According to a study conducted by Gallup, only 13%, or one-eighth of employees across 142 countries are engaged at work. This means if you are reading this now, there’s a high chance that you’re not enthusiastic about your job, much less passionate about it.
Fortunately though, there is hope for those of you who are tangled in such a rut, especially if you are one of those who used to cherish what you do but have somehow lost your way. If you are one of those who would like to recover that long-lost devotion to your work, read on to find out how.
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1. Get to the root of the problem
If you’re having problems dragging yourself out of the bed for work every other morning, the first step is to admit that you’re no longer as passionate as you used to be. Similarly, if you are having bad days at work every other day, you might have a problem. That said, this is nothing to be ashamed of.
Instead of lamenting over it on your Facebook feed, sit down and reflect upon what might have caused you to have these issues with work. In order to change for the better, you must first examine what are the things that seem to be going wrong at work or even within yourself.
Once you’re clear what the root of the problem is, you can start making little changes to yourself and your work environment to get over this difficult phase of your career.
Pick apart the problem
Start by journaling about your work at the end of each day to help you sieve out patterns about your work life. For all you know, you might be engaging in a spiral of self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviours that drain some of your energy away each time.
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The problem may be caused by repressed anger about your job. Writing about it helps you vent your frustrations and keep your stress in check.
If you need a more structured way of journaling, do go through the fundamental steps that psychiatrist Dr. Judith Orloff recommends in her book – Positive Energy: 10 Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress and Fear into Vibrance, Strength and Love.
Are you sabotaging yourself?
An all-too-common phenomenon is the fear of success where people find excuses not to accept new challenges because they are afraid to change. Ask yourself if you’ve missed out numerous opportunities for you to take one step up in your career because of such an irrational fear.
If you realize that the problem actually lies with your doubts about your own capability, work them out and you just might get the much needed self-actualization to feel passionate about your work once more.
2. Find new meaning
One possibility as to why you are no longer passionate about your work could be that what lured you into it ten years ago no longer attracts you now. This is not unusual since our priorities change as we enter different phases of life. Nevertheless, there are many aspects of work which one can be passionate about.
For instance, a web developer may start off his or her career with a specific interest in the programming of web pages, but gradually switch to become a trainer for future developers. The love for web development remains, but the focus has now shifted from doing the actual developing to imparting knowledge and experience to new bloods.
In other words, work can form new meanings as people take on different roles within their field of expertise.
Find your new love
Consider then, what are the things that you value now? Are you now thinking about how you can apply your top-notch skills to make a difference in other people’s lives? Maybe you have a fix for an industry-wide problem and you feel that you are obliged to plug the gap by promoting the solution.
If you’re still not sure what missing in your work right now, experiment with different areas of your work to find out which aspect of it keeps you enthusiastic and motivated.
3. Think long-term
In every job, there are bound to be the things we love to do and the things we loathe. Unfortunately, in many instances, the latter takes up a significant portion of our time and energy in our day-to-day work.
We all have our paperwork and housekeeping to deal with, and we often engage in "fire-fighting", or the dealing of urgent matters at hand and the handling of crises as they occur. When such "fire-fighting" phase is sustained for too long, we typically experience a burnout.
The solution is to realign our purpose and role in our job and not be too caught up by these miscellaneous issues that do not form the core of your work. It helps if we are able to recognize the long-term vision or goals which we are trying to achieve.
View under a different light
Instead of mindlessly clearing the monotonous tasks which we are obliged to do every day, think about how these hassles relate to the long-term goals.
Once you can understand that these are the stepping stones to what you truly want to achieve and love doing, you will find that such suffering is not only more bearable, but even pleasant to endure.
This is when you regain your passion for your work to help you see that the small stuff are not worth sweating over and not allow them to puncture your passion further.
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An alternative way to deal with the stuff which you hate to do is to delegate them to other people in your team who may otherwise do a better job. This will be easier if you are a boss yourself and have a couple of subordinates at your expense to handle those tedious and menial tasks like forms, filing and other administrative matters.
If you’re working solo as a freelancer of sort, you might consider hiring part-timers or contract employees to help you manage your accounts, for instance.
Note that delegating work also means that you are transferring some of your responsibility to people who are probably less familiar with the work than you are and are thus more prone to mistakes. But you will be able to distribute your workload and channel your energy to work that matters more to you.
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For the rest of you who work in a team and do not have the luxury of having employees under your charge, discuss with your supervisor or team members on how best to utilize your strengths by delegating what you’re weak at to other members.
True, it still depends on the complex group dynamics and the amount of trust the team members have for each other, but there’s no doubt that any teams will function better if each of the members are able to contribute by doing what they do best.
When you sell the idea in this manner, the team will more likely to buy it and work something out. There will still be certain tasks that nobody likes doing, but at least it should, hopefully, now go to the people who are better at them and dislike them least!
5. Take a vacation
Even if you love your work to bits, you are not invulnerable to the physiological and psychological effects of stress. Prolonged stress depletes the resources in your body, weakens your immune system and eventually manifests itself in physical illnesses and mental breakdowns.
