Feeling overwhelmed by your workload? Stressed about Monday morning? Uninspired by the same old role? Here’s how to get excited about your career again – and there’s not a job ad in sight, says CORA LYDON.
“Happiness at work is not a luxury, it’s an absolute necessity,” argues Alexander Kjerulf, author of Happy Hour is 9 to 5. “You will spend more of your life at work than on anything else (except sleep), so if you don’t like your job, you are wasting a large part of your life, and that misery is guaranteed to spill over into the rest of your life.” But you are the person in the driving seat of your career, and it’s not your employer’s role to make you happy. “Remember, you always have the option to rethink your current circumstances,” believes Tracy Aspel, creative director at The Creative Institute (thecreativeinstitute.ie). “If you take the time to put a positive spin on certain aspects of your work life, you will find yourself becoming more passionate about what you currently do.”
YOU’RE FEELING UNINSPIRED
Power Up Your Career: Don’t wait for someone else to inspire you at work – get on with finding your own inspiration, and it doesn’t even have to relate to the job to have an impact. “Rethink your immediate surroundings,” suggests Tracy. “Every worker has some space. Be it a locker or a cubicle, it is an opportunity to decorate in a way that inspires you. This way, even if you wear a uniform, you can bring a sense of individuality to your work. Rethinking the basics can lead to rethinking other aspects of your job.”
Also, try expanding the role you do by offering to take on extra responsibilities or head up a project you’re particularly interested in. Or if you fancy a change of scenery, ask about the possibility of an internal transfer or at least the opportunity to shadow someone working in another department.
YOU’RE FEELING STRESSED AND OVERWORKED
Power Up Your Career: Look inside for solutions before you jump ship, advises Paul Mullan, career coach and founder of Measurability.ie. “Remember, the grass isn’t always greener. I’d recommend talking to your boss; he or she may work with you to find a solution.” Approach the conversation professionally, bring solutions to the table, and keep in mind that ultimately, the focus needs to be on efficiency.
While you’re talking with the boss, it’s also worth redefining what’s expected of you in your role, and what’s not – perhaps you’re still picking up the pieces from a colleague who was never replaced. Paul suggests trying to ease your workload by farming out some of your tasks: “Delegate to your team, or try to find someone within the organisation who’d love to do some of the tasks you don’t enjoy.”
YOU’RE FEELING POORLY MANAGED
Power Up Your Career: “If we’re placed in a situation where we have no control, where nothing we do matters, we feel terrible,” explains Alexander Kjerulf. “Some managers think employees must be pressured into performing. That when we’re left alone, we choose to do nothing. In fact, the reverse is true, and when given half a chance, we will work our hearts out to accomplish great results.”
Demonstrate this to your bosses by always being one step ahead of them – when they ask you to set up that regular meeting, you can prove your value by having it already booked in. You may not be able to control your bosses’ management styles, but you can alter your response. If you work for a micro- manager, then aim to keep him or her informed of progress at every step. If your boss is more hands- off, then don’t bother him or her with endless questions if you know you have free rein. Adjust your way of working, so it’s in line with your manager’s, and you’ll be happier in your role.
YOU’RE FEELING IGNORED AND UNAPPRECIATED
Power Up Your Career: “It’s up to you to get noticed,” states Paul Mullan. “Too many employees sit back, expecting to get noticed – it won’t happen. Start highlighting your achievements at one-on- one performance reviews or team meetings. Keep your boss regularly updated on ongoing projects, especially successes.” This way, you’re setting up opportunities to get positive feedback from the boss. It’s also about making sure you are known within an organisation, so Paul also advises volunteering for high- profile projects within your company. If you’re feeling looked over for promotion, don’t sit and stew. Meet with your boss and ask about mentoring programmes or professional training – if the company has invested time and money in you in this way, they’ll want to capitalise on the investment by promoting you.
YOU’RE FEELING UNCHALLENGED
Power Up Your Career: Making one small change could be enough to raise new challenges, as Tracy explains. “Rethink your commute. Pick different routes to work. Any interruption to routine helps your brain create new neural pathways and interrupt any patterns you might have around grumbling on the way when you are greeted by familiar sights.”
If you want to really impress the boss, identify one area in your company that could be improved – from how you respond to customers through to lengthy queues in the staff canteen – and brainstorm ideas to resolve it. Your brain will get a workout, while the boss will be impressed with your self-starter attitude.
Follow Cora Lydon on Twitter @coralydon
This article originally appeared in the February issue of IMAGE. The March issue is on shelves now.
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