All of us, no matter what line of work we are in, can fall into a joyless rut in our career. It’s natural. Think of the last time you got that super awesome thing you were so excited about. Maybe it was a new home, a new car, a new phone, new shoes, or a purse. How much joy did that bring you? Now fast forward a couple of years. Did you still feel the same way about that thing?
Over time, excitement fades and the positive qualities (the big back yard, the leather interior) can get overlooked for the negative (the yard work, the subpar mileage). It’s a common paradigm, and it can often impact our career. What was once challenging and fulfilling can become mundane and unsatisfying.
How can we avoid this? Or, if we find ourselves in such a rut, how do we break free and rediscover joy in our job? Try the following:
- See your job for what it is: Proof of your abilities and your potential. Sure, maybe there are other people out there who could do your job, but your employer didn’t choose them. They chose you. You are the person they decided best embodied the awesomeness they need. That’s quite an honor.
- Step back from the minutia of your daily tasks and notice your impact. Chances are you contribute more than you realize. There are things in the world today that weren’t there yesterday thanks to you. As a technologist, my projects often entail planning and building IT environments from the ground up. After doing that 100 times, it’s easy to start feeling jaded, but when I pause at the end of a project and look at the finished product, I realize that I created something incredibly cool that has a real impact on a client’s business. I bet you leave your own mark on the world every single day.
- Be all the recognition you need. It’s all too common that we expect recognition from others for our hard work, and when that appreciation is lacking, we lose motivation. Try instead to earn your own recognition. Strive to impress the audience of you. Are you proud of what you delivered today? Are you thrilled with the outcome of your efforts? Take a moment to celebrate your wins. Applaud yourself. Maybe nobody else noticed, but make sure you do. When recognition comes from within, it shifts your mindset in a positive way. The icing on the cake? People will see that in you and will be drawn to it, and thus more likely to recognize your contributions.
When I was thirteen, my dad bought me my first computer: A Commodore 64. By today’s standards, it’s a primitive dinosaur, but even with its limited capabilities I found joy in experimenting with technology. Today our tech is lightyears beyond what was possible then, and I’m an IT Architect building virtual datacenters around the globe. Every day I take a moment to see my job through the eyes of that kid with a Commodore, and it’s legitimately awesome. Sometimes all it takes is a small shift in perspective to dramatically change your view.