It’s hard for anyone to keep up with what they enjoy doing if they are in poor health, and such lack of energy and motivation will gradually lead to a loss of interest for their work.
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Like anyone who has fallen sick, the logical solution is to get plenty of rest to recharge yourself. Take your mind off work for a period of time with an actual vacation (and don’t check emails during the trip!). Even successful people swear by regular vacations and value the time spent away from work.
Nevertheless, vacation for vacation’s sake is not advisable, so you still need to ensure that rest is acquired (some vacations can be stressful) and that you emerge more energetic and not worse off after the trip. Here are 5 simple tips to help steer you in the right direction and rejuvenate yourself.
6. Challenge yourself
On one end of the spectrum, you can get too stressed out by work that you start losing your passion for it. At the other end, work can get too routine that you no longer find it interesting. The key then, is to find the right balance.
As positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi puts it, the optimal state of mind is attainable when the challenge is just right – neither too difficult nor too easy. Also known as "flow", this state of mind is when one can be completely focus and thoroughly enjoy the task assigned.
Remember back in the day when making an illustration or creating a blog post made you lose track of time? At the end of the process, you come out with a deep sense of satisfaction with a masterpiece well done? If you’re longing to get "in the zone" with your work once again, then try to find ways to raise the bar.
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Mix it up
Many a time, people start getting tired of what they do because they keep doing the same thing over and over again. You realize you are just going through the motions and your work loses meaning. You can stimulate your mind a little by just breaking away from these routines to explore and experiment with different ways of doing your job.
Try to think about how you can improve certain areas of your work or even your organization and see if you can get back some enthusiasm. Alternatively, try asking your boss for new projects and assignments or seek them out yourself if you work alone.
Unless you prefer taking it slow with your career, don’t let the fear of success hold you back from taking up new challenges. Often times you do not even have to wait until you complete them to feel the satisfaction. The kick and curiosity you have when dealing with something novel might just be enough for you to restore your passion for the job.
7. Draw strength from the community
Once you start losing interest in your work, you keep to yourself more and that lack of social interaction makes you feel even worse about your job. Instead of shutting yourself out, make that extra effort to talk to the people around you, including folks from other departments in your organization or anyone else within the industry.
Developing friendships at work translates to happier workers and better productivity. If you currently do not have a close friend at work whom you can confide in about your loss of passion, engaging in networking may help you get one.
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Networking for buddies
Networking with people in the organization or even the industry can also help you regain your passion in several other ways. For one, nothing will energize you more than having deep conversations with people who understand the predicament you are in.
Chances are that your friends may have gone through what you’re going through right now and may be able to provide the much-needed advice and encouragement you need.
Others may even offer you opportunities to develop your talent, by providing projects or assignments that are not available in your current work situation.
All in all, it always feels good to belong to a community where everyone is involved in the same work as you do and appreciate the established work culture
Try seeking out individuals who hold positive attitudes to their work and those whom you know can offer you insightful perspectives – they are usually the ones who have built extensive connections themselves!
8. Be a mentor
You might also have forgotten how dedicated you were when you first started. Not to worry though, since such memories will probably return when you’re mentoring someone new about your work.
When you look at the young twenty-something with a certain eagerness in his or her eyes as he or she tries to pick up the ropes from you, you are bound to be reminded of your passionate self some years back.
This is when you will find out what was it that made you took up the job. Once you are able to recognize the things that perk you up about your work, you can then create and seize opportunities that will help you repossess the enthusiasm you once. Suggest to your boss that you want to be the one introducing newcomers on the job.
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9. Be mentored
While serving as a mentor to someone junior can be a useful self-discovery tool, seeking mentorship from an experienced and inspirational person can even help you iron out that love-hate relationship you have with work. Such mentors should have gone through enough ups and downs in their career to be able to see your situation in a bigger picture than you may have.
With that, they have the gift of opening your eyes to see possibilities when you thought there were none. This is similar to what you may get through your networking efforts, except that with mentorship, the one-to-one sessions can be more in-depth and personal.
All it takes for you is to just arrange for an informal meeting with a role model at your workplace. Of course, you will need to find someone trustworthy enough to reveal your work-related problems before you take him or her as your mentor.
10. Remind yourself what you really love
Sometimes we tend to get too preoccupied with all our deadlines and "fire-fighting" that we just forget what draws us to our work in the first place. Just as we should always find time to smell the roses and appreciate the little blessings we have in our lives, we should also make it a habit to notice all the lovely things about our job.
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Penning down anything good that happens to you at work is a good way to uncover all the things you might have taken for granted – anything from the freedom of freelancing, an outlet for your unlimited creativity in your designing projects, the ability to further develop your craft and even the idea of shaping the world through your works.
Take the time to reflect
At the end of each day, jot down anything that happened at work that made you feel good or proud of yourself. It could be when you presented your finalized design to your clients and realized how much it meant to you, or even that moment when you found the right words to express yourself in your writing.
Keep track of your emotions at work for a period of time before you do a little reflection on these seemingly random events that brighten you up. You will soon realize that deep down, these are the areas of your work that resonate with you.
As you get reminded of the good ol’ days when you wouldn’t give the world for what you do for a living, you will ultimately get reacquainted with your passion.