Fall In Love With Your Work Again
Everyone wants work that they are enthusiastic and engaged with, even passionate about. Remember that feeling that you had upon receiving an offer to that job that you really wanted. The excitement of the new position with all the possibilities for growth and accomplishment ahead of you. Perhaps the dream job with promises of professional rewards that would follow as you rise with the organization.
That was then. Now after some time later, you find yourself in a different reality. Your passion may have been replaced with the anticipation of the next paycheck, the devotion to your work replaced with the anticipation of the coming vacation time or next paid holiday that you will enjoy time off. You’re no longer enthusiastic about your job, much less passionate about it.
Fortunately though, there is hope for those of you who are tangled in such a rut, especially if you are one of those who used to cherish what you do but have somehow lost your way. If you still want to recover that long-lost devotion to your work, read on to find out how.
1. Get to the root of the problem. If you’re having problems dragging yourself out of the bed for work every other morning, the first step is to admit that you’re no longer as passionate as you used to be. Similarly, if you are having bad days at work every other day, you might have a problem. That said, this is nothing to be ashamed of. Instead of lamenting over it, sit down and reflect upon what might have caused you to have these issues with work. In order to change for the better, you must first examine what are the things that seem to be going wrong at work or even within yourself. Once you’re clear what the root of the problem is, you can start making little changes to yourself and your work environment to get over this difficult phase of your career.
2. Pick apart the problem. Start by journaling about your work at the end of each day to help you sieve out patterns about your work life. For all you know, you might be engaging in a spiral of self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviours that drain some of your energy away each time. The problem may be caused by repressed anger about your job. Writing about it helps you vent your frustrations and keep your stress in check.
3. Are you sabotaging yourself? An all too common phenomenon is the fear of success where people find excuses not to accept new challenges because they are afraid to change. Ask yourself if you’ve missed out numerous opportunities for you to take one step up in your career because of such an irrational fear. If you realize that the problem actually lies with your doubts about your own capability, work them out and you just might get the much needed self-actualization to feel passionate about your work once more.
4. Find new meaning. One possibility as to why you are no longer passionate about your work could be that what lured you into it several years ago no longer attracts you now. This is not unusual since our priorities change as we enter different phases of life. Nevertheless, there are many aspects of work which one can be passionate about.
For instance, a web developer may start off his or her career with a specific interest in the programming of web pages, but gradually switch to become a trainer for future developers. The love for web development remains, but the focus has now shifted from doing the actual developing to imparting knowledge and experience to new bloods. In other words, work can form new meanings as people take on different roles within their field of expertise.
5. Find your new love. Consider then, what are the things that you value now? Are you now thinking about how you can apply your top-notch skills to make a difference in other people’s lives? Maybe you have a fix for an industry-wide problem and you feel that you are obliged to plug the gap by promoting the solution. If you’re still not sure what missing in your work right now, experiment with different areas of your work to find out which aspect of it keeps you enthusiastic and motivated.
6. Think long-term. In every job, there are bound to be the things we love to do and the things we loathe. Unfortunately, in many instances, the latter takes up a significant portion of our time and energy in our day-to-day work. We all have our paperwork and housekeeping to deal with, and we often engage in "fire-fighting", or the dealing of urgent matters at hand and the handling of crises as they occur. When such "fire-fighting" phase is sustained for too long, we typically experience a burnout. The solution is to realign our purpose and role in our job and not be too caught up by these miscellaneous issues that do not form the core of your work. It helps if we are able to recognize the long-term vision or goals which we are trying to achieve.
7. View under a different light. Instead of mindlessly clearing the monotonous tasks which we are obliged to do every day, think about how these hassles relate to the long-term goals. Once you can understand that these are the stepping stones to what you truly want to achieve and love doing, you will find that such suffering is not only more bearable, but even pleasant to endure. This is when you regain your passion for your work to help you see that the small stuff are not worth sweating over and not allow them to puncture your passion further.
8. Delegate. An alternative way to deal with the stuff which you hate to do is to delegate them to other people in your team who may otherwise do a better job. This will be easier if you are a boss yourself and have a couple of subordinates at your expense to handle those tedious and menial tasks like forms, filing and other administrative matters.
If you’re working solo as a freelancer of sort, you might consider hiring part-timers or contract employees to help you manage your accounts, for instance. Note that delegating work also means that you are transferring some of your responsibility to people who are probably less familiar with the work than you are and are thus more prone to mistakes. But you will be able to distribute your workload and channel your energy to work that matters more to you.
For the rest of you who work in a team and do not have the luxury of having employees under your charge, discuss with your supervisor or team members on how best to utilize your strengths by delegating what you’re weak at to other members.
True, it still depends on the complex group dynamics and the amount of trust the team members have for each other, but there’s no doubt that any teams will function better if each of the members are able to contribute by doing what they do best.
When you sell the idea in this manner, the team will more likely to buy it and work something out. There will still be certain tasks that nobody likes doing, but at least it should, hopefully, now go to the people who are better at them and dislike them least!
9. Take a vacation. Even if you love your work to bits, you are not invulnerable to the physiological and psychological effects of stress. Prolonged stress depletes the resources in your body, weakens your immune system and eventually manifests itself in physical illnesses and mental breakdowns. It’s hard for anyone to keep up with what they enjoy doing if they are in poor health, and such lack of energy and motivation will gradually lead to a loss of interest for their work.
10. Challenge yourself. On one end of the spectrum, you can get too stressed out by work that you start losing your passion for it. At the other end, work can get too routine that you no longer find it interesting. The key then, is to find the right balance. The optimal state of mind is attainable when the challenge is just right, neither too difficult nor too easy. Also known as "flow", this state of mind is when one can be completely focus and thoroughly enjoy the task assigned.
11. Try to mix it up. Many a time, people start getting tired of what they do because they keep doing the same thing over and over again. You realize you are just going through the motions and your work loses meaning. You can stimulate your mind a little by just breaking away from these routines to explore and experiment with different ways of doing your job.
Try to think about how you can improve certain areas of your work or even your organization and see if you can get back some enthusiasm. Alternatively, try asking your boss for new projects and assignments or seek them out yourself if you work alone.
Unless you prefer taking it slow with your career, don’t let the fear of success hold you back from taking up new challenges. Often times you do not even have to wait until you complete them to feel the satisfaction. The kick and curiosity you have when dealing with something novel might just be enough for you to restore your passion for the job.
12. Draw strength from the community. Once you start losing interest in your work, you keep to yourself more and that lack of social interaction makes you feel even worse about your job. Instead of shutting yourself out, make that extra effort to talk to the people around you, including folks from other departments in your organization or anyone else within the industry. Developing friendships at work translates to happier workers and better productivity. If you currently do not have a close friend at work whom you can confide in about your loss of passion, engaging in networking may help you get one.
Remind Yourself What You Really Love
Sometimes we tend to get too preoccupied with all our deadlines and "fire-fighting" that we just forget what draws us to our work in the first place. Just as we should always find time to smell the roses and appreciate the little blessings we have in our lives, we should also make it a habit to notice all the lovely things about our job.