6/23/2014 4:15 PM ET|
5 ways to find your passion even at a job you hate
The time you spend at your work may be the least favorite part of your day, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.
If you hate waking up every morning because your job isn't fulfilling, you're not alone. According to Gallup's State of the Global Workplace survey, 87 percent of workers are either not engaged or are actively disengaged from their jobs. Unfortunately, once you've been in a position for a while, it's easy to get into a rut where your 9-to-5 is simply a means of paying the bills.
Thankfully, experts say there are ways to find your passion even in a job that's less than perfect. Here are five ways to find the silver lining in a job that's gone stale.
1. Try to control your trajectory as much as possible
Your job won't always allow you to control your own trajectory, but there are ways you can influence it, says Solonia Tedros, co-founder of The Change School.
"Some companies are more open to employees carving out their trajectory than others," she says. "There's no guarantee that your managers will be completely supportive when you try to alter your path, but it's important to be proactive and try. Hopefully you can get on a personal development plan that will allow you to try some new things."
Some companies encourage all employees to step forward with ideas that could improve business, even if those ideas fall outside the realm of what you were hired to do, Tedros says. Other companies will ask employees during their annual review, "Where do you want to be in six months, 12 months or two years from now?" When you're asked those questions, respond honestly and paint a picture of what you want.
"Let them know, 'Here are my responsibilities that I can continue, but here are my goals and some projects that I'd like to have a go at and see how I perform,' " she suggests. "If they value you as an employee, they will work with you to ensure you're contributing in a way that you find fulfilling."
2. Identify a mentor
If your company doesn't offer a formal mentoring program, identify someone you think you can learn from and ask them if they would be willing to meet with you a few times a month, Tedros suggests.
"This is one of the small day-to-day things that allow you to meet new people or strengthen relationships while also taking control of your work life," she says.
Even if you are unable to meet with your mentor as often as you'd like, you've still identified someone who will be in your corner and advocate for you when necessary.
"Shadowing someone more senior or having them as a mentor can help you segue into a different role — it can help you shift your path within the company," Tedros says. "Once you start seeing how different roles function within the company, you'll have more courage to tackle different projects. Find allies who see your vision and want to see you succeed."
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3. Talk to your boss about other opportunities within the company
Don't be afraid to approach your boss with a request to take on a project or broaden your scope at work, says Kerry Schofield, co-founder of self-discovery and career platform Good.co. Just make sure you do your research before you start the conversation.
"Go in knowing as much as you can about where your company is headed and what your boss is like," Schofield says. "Whatever you want, you have to make it appealing to others — it has to sound like it's going to benefit the company and make your boss look good."
Basically, make sure that whatever you pitch is in line with the priorities at your company, but don't push too hard.
"Don't sell it so hard that you put them off," Schofield says. "They know that a more engaged employee will be more productive. Make it clear what you want and let it be known you're willing to give up evenings and weekends to make it work."
4. Get a new certification or degree
If you have the time and money, getting a professional certification or secondary degree can make all the difference in what may seem like a dead-end job, Schofield says.
"I would encourage anything that gives you a leg up — even look into free development training offered by the company, or online courses from somewhere like Kahn Academy," Schofield says.
The goal is that you'll gain something that helps you see your work in a new light, she explains. You'll have the benefit of being able to discuss your training or education with your boss the next time you meet.
"You've got something to chat about with your manager, or in an interview for your next job," she says. "While the online courses won't lead to anything formal, they can offer you a new skill set or a new approach to your work."
Training and development courses are not only advantageous on a professional level, but employees who take training courses may even find new areas of interest within the company, says Beth Ruffing, manager of HR services for Insperity.
"This shows employers that [employees] are still active and engaged, even they do not always feel passionate about their job," she says.
5. Seek out positives (including friends!)
Take the time to literally list what is enjoyable about your job, Ruffing suggests. This can be minor items such as break rooms and outdoor seating areas, more important perks such as paid volunteer time and training opportunities, or working with certain types of clients.
"This will help to focus on the positive aspects of the company," she says.
If there are co-workers with whom you connect, spend more time with them, Ruffing says.
"While the workplace isn't the same as a social gathering, it is important to have people you feel comfortable around and who can serve as confidantes."
If your company offers paid volunteer time or coordinates fundraisers in the community, take advantage.
"Volunteering can make individuals feel good about giving back to the community, teach them new skills and help connect with others," she says.
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