begin with. However, listing the awesome thing will help you look at the big picture of what your company is doing and the part you play in it.