Have you fallen out of love with your career? Before you throw in the towel, check out these tips on how to reignite the career spark that’s been extinguished by job burnout.
12 Ways to Reignite the Spark for Your Career
Americans work more hours on average than most countries in this world. Though the American work ethic is admirable, it often leads to burnout, which affects employee health and business productivity. Burnout can cause insomnia, chronic fatigue, illness, loss of appetite, anxiety, depression, cynicism, and detachment, according to psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter.
You won’t see this list of mental and physical side effects in any job description or disclaimer. Therefore, it’s up to you to recognize burnout when it happens and prevent making decisions you’ll later regret.
Common symptoms of burnout include:
- Lack of enthusiasm for what you used to enjoy
- Impaired concentration
- Increased irritability
- Missed deadlines and poor-quality work
- Frequent headaches, colds, or gastrointestinal discomfort
- Negative self-talk and a sense of hopelessness
When you feel your career flame extinguishing, take a step back before calling it quits. Use these tactics to help rekindle the fire.
1. Figure Out What Changed
First, think about when you stopped enjoying your line of work. Whether it’s been a few weeks or a couple of years, try to estimate the start of your dissatisfaction. Then, consider other aspects of your life that may have influenced a change in overall happiness. Sometimes, when one area of your life is out of whack, it affects all the other areas, and it’s hard to tell which is the real source of the problem.
If you’re sure your career is the culprit, then attempt to figure out the more specific issues. For example, you may realize that:
- You’re bored
- You don’t like the people you work with
- You feel unheard or that you cannot influence change
- Your boss is overbearing
- You feel constrained
- You feel like you’re not growing
- You don’t make as much money as you’d like
- You don’t have enough time flexibility or vacation days
- You’re sick of traffic and being away from home
Write down your own list of reasons why you’re unhappy with work. Then, ask yourself: Are any of the reasons within my control? Some issues, such as an overbearing boss or frustrating traffic, are tough to mitigate. However, sometimes all it takes is an attitude adjustment or a constructive conversation with management to make sure you’re getting what you need.
2. Remember the Good Times
Consider what you like about your job and what made you start that line of work. There had to be some reason you ventured down that path. Were you attracted to the income, fast-paced work environment, or challenging assignments? Think about the positive aspects of what do you and how your work makes you feel proud and accomplished.
After a quick brainstorm, consider whether the good times outweigh all the negative aspects. What would it take to make those good times happen again? Is it possible to conjure up the energy that you had when you first started? Maybe complacency reared its ugly head and you need to put in a little grunt work to get the excitement flowing again.
3. Kiss and Make Up
Okay, don’t actually kiss your coworkers or send kissy face emoticons through email, but attempt to amend any lingering conflict. Unresolved issues can create heavy emotional burdens, even in remote work environments. They also tend to compound and seep into the details of everyday interactions.
Is it possible that you still enjoy your job and that your beef is with someone in the office? If you interact or work closely with someone you can’t stand, practice letting go of past quarrels and maintaining a sense of professionalism. View your interactions as a means to an end and try not to take things personally. If you’re not going attempt to resolve workplace conflict using a formal process, then just focus on your work instead of the emotional aspects attached to interactions. Make sure you do the very best job possible and maintain a friendly, mature demeanor so that problems don’t escalate.
4. Seek Professional Guidance
Get a fresh perspective on your career and industry by networking with professionals in your field. Attend a conference, research individuals on LinkedIn, or join a professional organization and attend local chapter meetings. When you get an opportunity, ask people questions like:
- Why did you choose this career?
- What motivates you every day?
- What personal benefits does your job afford you?
- How does this line of work help you make a difference in the world?
- How does this job help you structure your desired lifestyle?
- What are your biggest challenges?
- What do you do when you hit a wall or feel like you’re at a dead end?
The more insight you get from others, the more motivated you might be to stay the course and find new ways to invigorate your enthusiasm.
5. Renew Your Vows
There’s always something new to learn in any field of work. Maybe you could use a new challenge or something specific to work towards to feel motivated. Consider adding some letters to your name by earning an advanced degree or certification. The easiest way to learn is through online classes that you can take in your spare time.
Ask your employer about tuition reimbursement or the potential for promotion with additional education. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that having a master’s degree in business, education, healthcare, or STEM-related fields can increase income from 14 to 89 percent. Therefore, the more you invest in your education, the more valuable you are to your employer and the more marketable you are to recruiters if you decide to change jobs.
6. Focus on the Journey
No matter what you do for a living, some aspects of work are just plain dull and burdensome. However, if you measure your job based on all the things you don’t like doing, you miss the big picture.
Think about your overall career path, not just the job itself. What does your job afford you? Perhaps you’re able to provide for your family, take yearly trips to Europe or South America, or save for a down payment on a home.
