If having a job is like being in a relationship, then exciting and inspiring gigs can, over time, become monotonous and irritating — like decades-old marriages. This is why people who’ve been doing the same thing for years tend to get burned out and fed up and begin looking for new opportunities. But this isn’t easy.
According to career coach Kerry Hannon, author of Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness, not everyone is able to leave a job once the romance is gone. Jumping ship often means forgoing pay and health insurance for a period of time, and starting someplace else could necessitate taking a pay cut. One solution, Hannon says, is falling in love with your job all over again.
In a USA Today post titled “Hate your job? Don’t quit it, fix it: Here’s how,” Hannon outlines five of her top tips for rediscovering the joy of your job. No. 1: “Make a change — even a small one.” As she says, boredom is the biggest problem for many Americans thinking about quitting, and by pushing yourself to shake things up at the office, even in some tiny way, you’ll increase your chances of finding happiness again.
While you’re thinking about how to accomplish this, “declutter your desk.” That’s next on Hannon’s list, and while it may seem like a little thing, it’s “liberating and empowering,” she says, as it allows you to take control of your situation and literally purge yourself of stuff that’s weighing you down.
That’s a solo task; the next suggestion, “volunteer,” is all about interacting with others. Doing volunteer work for a nonprofit is a win-win, Hannon says, since it gets you focusing less on your career woes and more on helping folks in need. Plus, if you volunteer via your company, you’ll have a shot to bond with coworkers, and that might help you feel more engaged at work.
Another way to feel more engaged: “Raise your hand and ask for new duties.” This comes back to the boredom thing; if you’re able to challenge yourself at work and accept responsibilities that draw on your skills and perhaps make you feel a little nervous, you’ll be all the better for it.
Finally, Hannon is an advocating of “finding ways to telecommute.” She cites a study by the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas that shows people who work from home are happy, loyal, and less likely than their peers to have unplanned absences.
Of course, not every situation can be fixed, and Hannon tells USA Today she’s occasionally had to change jobs. She’s always waited until she’s had something else lined up, though, and she’s never complained or expressed her unhappiness to colleagues while going through the job-search process.
“Life is too short not to spend your time making a difference and finding meaning and joy in your daily work life,” Hannon says. “There’s no escaping the fact that work is an integral factor for most of us when we hit adulthood, so make it work for you.”