In times of career crisis – when you’re unemployed, or facing major upheaval on the org chart – you probably long to be bored. Then things settle down, and you get into a routine, and boredom doesn’t seem that great after all. The problem, of course, is that once you’re feeling meh about your job or your career, it’s hard to motivate to do anything about it. Taking a class or setting up networking coffees seems like an awful lot of work. It’d be easier to just put in your time at the old desk and then go home and start methodically working your way through your Netflix queue.
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If this is you, don’t give in to your couch and your remote just yet. There are plenty of things you can do, starting today, to like your present job more and set the groundwork for loving your next job without reservation. The best part is, some of them are easy enough to contemplate doing on a Monday.
1. Practice thinking positively.
Positive affirmations, the act of writing down your desired outcome with a view toward making into a reality, don’t work. Why? Because we’re not magicians, no matter what your one friend who got way into The Secret might try to tell you.
Here’s what does work, though: positive self-talk. Think of it as the flip side to the negative messages many of us tell ourselves all the time, e.g., “I’m bad at my job,” or “I’m late with this project, because I’m not organized.”
“Start by following one simple rule: Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else,” write the staff at the Mayo Clinic. “Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about you.”
2. List five things you like about yourself as a professional.
What makes a good job, good? In part, it’s about fit. When your passions and skills align with requirements, you’re likely to enjoy what you do.
To that end, you need to understand what’s important to you and what you do well. Career coaches can help you do this, for a fee, and many online career assessment tests can help you do this for free (or cheap). But, you can get started today on your lunch break, just by making a list of the things you like best about yourself as a professional.
Are you a good listener, or highly skilled in a particular area, or the person who can make things happen when it’s down to the wire? Whatever your particular strengths are, it’s a good idea to keep them in the front of your mind.
Not only will you feel better about yourself, which will make you happier and thus more productive, you’ll have an idea of what’s important to you at work. That’s essential information, when you’re mapping out your future plans.
3. Find out how much you’re worth.
Are you being paid appropriately for your position, skills, and background? (Are you sure?) If you haven’t interviewed for a while, you might not have an idea of what you’re worth on the job market. It’s always a good idea to know what you’d ask for, if your dream job became available. PayScale’s Salary Survey is a great place to start. Answer its questions, and generate a free salary report – and potentially a nice little self-esteem boost.
3. Do something nice for someone else.
When we talk about networking, we usually talk about what other people can do for you. That’s the wrong way to look at it.
In fact, networking is about relationships, which means that it’s a two-way street. If you don’t need any help from your friends and colleagues today, good news: you’re in the perfect spot to help them. Extend yourself a bit and write that LinkedIn recommendation you’ve been meaning to write for your old intern, or connect a former co-worker with a job opening at your company. You’ll do a good deed, and beyond that, strengthen a connection that could come in handy down the road.
5. Plan to do one thing that will help you meet new people.
As we get older and farther away from college and first jobs, it’s easy to let our networks shrink instead of grow. To keep building new connections, you’ll have to put yourself out there a little bit.
The good news is that this doesn’t necessarily mean committing to spending all your free time in seminars and conferences. Anything that connects you with people who are you in your field – or even interested in the same things that move you – will do.
So join a Lean In circle, or accept that invitation to play softball with another department, or go to Comicon; it doesn’t matter what, and it even doesn’t necessarily have to work-related. As long as you’re meeting new people, you’re growing socially. That’s good for you on an emotional level, but it’ll also provide you with new connections and friends – just what you’ll need, if you decide to make a big career change in the future.
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