Sooner or later, no matter how much you love what you do, you’ll hit the doldrums in your career. These low-energy moments can feel like the end of the world, especially when there’s no real explanation for why you’re feeling uninspired.
Before you freak out or start blaming yourself for being an ingrate, take heart: it’s normal to have times when you’d rather be doing anything else but your job. It doesn’t even mean that you’re on the wrong track, or that you need to make major changes. Work with that feeling, not against it, and you can turn a ho-hum time into the beginning of the next great phase of your career.
- Find a focus other than work.
There’s a reason farmers don’t plant the same crops in the same fields year after year. It depletes the soil.
Rotate your mental crops. You don’t need to pick something terribly ambitious and time-consuming (i.e., if starting Mandarin classes or taking up CrossFit doesn’t seem super appealing, don’t force it). You just need to think about something that isn’t your job for a few hours a week, whether it’s a book club or a yoga class or a fantasy sports league.
- Change your surroundings.
Routine can help you be more productive … until it doesn’t. If you’re getting tired of the same ol’, same ol’, it might be time to shake things up. Ask your boss if you can work from home now and then or tweak your schedule so that you miss the hairiest part of your commute. If you have an office job and a laptop, work from a conference room for an afternoon, maybe with teammates if you’re heads-down on a project. Anything to let the air into your day.
- Connect with an old friend.
When we talk about looking up old friends in career blogs, the context is usually, “…so you can ask them for a job later.” But that’s not the only reason to keep in touch with your old coworkers, neighbors, and pals.
If you spend every day with the same people, you get the same perspectives on everything, whether it’s work problems or political situations or business ideas. Reconnecting with an old friend potentially offers another point of view. In any case, you’ll get insight from someone who’s known you for a long time, and that’s always valuable.
- Read a book.
If you spend your whole day staring at screens of one kind or another, it can feel like you’re doing plenty of reading, but all the news items and blog posts and social media feeds in the world don’t add up to the value of an actual book.
- Go out into nature.
Speaking of reducing stress levels, going outside can help you do just that. One study even found that just being able to see some trees from your office window can help reduce stress and improve job satisfaction, but for best results (and maximum inspiration) you’ll probably want to go outdoors and soak up some sun.
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