With February upon us, staying immune to some variation of the “winter blues” becomes almost as difficult as avoiding the flu. A general sense of restlessness and discontent may try to worm its way into various facets of your life, including your career. Or, perhaps, after the buzz and excitement of the holiday season, your day-to-day feels less satisfying.
You may look back on your current position and wonder when the passion began to fade. This spurs the question, should you stay, or should you go? As a firm believer in second chances, we suggest taking a step back to look at the bigger picture of your experience in this role before kicking it to the curb.
With that said, how do you reignite the spark?
Review the impact you’ve had on the company
Take a moment to look back on your time with this company. Review the role you’ve played in getting your organization or department to where they are now versus when you first started. While doing this, create a list of your achievements and consider if you could continue building upon them. Is this organization a better place in some sense because of the work you’ve done–are you a more skilled professional because of the work that you’ve had the opportunity to do?
Uncover the root of the problem
Sometimes the cause of your dissatisfaction can be easily pinpointed to an exact incident, but more often than not, your current feelings have been built by layers of varied occasions or relationships. In the case of the latter, it may take some self-reflection to reveal when and why you fell out of love. If you’ve had a bad experience with a coworker, fixating on your understanding of that particular incident is an easy route to take, but have you thought about it from their end or looked at the overarching actions that caused the experience to occur? Opening your mind to process a situation from an emphatic approach frequently generates a different perspective and greater respect for the people on the other end.
Look at your relationships
Consider the relationships you’ve formed during your time in this role. How have your colleagues helped you grow, and do they still have knowledge to impart? For many of us, a large portion of our experience is shaped by the relationships we maintain, and a positive or negative team dynamic could make or break your perception. If you’ve been working with the same individuals for a while, maybe you’ve settled into a predictable routine. Try shaking things up by asking your colleagues about their professional background or past experiences. You may be surprised by what you could learn from their past lessons.
Improve your view
Many of us spend a similar amount of time in our workspace as we do in our home. Decorating your house to make it feel like your home is done without question, but often we don’t put thought into personalizing our workspace. Consider the saying that the home is a reflection of the self. Think about that phrase in terms of your work area–a cluttered, impersonal space won’t help you feel connected to the work you’re doing. Of course, you can’t take the same creative liberties in your office as you could in your home. But consider adding some personal touches through photographs of family and friends, interesting desk accessories, plants, a calendar that reflects a personal interest, or books for inspiration. By introducing these elements you create a space that is familiar and comfortable, thereby naturally uplifting your mood.
Broaden your connections
Often in an office-setting, we become unintentionally socially affixed to members of our department or those that we sit near. Lack of exposure to other business areas may be causing you to miss out on great opportunities to broaden your network. Take control of this by asking a coworker from a different department out for lunch or coffee. By engaging with other sections of your company, you may acquire a fresh perspective and understanding of your organization and gain a lasting professional connection along the way.
Communicate what you’re feeling
As in any relationship, maintaining open communication with your teammates is a critical component to success. What feels obvious to you might go unnoticed by others. If appropriate, schedule time to sit down with your boss or teammates and try to talk through your thoughts. Outside perspectives may shed light on the root of your feelings and serve as a reminder of why you fell in love with your job in the first place.
Now that you’ve done the work, reflecting on your past achievements and company growth, it’s time to look to the future: what could you accomplish in your role this year? Analyze a high-level perspective of your department’s objectives–are there projects in the pipeline that appeal to you? Do you see an opportunity to learn a new skill or strengthen an existing one? If you answered yes to either of those questions, ask yourself if you’d be comfortable with someone else building on the work you started. Begin with the end goals and break them down into phases, then into actionable items, until you have an overarching project plan for success. Has the flame returned yet?
As with most things, we frequently want what we can’t have and overlook the value of what’s in front of us. If you’re willing to put in the work, you may find your “relationship” (aka your job) is stronger than ever before.