It’s that time of year again. Love is in the air…or maybe it seems that way for everyone else.
Remember that feeling you used to have? That feeling of excitement? How you were nervous? How you looked forward to every day? How you didn’t even mind Monday mornings? How you felt confident and invigorated? How you felt inspired and passionate?
How come those feelings started to fade away over time? Why can’t you go back to the “honey moon phase?”
Can you rekindle the fire and fall back in love with your job all over again? Or is quitting and searching for a new job the only option?
Job burnout is real, and you’re not alone if you find yourself wondering if it’s time to move on.
Before you dust off the resume and begin looking for a new job to bring you more happiness, consider these 13 tips to fall in love with your job all over again.
- Take Time to Reflect
Remind yourself why you first fell in love with your job. Perspective is everything. What drew you to apply to the job? What did you like about the company? What did you love about the culture and the people you work with? Take time to write down the things you really like and enjoy about your work.
Focus more on the positive than the negative.
Write a list of some of the personal and professional milestones in your life while you’ve been at your current company. Acknowledge things that brought you happiness both in and out of the office. Did you buy a car or home? Did you get a Masters through work? Were you promoted? Did you work on a big project that helped the company grow? Did you get married or have kids?
Taking time to reflect is important. It’s easy to get caught up in the negative and forget why this job is a good part of your life.
- Audit Yourself and Responsibilities
Take time to really understand what might be causing you to be unhappy or disengaged at work. Is it that you feel overwhelmed or underwhelmed by your responsibilities? Do you not have enough vacation time? Is salary a concern? Do you feel detached from your co-workers? Do you not feel supported by management?
By being able to identify and isolate places at work that may be causing dissatisfaction allows you to assess what you do and do not have control of. Address what you are able to change.
I recommend writing down a list of your responsibilities, the time you put into each project, the hours you work each week, and the outcome of all of your efforts. Don’t do this with the intent of venting or using it to further fuel your discontent. Instead this should help you better understand an approach to finding a solution and strategy to each concern.
- Be Selfish with Your Time (in a good way)
Sometimes we find ourselves giving so much of our time to other people that we forget to take time for ourselves. I think it’s important to be a team player and help others, but I also think it’s important to block off time for yourself.
Personally, stress and discomfort comes from time management. There just never seems to be enough time in the day. People talk about work-life balance, but truly how can you really have it all? I mean something has to give, right?
I’ve realized that it’s really about compromise. I block off time in my calendar so that I won’t let other distractions interrupt me. I commit to the hours in my calendar to work on other projects. I also block off time for lunch, exercise, social activities, and coffee breaks.
If not I will always let the day run me, instead of me running my day.
Trust me, there will always be more that needs to get done. Alleviate some of the discontent by practicing better time management and taking time for yourself both inside and outside of the office.
- Break the Routine
This is coming from someone who is a product of routine. Someone who doesn’t stray far from eating the same yogurt for breakfast every single day.
Routines are great, and they give us accountability, but sometimes they can be limiting. If part of your daily routine is causing stress, then it’s time to change it.
One of my favorite movies is “Yes Man.” A summary without any spoilers is that a man finds himself in what he thinks is a dead-end job without any fundamental relationships in or out of work. He feels that he is only existing until he goes to a seminar where he is told to say “yes” to anything that was asked of him. As a result, he finds himself trying new things that he might otherwise never have pushed himself to do, opening the door to new opportunities. Keep in mind this is a fictional comedy so not every part of the movie may be applicable to your life.
Instead, take away the idea of breaking up your routine. Change doesn’t have to be big to bring you happiness. Focus on small changes.
- Take a Class
Whether it’s professional or personal, I recommend taking some sort of class. Taking a class is a great way to grow. It could be getting some sort of higher education degree or attaining a professional certification. Or it could be learning a new language or instrument. Or maybe it’s a public speaking course or a writing class. It doesn’t necessarily matter what it is, but choose something that will spark some professional/personal development.
Many companies offer programs and benefits around learning. Some even cover some tuition costs to get a Master’s degree. Consider taking advantage of such a great benefit.
Choose something that will challenge you outside of the work environment. I know what you’re thinking, “where can I find the time?” My answer, make the time. This goes with time management and forcing you to change what may be causing unhappiness. You can also talk with your manager about incorporating some of this time into you work calendar by letting them know the benefits of this commitment and why you need to do it.
Change is made through action.
- Don’t Just Think Positive, Speak Positive
It may seem like a cliché, but the power of positivity is real. I don’t believe it is enough to think positive thoughts, you need to speak positive words. It takes the same amount of effort to be negative as it does to be positive…even if negativity feels easier.
You may not be a believer in the power of positive thinking, but I suggest you try it. Wake up in the morning and try saying “Today is going to be the best day of my life.” Don’t just think it, say it until you believe it. Make you listen to you.
Or try saying a simple and upbeat “Hello” to everyone in your office. It’s contagious.
Some of my favorite motivational videos to watch are TED Talks. They always help me readjust my mindset and reignite a fire with purpose to take on the day.
“Every day may not be good…
but there's something good in everyday”
― Alice Morse Earle
- Get Rid of the Clutter
If you are looking for a refresh button, start with cleansing out the clutter in your life.
