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Monday, November 29, 2021  

How to Fall Back in Love with Your JobPublished 9/17/2002

We all reach points in our jobs occasionally when we aren’t really feeling burned out or unhappy, but we do notice an uneasiness under the surface. Our work isn’t as fulfilling as it used to be. Perhaps it has become too routine, or there are certain tasks or people we avoid. A sense of dread blankets us whenever we think about them.

Restlessness is a good clue that we have reached this stage. We may find ourselves becoming critical of little things. We have less patience. We may feel hopeless because we have little control over the situation.

Job dissatisfaction may be too strong of a term for this periodic lag of energy. We basically still like our jobs, but even the best jobs have times of stress and mediocre results. Everyone hits a slump sometimes. You know it’s time to do something, though, when you start looking at the Sunday paper’s help wanted ads, or seriously consider calling that phone number plastered on telephone poles around town for easy work-at-home jobs!

As someone who has had to change jobs several times as my husband’s career took him around the country (except coming to Oklahoma City University was my choice!), I speak from experience when I say that no job is perfect and that changing positions is not usually the answer. It is impossible to scope out a potential new job fully and find all (even most) of the negative factors. No one can walk into a new position completely aware of all the challenges and problems it will bring.

Instead, I recommend we help ourselves to get back in touch with that sense of excitement and anticipation our current job used to bring. For example, maybe you don’t have burnout, but you have lost the feeling that what you do is important or has personal meaning. To reconnect with that drive, volunteer to do a project that has significance for you. Rekindle that spark of interest and fulfillment.

If possible, give some work away or trade a task that you hate for one you would love by finding someone who has the opposite interests and would like to have a change too. Are you working yourself to death when those around have time for coffee breaks? Rather than becoming angry or resentful, examine whether all that you do is important. Ask your coworkers how they manage to get everything finished.

Maybe you really do have more to do than most people. Get rid of at least one irrelevant or unimportant task that you really despise, especially if no one else would notice or care if you didn’t do it. If you can’t just eliminate it, do it first and do it fast so you can feel the relief that getting it behind you brings. Then you can look forward to the rest of your day.

Mend a relationship that has gone sour. Almost all of us have to work with someone who just doesn’t quite match our personalities or work style. I remember one guy at a former job I had. He did the work of two men—Dumb and Dumber. He could suck the joy out my day faster than a Dirt Devil. Eventually I learned that whenever we let people who irritate us ruin our mood at work, we give them tremendous power to control our job satisfaction.

Next, spend more time associating with positive thinkers rather than the whiners or destroyers. Tap into the energy of encouragers who choose to interpret events positively. Avoid the habit of chronic complaining and recreational criticizing.

If you’ve lost your self confidence or sense of worth, ask for positive feedback. Since the times you feel down are the right times to get dumped on, aim for ways to boost your pride in your self and your work. The time for constructive criticism will come soon enough.

I had a boss in a former job whose BUN was higher than her IQ. She didn’t have a clue how to lead. She was mean, ineffective, and wasted an important position. Her only administrative strategy was to "motivate" her staff by criticizing us. We started avoiding her and dreaded coming to work. It dawned on us that returning the criticism would only worsen the situation. By purposefully asserting ourselves to ask for and giving positive feedback occasionally, we were able to turn her around—not a full 180 degrees, but enough to rescue the situation.

Finally, get silly at work as often as possible. Lighten up. Take care of your health. And have a great interest or activity outside of work to look forward to when you leave each day.

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