The latest turnover numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that a record 4.4 million people voluntarily quit their jobs in September. Add on top of that a study conducted by the Workplace Institute that finds 15% of “boomerang” employees have returned to a former employer, and 40% would consider returning. Sounds like the grass may not be greener on the other side of a resignation.
If you’re just feeling a little antsy, but don’t necessarily want a new gig, you might try making some New Year’s resolutions that could help you renew your passion for your current position.
Watch Your Focus
Multitasking creates stress and makes you prone to errors, but many of us don’t realize we’re doing it and the harm it can cause, says Thatcher Wine, author of The Twelve Monotasks: Do One Thing at a Time to Do Everything Better.
“Multitasking, such as doing a job search while you’re at work, can contribute to unhappiness,” he says. “And you won’t tend to make the best decisions.”
Instead, when you’re at work, monotask and give whatever you’re doing your full focus.
“Even if eventually leave, it’s important to do good work and honor your commitments,” says Wine. “Employers will respect people do a good job, even if they plan to leave. They’re more likely to give them a good reference and to encourage their career.”
Humans tend to think about what happened yesterday and what’s going to happen tomorrow, and this leads to being disconnected from the present.
“The present moment is where everything happens; it’s where we get our work done and it’s where we connect with people,” says Wine. “Instead of obsessing over the past and planning for the future, try to be where you are now. You might find the things that you like about your current job. You might realize there’s still a lot of skills to build where you are.”
Look for More Meaning
If you’re feeling bored at work, think about how you could do your job in a way that is dramatically more meaningful to you, suggests John Coleman, author of The HBR Guide to Crafting Your Purpose.
“Being cooped up makes people a bit more impulsive,” he says. “Before you make a huge change in your life, like a job change, think first about whether you can make the job you have the job you want. If you’re ready to leave anyway, you’ve got nothing to lose.”
Employers may be open to letting you restructure your work to avoid losing you. “It’s better for your firm because suddenly they have an engaged, creative employee doing the work in new and exciting ways,” says Coleman.
Infuse Fun into Your Life
Many of us focused too much on work during the pandemic at the expense of doing things for fun. Make sure you plan some recreation and relaxation that helps you disconnect from the always-working mentality.
“Instead of winding down by thinking about what happened that day, detach through something fun and immersive that takes your mind off of everything,” says Wine. “If you don’t know what to do, pick a friend who seems to have a lot more fun than you do and tag along with them. Then let go of everything in your mind.”
It’s important to create downtime every week, says Wine. “Most of us work for 50 weeks a year and take two weeks of vacation,” he says. “There has to be a little bit more of a constant replenishment and nourishment.”
Wine recommends fitting breaks into your workday. “The moment when you feel you have so much work to do and you’re feeling stressed is the exact moment you should go for a walk,” he says. “And if you think you’ll take a break after you get your eight hours of work done, you’ll feel better and come back to work feeling more refreshed and more connected to yourself instead of being a workaholic zombie.”
Strive for Balance
Before the pandemic, a lot of us delayed gratification by putting in the hours and expecting to recoup the benefit later on, says Ethan Kross, author of Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It.
“People are now faced with the recognition that there may not be a later on,” he says. “We’re seeing more of a prioritization of family life and living in the moment.”
While Kross says you could argue that employee balance is better than it was a year ago, it’s important to constantly offset immediate gratification with long-term planning. “The anti-work movement isn’t a sustainable way to live,” he says. “Investing in those 401ks and getting back to work is important. I suspect we’ll see the pendulum begin to swing again toward better balance.”
Be More Self-Reliant
During the pandemic, a lot of employees felt their employers had scaled back on their personal development. Instead, it’s important to be more self-reliant, making sure you get the coaching and development you need, says David Novak, former CEO of YUM! Brands and author of the upcoming book Take Charge of You: How Self Coaching Can Transform Your Life and Career.
“At least 60% of people are working virtually and that keeps them from having the interaction at work,” he says. “It makes it harder to get the coaching and development that you need to get so the big revelation is that you’ve got to be independent, take charge, and coach yourself into the performance that you want to have at the company.”
Coaching yourself takes self-reflection to identify your strengths. Then create an action plan for the future. “You have a conversation with yourself,” says Novak. “Get a self-coaching mindset, open yourself up to growth, develop a self-coaching plan, and uncover transformational insights that will help you go down the path that will get you to where you want to go. Making those moves get you to where you can have happiness and joy.”