Clean out your email mailbox, shred papers that are accumulating on your desk, go through your closet and donate clothes. Free up the space that doesn’t have a purpose. Don’t just reorganize a mess, get rid of it.
By removing clutter, you give yourself a chance to refocus and start over…without really having to start over. You might feel like a whole new you when you remove clutter from your life. You will have a clean slate.
- Use All of Your Vacation Time (Seriously)
This is either really easy for you or really hard for you. Regardless, I recommend using your vacation time. I know it can seem difficult when you leave the office, knowing there is so much to do and so much you will have to come back to, but like I said before, there will always be more to do. Take the time you have to spend it on things that make you happy.
If you find yourself having a hard time fully removing yourself from work when on vacation, make sure you limit yourself to only a certain amount of time to work. The point is to break yourself away from your desk, and pursue things outside of the office.
Whether you only take long weekends or save up time to take that 3-week trip to Europe, use your vacation time. You will not only take trips you have been dreaming of, you will also return to work refreshed and re-invigorated.
This shouldn’t be a recommendation, but instead an obligation. Volunteering your time to others is truly a rewarding and humbling experience. Maybe it’s something you’ve been wanting to do, but can’t commit the time. Once again, make the time. Make the effort to seek change, passion, and purpose.
Many companies have an entire department or committee dedicated to philanthropy and humanitarian efforts. Find out ways that you can get involved.
Even if it’s not through work, there are still plenty of volunteering opportunities. It doesn’t have to weekly or even monthly. Maybe it’s something you do only a few times a year because you enjoy it and can easily commit to it. You can volunteer at an animal shelter or soup kitchen. Maybe it’s helping to clean up a local community park each fall and spring.
No matter what it is, find ways to give back. No excuses on this one.
- Ask for More…or Less
If you feel stressed or bored at work, look for ways to change it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, go to your manager and let them know that you need help. Brainstorm on how you can delegate some of the work.
If you are feeling bored or complacent, meet with your manager to talk about taking on more responsibilities or shadowing another member of a different department to learn more.
If you don’t ask for something, don’t expect to magically receive it. Remember, good leaders want to see you succeed and will work with you to figure it out.
If you are like most people sitting at a desk all day, you may find it hard to make the time for exercise. Being static 8+ hours a day is not beneficial. You need to find time to be physically active. Remember endorphins make you happy.
If you don’t look forward to being on a treadmill each day, that’s okay. Even if you take only 20 minutes each day to walk around the office building that’s great exercise, both physically and mentally.
Many organizations have incorporated great wellness plans for employees as well. Some companies even have gyms with exercise classes provided right in the building. Sometimes they provide discounted or even free classes to employees. Take advantage of that.
It’s easy to fall into not wanting to be active after a long workday. Typically you feel exhausted enough after working. I completely understand. Exercise shouldn’t be a burden but something you incorporate into your daily or weekly routine.
Do some co-workers play in a volleyball or softball league once a week after work? Consider joining. Not only will you get some exercise, you’ll also get to bond with co-workers outside of the office.
- Set Goals In-and-Out of the Office
Goals are a great way to set yourself up for success…or failure. I love goals. I think they really help you think about things you want to accomplish in your life. I also think that if you don’t map out a strategy for your goals, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Heck, maybe your goals are part of the reason you are not in love with your job anymore.
Does your company provide you with goals, projects, or quotas without support or metrics to help you get there? Of course you will be stressed trying to figure it out. Don’t let yourself be set up for failure.
Goals are not supposed to be easy, but they are supposed to be attainable. Make sure you’re setting realistic goals that you feel great about achieving. Also, don’t save all of your goals to be completed until the end of the year. You will find yourself running around like crazy. Have benchmarks and milestones that you can track and measure yourself against throughout the year.
If you want to run a marathon, how are you going to train? If you want to take a vacation of a lifetime, how will you save and plan? If you want to be the #1 Sales Rep of the Year, how many deals do you have to close and how do you get there?
- Mentor Another Employee
This is a great way to remind yourself of why you love your job and company. You have the chance to help someone else navigate these same waters. You also get to surround yourself with someone who is eager to learn, which provides enthusiastic energy to be around. You will be able to teach and give yourself more purpose. You will also be around someone who will be able to give you a fresh perspective on a job or maybe even provide ideas on how you can improve some areas. You will also be able to help someone else map out goals for their lives and provide real-life guidance. It might even re-ignite your passion for your job.
Is the grass always greener? I don’t know.
However, what I do know is that whether it is something at work or in your personal life that is bringing you unhappiness, it’s up to you to recognize it and change it.
Maybe some things are out of your control, or you have tried talking to your manager, but nothing seems to stick. Or maybe you’re in the wrong career/industry. That may happen, and it might truly be a time for you to evaluate your career and consider a new opportunity. My advice is to understand why. If you don’t, you will always be searching for something that is less than fulfilling.
Your job doesn’t need to be your sole existence for living, and you may not love it every day, but it should add to your happiness.
And to end it with a cliché (but a true cliché), happiness isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. Throughout your life you will experience ups and downs, and happiness will be an ongoing process.
Remember, you don’t need to incorporate all of these tips (or any of these tips for that matter). Rather, understand and execute on what works best for you.