Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Making the Job You Have the Job You Love

Brand new jobs are exciting. In the beginning, we cherish them. Every day holds new opportunities for learning and welcome challenges. They make us feel edgier, funnier, and - let's face it - more attractive. Unfortunately, reality soon sets in and the gap between our expectations and the more mundane truths can assume chasm-sized proportions. Resentment starts to build. We feel tired, irritated, and generally moody. Pretty soon, we're dreading the every step from the front door, to the coffee machine, to the cubicle.
So, what do we do when the sparkly new job patina starts to tarnish?
We are often tempted to cruise USAJOBS, Craigslist or innumerable other job listing sites in hope of finding a better job. But just like the elusive perfect mate, the next "perfect" job is likely, before long, to reveal its imperfections. Some people become workplace Lotharios, eternally seducing new employers and courting new jobs until they lose their appeal. But this isn't a practical solution for most of us. Rather than cruising job listing sites for hunkier prospects, consider these 5 tips for rediscovering your passion for your current job.
  1. Look for new challenges in your current job
    If there's an area of interest you want to explore, see if your boss will let you do so in your current position. For example, if you work as an administrative assistant but are interested in marketing, ask your boss if you can take on a small marketing project (you'll have to pitch one) or offer to help out and assist a person or team that already has one. If you do a good job, your boss may allow you to expand your role in this new area.
  2. Attend a professional development event
    Sometimes our roles become rote, and we can't remember why we wanted to be a dentist/photographer/ventriloquist. Almost every profession has a corresponding yearly event where one can mingle with like-minded folks and share new ideas and professional techniques. Feeling like your professional skills are continually developing is a career aphrodisiac. Hopefully your employer will foot the bill. In addition, many professional associations have regional quarterly or even monthly meetings that are easier and less expensive to attend, but which may yield much of the same benefit as the annual national meetings.
  3. Rearrange your office/cube
    Stacks of papers do not havens make. Toss out extraneous garbage, reorganize, then consider what else you can do to improve the appearance of your workspace. Plants can help us feel like we aren't trapped in a synthetic square of misery. Colorful plants can soak up the CO2 you create and improve the quality of your air, and they're pretty. New lighting (ambient is almost always better than overhead) pictures of places where we've been or would like to go can make our day at the office feel infinitely more bearable.
  4. Stop complaining
    Many of us are natural-born complainers, but we can learn to be optimists. Stop complaining at work and about work. Misery begets more misery, and eventually our negativity eclipses any of the good that once seemed so obvious in our jobs. Every time you feel the urge to lampoon your boss or whine about meetings, bite your tongue and make a mental note about the good that could potentially come from that meeting, or from a frank discussion with your boss.
  5. Maybe it isn't your work. Get a life!
    Feeling tired and achy? Acid reflux getting you down again? It must be that darned job, right? Well, maybe, but in all likelihood it's one of myriad other things that makes your job less bearable...like that Taco Bell fiesta platter that you gobbled up at lunch. Most of us aren't making healthy food choices, getting sufficient exercise, or letting our friends and family know how much we love them often enough. Most of us blame our jobs when we feel dissatisfied with life. Given the fact that we spend most of our time at work, this isn't a surprise, but oftentimes it's our inability to balance work with other life necessities that makes for an unhappy union. Go dust off your bike, see a movie, or call somebody whom you've lost touch with. You won't hate your job as much, we promise.

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