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How to Fall Back in Love with Your Job

Reignite the spark at work.

Remember how exciting it was when you first landed your job? You couldn’t wait to tell friends and family, “I got it!” Fast-forward to today and perhaps much of the hoopla has gone from sizzle to fizzle. If you’ve found yourself routinely hitting the snooze button during the week, it may be time to infuse some life back into your job.

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Change to any routine is never easy, so most choose the path of least resistance, living in a dark office version of "Groundhog Day"—until there’s no salvaging a job. But why not choose to fall back in love with your work life, rekindling that same feeling you had when you first started?

Here are some tips that can help:

1. Reflect on what appealed to you.

What made you celebrate the job in the first place? Chances are it was more than just the paycheck. Maybe it was working with a great group of people; putting your skills to the test in new ways; or having good prospects for future career growth.

Think about whether certain events shifted your responsibilities or projects over time. Perhaps you’ve simply lost appreciation for what you do have. You may actually have an environment of friendly coworkers, challenging work and growth potential — but may not see the forest through the trees due to some nagging issues.

2. Ask for what you want.

It may be time for an action plan and communicating your needs to your manager. One thing is for sure: settling for the status quo won’t build your happiness or job satisfaction.

Management may not recognize that you may be burning out; could use more assistance on your team; or that your pay has been stagnant for years. Even the best leaders aren’t mind-readers. You’ll enhance your prospects if you approach your boss thoughtfully and non-emotionally — with facts to support your request. And if you don’t see immediate results, you’ll at least know where you stand.

3. Learn something new.

Sometimes the root of job dissatisfaction is boredom. You’ve mastered all you need to know to excel... at a stagnant (and dated) job description. Now you just go through the motions daily.

Try to energize your job by expanding your knowledge base and skill set. Attend professional conferences and network at local meetings. Learning how others excel in their careers can be invigorating—and translate into your own advancement if you're open to it.

Getting out of the office and meeting new people with common career interests not only has a refreshing effect on your job. It helps build your networking skills in a social media-centric business world—where human connectivity and social skills can seem elusive at times.

You don't need to leave the office to be in a learning mode. Volunteering to become a mentor to junior staff (mentors often learn a great deal from their mentees) or signing up for internal training programs—can also broaden your skills. These pursuits can have the added advantage of putting you on the radar with management for leadership potential.

4. Hit the reset button to reduce stress.

Avoiding breaks and postponing vacation time due to heavy work demands can cause anyone to lose interest in their job over time. You’re more likely to obsess about small frustrations or make careless mistakes if you don't make enough time for yourself.

Boundary setting is an important part of your personal career growth. If you try to meet everyone's needs (but your own), all the time, you’ll ultimately be no good to anyone. It also may be time for a diplomatic chat with your boss to discuss workloads and priorities. Knowing how to manage up with your boss will keep the relationship healthy, and stress levels to a minimum.

5. Update your surroundings.

It might seem like a subtle point, but your environment does impact your motivation. People spend most of their waking hours at work, so it makes sense to evaluate your workspace. Are the colors bright and cheerful? Have you refreshed photos and other personal items recently? How is the lighting at your desk? It’s hard to get fired up about work if your personal space is drab and dreary.

The same goes with how you present yourself. When was the last time you made an update to your wardrobe? Simple changes like adding an accessory (new shoes, a scarf or cool belt) can brighten your mood. You don’t have to break the bank to “update” a little.

6. Switch it up.

Consider pursuing lateral moves at your company. The same role might be available in a different department — or a related position may be an option in your department.

If you have the experience to back it up, it may be time to ask for more responsibility and greater challenge — a promotion. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions to managers about your capabilities and the options that might be a good fit. For example, you can always ask to be involved in new projects or create ones that you feel will advance the department or company. Even if the timing isn’t right, you’ve at least planted the seed for the future.

However, if you’ve tried every avenue and feel trapped, it may be time to start looking for greener pastures. Life is too short to squander it in a bad job. And the current low unemployment environment is on your side.

Your job happiness begins with you. Are you ready to fall in love with your job again?

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