When you landed your job, you were thrilled. If it wasn’t your dream job, it was pretty darn close—at least a big step along an exciting career path. But lately, you’re just not feeling it. It’s not that you hate your job or even that you want to make a switch, but the days are feeling routine and you might be feeling the Sunday night blues again.
There are a number of reasons people get a little bored with their jobs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get excited about what you do again, says Vincent Ponzo, senior director of the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center at Columbia Business School. But the sooner you begin to turn it around, the better off you are. Try these steps to stoke the fire again.
Ponzo is surprised by how many people aren’t self-aware enough to spot when they’re getting bored or off-track. You have to know yourself, your skill sets, and the areas about which you’re passionate in your career so you can get back in touch with those aspects in your day-to-day activities, he says. Think back to when you started to feel dissatisfied, and trace what led to your feelings now.
"Even if the job itself is rote or things go stale, there are still other ways to find fulfillment and gain energy and keep moving forward because jobs are not one-dimensional. There's networks, skills, talents, lots of things you can get from a job," he says. The key is to get back in touch with the opportunities to learn and grow.
Are you seeking out interesting people in your workplace or hanging out with the complainers? Have you fallen into a rut, eating at the same place every day (read: your desk) or following a dull routine? Mix it up, Ponzo says. Rearrange your workspace to be more organized. Seek out new people in the office for lunch or coffee. You may even find a great new contact or mentor.
The barrier between work life and personal life has disintegrated for many people, which can lead to feelings of exhaustion or burnout, Ponzo says. Such a lack of boundaries can sap your energy and make it tough to get excited about anything. Create habits and routines that make you take breaks and stop thinking about work for periods of time, he advises. Make time for family and friends and spend time on leisure activities you enjoy—even if you feel like you don’t have time to do so.
A sense of ennui could also mean that you’re ready for a new challenge or level of responsibility, says Charles Mitchell, cofounder and CEO of All About People, a recruiting and staffing franchise based in Phoenix. It may be time to make your case for a promotion or, at least, a new stretch assignment that will allow you to challenge yourself and learn new skills. It helps to have a strong relationship with your supervisor, he says. If the person to whom you report is your advocate, he or she can help you find these opportunities.
If there aren’t immediate opportunities to advance or take on a new assignment that interests you, it might be a good idea to collaborate with someone else in the company to learn a new role, Mitchell says. Cross-training jobs gives you the opportunity to add to your skills. In addition, it’s a good idea for companies to have employees who can fulfill various roles to reduce the costs and productivity drain of turnover, he says. Being adept in more than one area makes you more marketable and may make you more valuable to your company.
Another way to get excited about your work is to find a way to become a student again. Take a management or technology class that will help you advance in your role, Mitchell suggests. Or, take a class that has nothing to do with your work, but helps you learn something you wish to learn. Being a lifelong learner can help you improve both your value as an employee and your personal fulfillment, he says.
"Maybe you think you're very good at what you do, but there's always a way to be better. There are always people who are at a higher level of execution and delivery in what they do, and you can strive to be that person who is at the top of their game," he says.