I hope that you’re in a great job – I really do. I hope you wake up in the morning thinking of all the great things you get to do at work today, and how much you’re looking forward to seeing your colleagues. But most of us, at some time in our lives, wake up thinking,
“You know, work used to be fun but now it’s just a drag – I’m bored, the people around me are annoying, and I’d rather go fishing.”
What changed your attitude, and how can you regain your enthusiasm and joy at work? If you ask yourself the following questions, they might lead you to some of the answers you need.
Has the Job Changed?
If you’ve been in you job more than a year, is it the same job that you started in? Sometimes jobs change because of reorganizations, or because of changes in your product or service, or because there’s a new need in the company. If you’re not doing the job that thrilled you when you started, maybe it’s time to make some adjustments. Is there a way you can move your current job back toward what you loved doing? If not, can you arrange a transfer within the company to put you into a job that excites you and makes work worthwhile? It might be talking these over with your boss, if you have a good relationship with her, or with the Human Resource department, if they have any authority in the company.
Has Your Team Changed?
When you first started your job, did you get along well with your boss and the people on your team? Did you share jokes and stories, help each other out of situations, and stick together in the face of trouble? That’s a wonderful sort of team to have, but maybe things have changed. Do you still get along with your boss, or has she turned into a controlling tyrant who doesn’t understand you and tries to micro-manage you? And has your team changed from a set of good friends to a random collection of strangers with whom you share no interests. If you fit this picture, it might be time to look at a transfer within the company – to a boss who suits you better and to a work team that accepts you and respects your contributions more.
Has the Company Changed?
Companies that try to stand still in today’s marketplace are doomed, so companies reinvent themselves all the time. Perhaps you joined the company when it was an engineering firm, and now they supply mostly consulting and services. If you’re an engineer, that could be pretty frustrating. Maybe the company has grown from the little startup that you found so compelling to a large, bureaucratic firm where you feel lost. And maybe you joined a large, secure firm and now find out that they’ve lost market share and are facing major downsizing. To some degree you need to adapt to the company’s changes, but it they’re making you unhappy it might be time to do something more drastic and look for a company that suits you better.
Have You Changed?
And finally, maybe you have changed and grown so that you don’t fit your job any more. If you joined the company as a junior employee, you may have outgrown your job: learned everything it has to teach. When people don’t have opportunities to learn they get bored and disillusioned, and that might be affecting your mood. And maybe your values and interests have changed so the company’s mission doesn’t fit you any more. If you joined a company with extensive defense contracts and you’re starting to question war as a way of settling disputes, the discord between the company’s mission and your conscience may be making you miserable.
What Can You Do About It?
If your job no longer excites and challenges you, and makes you miserable every day, you have to ask yourself,
“What would life be like in five years if I did nothing?”
Perhaps you’d be able to tolerate it, but the chances are that you’d be completely miserable, stressed and burned out. That means that you have to do something, but the choice of action is very wide. You might be able to fix things by minor changes in the job, or be transferring to a new team or boss. You might feel better if you left your current company and found one that suits you better. And if things are bad enough, you might have to think about leaving your career altogether and starting afresh in a field that is new and fresh and rewarding. Clearly, this is a big decision and you’ll need help from friends, family, and maybe a coach in deciding what to do.
About the Author
Bruce Taylor is the Owner and Principle of Unison Coaching, and provides corporate and executive coaching to a wide variety of businesses including engineering, human resource, consulting, and recruiting firms. Mr Taylor has extensive background in Psychology, Human Resources, and Software Engineering. He holds a Masters degree in Computer Science from Duke University, a Masters in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts, and a Certificate in Job Stress and Healthy Workplace Design from the University of Massachusetts. He can be reached at http://www.unisoncoaching.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.