Sometimes, professionals choose careers not because they are passionate about the work, but because they can master the job and effectively use it to support and fulfill other aspects of their lives.
7. Get a Hobby
Though it makes sense to turn your passions into a career, it’s a lot harder than it seems, and it doesn’t guarantee that you won’t burn out. Instead of crafting an ideal career path that fully expresses your soul, consider using your job to build capital to support your passions.
For example, you can start a small business on the side, fund a non-profit, create art to sell online, or write screenplays and shoot short films. It’s possible that you need something else beyond work to keep your excitement and energy levels up and give your career a whole new purpose.
8. Take a Break
When is the last time you truly took a vacation? Sometimes, the only way to recover from burnout is to take a break. Even people who love their jobs need time to relax and reset. If planning a trip sounds more like work than fun, then take a long weekend at home to binge watch shows or tackle that growing stack of books on your nightstand. When your fingers start twitching from inactivity, do something creative or physically challenging.
No matter how you choose to kick back, turn off all email notifications and shut off the computer. Allow yourself to disconnect from the office and give your complete attention to other areas of your life. Hopefully, a little time away will rejuvenate your spirits and provide clarity.
9. Improve the Way You Work
It’s not just your boss or the workload that determines your level of happiness. The way in which you work also influences your overall job satisfaction. Find ways to be more efficient, produce better quality work, and automate mindless tasks. Attempt to improve relationships with coworkers by engaging more in conversation. Compliment someone on a job well done or offer encouragement to someone having a rough day. Boosting other people’s morale often increases your own.
If you’re not already telecommuting, maybe it’s time to bring your work home. Talk to your employer about working from home one day per week to start. If all goes well, add more telecommuting days until you feel satisfied. Many professionals enjoy their careers more when they have flexibility and time to care for their family and personal needs.
10. Put Your Work to Bed
Make sure you actually clock out at the end of each day. Despite the marvels of cloud computing and the ease of communication, you need to create clear boundaries to prevent working nonstop. Telecommuters especially need boundaries, since work and home share the same space.
Remember that working from home doesn’t mean you’re available round the clock. It helps to create a regime so that you dedicate time to both work and personal life.
11. Practice Safe Stress
Little bits of stress can help keep your engine fueled throughout the day, but too much clogs your pipes and shuts down your brain. Based on numerous research studies on workplace stress, The American Institute of Stress found that the leading causes of job stress include:
- Issues with people
- Work-life balance
- Job security
To prevent workplace stressors from influencing your job satisfaction and health, practice stress management techniques like meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or exercising. If you telecommute, make a point to leave the house every day for a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood. Drink plenty of water, get adequate sleep, and actively manage the thoughts inside your head. Flush out negative self-talk and replace self-destructive thoughts with positive statements.
Your health is the cornerstone of your life. When you take good care of your body and mind, you naturally feel refreshed, energized, and confident.
12. Play or Pivot
If your daily job tasks are somewhat lackluster, find ways to make them more fun. Play your favorite music and challenge yourself to get as much work done as possible during each song. Shoot for fewer errors or higher efficiency. Give yourself a prize when you accomplish your goal.
However, if little games and other tactics prove ineffective, consider how you can use your skills to pivot in your career. For example, if your work is primarily focused on data entry, consider pivoting to medical coding. If you’re up to your ears with sales or customer service, consider teaching online classes to share your hard-earned knowledge with aspiring business developers.
Pivoting doesn’t necessarily mean you have start over or make a dramatic shift. It can simply mean that you find other ways to leverage your experience so that you learn new skills and enhance your overall career.
Keep the Fire Burning
The key takeaway is to think things through before jumping ship. Reflect on the good old days and what initially drew you to your line of work. Consider the bigger picture and how your work contributes to the whole, such as making other people’s lives easier and affording you a comfortable lifestyle. It’s quite possible that you still enjoy your career, but there are aspects of your daily job that you need to improve. Once you identify the areas you can control, take action and attempt to resolve the discrepancies.
If you’re still down in the dumps and nothing seems to work, by all means, try something new. Maybe you need a change of scenery or a new challenge. Check out the Virtual Vocations Job Database for ideas on where to pivot. Who knows? Maybe after searching for a new career, you’ll realize you already have the job of your dreams.
Photo Credits: 1. iStock.com/sirastock; 1. iStock.com/ymgerman
Joining Virtual Vocations grants you access to our hand-picked telecommuting jobs database. Our family-owned company is committed to helping you find quality job leads. We strive to help make your work-at-home job search faster, easier and safer by bringing you scam-free jobs that offer some form of telecommuting or virtual work.
Learn how our service works, browse job leads by location and career category, or search hundreds of hand-screened telecommuting jobs to find legitimate work-at-home job leads that match your skills and background.