You have fallen out of love with your job. No amount of date nights, second chances, or counseling services will make the situation right. You figure that it is time to move on to greener pastures, but is it?
There are ebbs and flows to every relationship, and jobs are no exception. What attracted you to your current position — challenging assignments, a fun work environment, money — may no longer be enough to keep you interested and satisfied. However, before mentally checking out and looking for a new position, make the following considerations.
1. Begin by having a conversation with your manager about your feelings. Managers are not life coaches, so be realistic with your expectations about how they may be able to assist you. Pick the top three things you enjoy about your job, and request additional duties that fall within those realms. Outlining what you dislike about your role will start the conversation in a negative tone and may not lead to a positive outcome. Sharing your feelings with your manager extends a level of professional courtesy and transparency necessary for healthy working relationships. Remember, you were hired for a specific role, so framing the conversation in terms of what you enjoy rather than what you dislike can help foster a sense of collaboration between you and your manager.
2. Ask for new assignments or the opportunity to lead a project or shadow another department to help refine your skills. Relationships are a two-way street, and if your relationship with your job has grown stale, there is nothing wrong with asking for stretch assignments, projects, or work tasks outside of your existing purview. This approach shows your desire to evolve professionally, and illustrates your willingness to address issues and step into your potential.
3. All relationships need to be nurtured, so remind yourself why you originally fell in love with your job. Challenge yourself to rekindle the enthusiasm you had for your job when you first started. This exercise may take some effort, but the results could surprise you. I have found the best approach is to keep a gratitude journal. My method for journaling is very simple: At the end of each day, I write three things in my day planner that happened during the day for which I am grateful. Sometimes, it is a good cup of coffee, laughing with a coworker, or engaging in a great conversation. Items do not have to be specific to the work one performs, but the fact these things occurred at work can help keep you engaged and connected to your job.
4. How you feel about your job does not have to result in a binary outcome. Nothing is ever 100% perfect all of the time. Consider if your job is 80% perfect most of the time. Do you like the work you do? Do you like the people you work with? Maybe what you are going through is a relationship slump that requires some effort to get out of, but it certainly does not warrant packing up and moving on.
5. There is no shortage of people who like to complain about their jobs. These dream-squashers are not happy unless everyone else around them is as miserable. Distance yourself from these naysayers as quickly as possible, because they will do nothing but make a bump in the road seem like a valley that you cannot climb out of.
6. Find a local nonprofit for which you have a passion, and contribute your time and professional talents. I serve on a variety of nonprofit boards, and I find working for the greater good of a local nonprofit, or the community, feeds my soul. I am primarily called upon to provide human resource assistance to the nonprofits that I work with; however, the work I do with these nonprofits allows me to meet new people, stretch my professional skills, research trends and work for a collective good.
7. Find a trusted source that will be honest with you and not just tell you what you want to hear. Everyone has someone in their life who will provide them with honest and objective feedback. It may be the case that you need a day off, a vacation or to unplug from electronic devices when you leave work. Feeling burned out can exacerbate negative feelings toward one’s job. In some cases, the trick is to step away from work and gain some perspective.
If you decide to break up with your job, do some self-reflection. Determine what you loved, liked, and could no longer tolerate with your job. This process may not change your mind, but it will provide some valuable insight on what to look for and avoid in the future.