Summer’s over. Are you bored? Depressed? Here’s how to get back a bit of that old career sparkle.
At first, it was great. You enjoyed coming in to work. You didn’t even mind Monday morning meetings. Everything was new and shiny, and you were being challenged every day. You actually felt you were making a difference in the world.
Sadly, like all honeymoons, the job honeymoon never lasts. Routines become, um, routine. Small irritations become major annoyances. We may even wonder why we picked this career in the first place.
Post-vacation is an especially common time for this phenomenon. We get away for a few days or weeks, and then find that coming back is surprisingly painful.
If this is you right now, take heart. Just like with a marriage, you can rekindle that old fire with just a little effort.
Identify the pain points. Your malaise may feel general but it’s more likely due to specific issues — the way the work is organized, for example, or the loud-talking co-worker in the next cubicle. You can’t fix a problem you can’t name.
Start doing the job you want. Take a moment to recall how and why you got into this field in the first place. Did you love coding? Get a charge out of negotiating with customers? Ask your boss if you can refocus your work so you’re doing more of those things, more often.
Transform your surroundings. You are human and humans respond to visual stimuli. Look around. Perhaps your workspace would benefit by better lighting or a few plants. It sounds silly, but your surroundings, your commute, even your clothes can make a big change in your mood.
Ask for more responsibility. Often, we become bored with our work for the simple reason that we’ve become too good at it. The best cure for this is to learn something new. Volunteer to take on a new project. Sign up for a class. Ask co-workers to teach you their skills.
Seek out energetic people who are passionate about their jobs. Associating with people who are committed to their careers will help you rediscover your own commitment. Offering to mentor or teach new colleagues will also freshen your outlook, and is a great way to contribute. You’ll find that engagement and excitement are contagious. That old spark will be back in no time.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use and of the novel “The Paris Effect.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.