1. Take a step back
Often we get so mired in the day-to-day details that we lose sight of the bigger picture. Bobby Umar, president of Raeallan, a transformational training and speaking company in Toronto, suggests asking your coworkers what they like about the job. “I worked many years ago as an engineer,” he says. “I enjoyed lunches with colleagues and asked them about their jobs, which helped me to appreciate those things a little bit more.” That perspective can help you focus on the positive and pinpoint what the real issue is.
2. Seek out new projects
If the issue is that you aren’t feeling challenged, then take the initiative to tackle something new. When suggesting new projects to your boss, Umar suggests “position[ing] it from a place of strength. Managers will feel good about that drive and passion.” Not in a position to add new projects during the workday? Get involved in something at lunch or after work. For instance, you could join the company softball team or offer to organize a canned food drive. That way you’ll have a new activity to keep you engaged in the organization.
3. Ask for feedback
Some workers grow disillusioned because they’re working hard and not getting any positive reinforcement. In some cases, your boss may have no idea you’re going the extra mile. That’s why Vicki Salemi, career expert and author of Big Career in the Big City, recommends scheduling a meeting and letting your supervisor know about your accomplishments. That’s also your chance to ask for feedback. However, Salemi adds that “you’re not always gonna get a pat on the back every time you do something,” so expectations may need adjustment, too.
4. Set boundaries
With Blackberries and wireless internet, many workers feel pressure to be reachable 24/7, which can lead to burnout. “Our workdays have gotten longer, people are working from home in addition to office hours,” says Salemi. She recommends, “set[ting] your own boundaries. Shut off the Blackberry for the weekend. In most cases, no one’s dying over this.” As Salemi points out, “sometimes your best work is done when you detach [from work].”
5. Get out of the office
Conferences, industry mixers, and other networking or professional development opportunities can help give you a fresh perspective on your industry. “Attending a conference is incredible because you have the opportunity to network with people outside of your company,” says Salemi. “It gets you out of your cubicle and helps you to stay abreast of trends in the industry. Often it reminds you of why you chose that profession.” Need we mention that in some cases, your employer will also foot the bill?
Boston-based freelance writer Susan Johnston has covered career and business topics for "The Boston Globe," "Hispanic Executive Quarterly," WomenEntrepreneur.com, and other publications.