I am always surprised to hear how many people don’t like their job. They may love the money, the security and the status that come with it, but somehow they resent their job and feel stuck in an environment that does not inspire them.
If this describes how you feel about your job, have a think about the price you could be paying for remaining in this situation. Do you feel low on energy, bored, overwhelmed or even burnt out? Are you often ill, or do you suffer from mood swings?
On the other hand, you may be one of those amazing people who have chosen a career that inspires them. They wake up in the morning feeling excited to start their day’s work. Their eyes light up when they talk about their job because it fulfils and energises them.
If you are not yet part of this second group, would you like to know how to turn your work life around from running on the hamster wheel to pursuing your life’s mission?
Here’s my 10 Step Plan for falling in love with your job:
1. Establish whether you love your current career
This may sound obvious, but many people never think about this in depth. When they were young, they didn’t know what they wanted to do; they just started learning a skill that interested them in some way. Maybe it was something they were good at in school, or related to a job that was recommended to them or that otherwise seemed to be a “sensible” choice. After completing their training, it then seemed logical to apply for jobs in that line of work. They became comfortable in that career and years later think it is too late to change.
Does this sound like you? Well, it’s never too late!
I left corporate life after 20 years and it was one of the best things I have ever done. I retrained as a career and life coach and now my days feel fresh and inspiring again.
So be honest with yourself and consider how much you really like your current career. If you are hesitating, think about what you would rather do.
A career coach like me will help you establish what matters most to you in life and then explore what opportunities you have in your current job to pursue those things. If the answer is none or little, then it is time to consider alternatives.
You may think that any alternative would be impossible because you need the money and cannot afford to start another career. Yet consider the costs of working in a profession you don’t enjoy: the impact on your emotional and physical wellbeing, as well as that of your family who depend on you in more ways than just financially.
2. Make your career part of your mission in life
Part of feeling inspired about our career is a sense that it contributes to our own purpose in life. We feel most inspired if we pursue our own mission, not just that of the company we work for. Again, few people think about what they want that mission to be. Is it to provide for your family, to instigate social change, to serve a particular part of society, to grow spiritually – or something completely different?
How does your job interact with your home, relationships, family, finances, health and wellbeing, friends, fun and spirituality? What needs to happen in those areas for you to look back on your life with a sense of fulfilment and achievement?
Once you feel that both your career generally and your current job are part of a master plan for your life, you will find that you engage with your work at a much more positive and resourceful level.
3. Make sure your career challenges you
Even if our job matches our core values and supports our mission in life, we can become bored or disillusioned if the practical day-to-day work fails to inspire us. Whilst there is a part of us that quite likes the comfort of routine work, there is also a part that yearns for variety, challenge and growth.
Make sure that your job continues to stretch you. Not so much as to overwhelm you, but enough to help you learn, grow and move closer to your life goals.
4. Build your personal brand
Some people perceive themselves as a small wheel in a large corporate machine. It’s a passive mind-set that can feel heavy and disempowering.
Try seeing yourself as a one-person business within the company you work for. Build a personal brand by finding your specialisation and becoming an expert in it. Display and make best use of your values and core strengths. Take pride and ownership in serving external and internal customers.
5. Make time to recharge
Look after your wellbeing. In the long term you won’t serve anybody by burning yourself out. The quality of your work will suffer; you may have to take sick leave, you’ll become short-tempered and lack energy to engage with the people you love.
Choosing a career that inspires us will go a long way, but we still need a routine that helps us recharge and relax. Meditation and physical exercise are great for this.
6. Make sure that your value is recognised
We love to contribute value and deserve to be recognised for it. For some of us the result of our efforts will be enough reward, but most people also like to receive praise, respect and financial recognition.
Know your value and notice when there is no fair exchange from your employer, line manager or colleagues. Staying in an environment where we are not valued could indicate a victim mentality or lack of self-appreciation.
If you feel you are undervalued, let your manager know. He or she may simply not be good at showing how much they value you. This is something they have to learn if they want to inspire and retain quality staff. If things don’t change for you, look for alternative positions where your contributions are valued.
7. Learn to love your clients
We all need clients, but they can sometimes be demanding, unreasonable and difficult to deal with. Building resentment towards them will adversely impact our job satisfaction.
If we feel such resentment, sometimes we just need to change our perception and focus. We can increase our empathy for clients by training ourselves to look at issues through their eyes. Make it a game or skill to satisfy even the most difficult of your clients. Become a master in service quality. Improving your communication and conflict management abilities will help. Can you see how this could increase your pride and sense of achievement?
You may find this hard if you lack interest in the clients or products of your organisation, or if you don’t believe in the quality of the products. If this is the case, it may be time to change the industry you’re working in. You may be able to avoid customer-facing roles if this has become a big issue for you.
You will, however, still have to deal with internal customers within your organisation.
8. Become a master in time management
No matter what the size or nature of your organisation, the reality of modern life means that there will always be more demands on you than hours in the day. Good time management skills are therefore important. They can help you feel more in control over your day and increase your satisfaction with your productivity.
Learn to tackle the most important jobs first, be clear about your own priorities and reduce distractions such as emails and social media. There are many great books on this subject. I particularly like “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy.
9. Have fun!
Life is about balance. Even if you have the career of your dreams, it will only be one of many parts of your life that need to be satisfied. Make sure that you have fun at work and outside of work – with your colleagues, friends, family and on your own. Seek a regular dose of laughter, adventure and holidays.
10. Notice warning signs
Our body tells us if things are not going well. As much as we sometimes want to ignore the signals it sends us, we can’t work it like a mule. Our body will have its way. A few examples of warning signs to look out for are:
- Lack of energy
- Ailments and illnesses
- Impaired vision
- Sleeping problems
- Mood swings
- Seeking comfort or relaxation through food, caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol, sex, gaming or other addictive/numbing substances or behaviours
If you have been experiencing any of the above, consider what your body is trying to tell you. What have you been neglecting? What will happen if you don’t change your life and things continue this way?
Don’t wait until the symptoms become stronger or you hit rock bottom with something serious like a burn-out, stroke, heart attack, depression or the breakdown of your relationships. I did not listen to those warning signs and suffered a pretty bad burn out. You can do better!
Over to you!
How far are you already on your journey to loving your career?
If you rate it at anything lower than 8 out of 10, act now as you deserve better. You will probably be working most of your life, so make it an 8 or higher. If you rate your job satisfaction between 8 and 10, what is still missing?
Stop now and schedule some time in your diary to work through the above list, either on your own or with the help of a career coach, who will be able to take you much deeper into these issues than you can go alone.
Please share your thoughts, experiences and successes with me. I would love to hear from you.