Recently a friend was telling me about how disappointed he had become in his work. Over the last few years, he had watched his department dwindle due to several reorganizations, layoffs, and resignations. On top of it, there was a sense of isolation after working remotely through the pandemic. He had interviewed for other jobs, but each presented its own obstacles like taking on a long commute or even requiring relocation. My friend was feeling stuck.
Any of us can find ourselves in situations where we need to re-energize our careers.
The pandemic years locked us in and gave us new flexibility in how we do our jobs. It changed the way people approached their jobs. It made some people even leave their jobs. After three years of these ups and downs, it’s not surprising that so many of us are sitting back and rethinking how to bring joy and meaning in our work.
If what you are craving is a deeper connection to your work and firmer boundaries between your job and the rest of your life, consider the following:
- Energize your career goals. Enrolling in a mentoring program is one of the best ways to do that. Also, connecting with your supervisor about goals- which can, but don’t need to involve actively pursuing a promotion. You might be looking for opportunities to leverage a certain strength or improve daily tasks such as email communication and agenda planning. Goals give you momentum whether you’re hoping to get an advanced degree or a promotion. Having established goals also gives you the opportunity to check in with yourself periodically to know if things are on track or you need to make a change.
- Retool your work routine. Whether you’re still working from home, back in the office, or trying out a hybrid schedule, adding or taking away a small element to your work routine can be energizing. Some ideas:
- Create a new morning routine (walk, stretch exercises, inspirational reading). Do a quick inversion pose. If you take yoga, you already know about headstands and downward-facing dog. But have you tried the “legs-up-against the wall” move? This restorative pose allows your body to circulate in a different direction.
- Switch up the order that you complete administrative tasks.
- Schedule “focus” time into your day.
- Personalize your workspace (bring in live plants, artwork, family photos, etc.)
- Mediate for 5 minutes before lunch.
- Put a quote a day calendar on your desk for inspiration.
- Eat a healthy breakfast.
- Drink one full glass of water before your cup of coffee.
- Find a podcast that interests you.
- Isolate your motivators. If you are excited about what you are doing and why you are doing it, your enthusiasm will be the key to your competitive edge. What makes you feel most engaged during your workday? What do you find enjoyable about your organization? When do you feel most proud of your work? What opportunities or working groups exist in your organization that lean into these areas? Can you set up a reward system for yourself?
- Plan your boundaries with intention. Know your boundaries because otherwise, during busy times, everything that comes your way will feel like too much. If you find yourself feeling grouchy or anxious whenever someone approaches you with a question, you might have allowed people to breach your boundaries too many times. Don’t hesitate to say when you feel overextended and have some templated excuses for when you just can’t take on anything extra.
- Consider developing a new skill. Is there something you’ve been wanting to tackle that would be a helpful contribution to your team? You might consider learning a new spreadsheet platform or scheduling app. Even shadowing another team managers’ staff meetings would be good training for leading meetings in your own department. Seek a situational mentor or even peruse online certification programs.
Ask a mentor:
Your mentor has probably had times when they struggled with engagement at their job. Ask them about how they navigated it:
- What have you done to energize your commitment to work when feeling sluggish?
- How often or do you ever re-evaluate your career goals?
- What are your favorite daily work routines?
- How do you set personal and professional boundaries?