When we are bored or unhappy at work, how do we change it up without jeopardizing our career?
Even when you love your job and are fully engaged in your career, life and deadlines at work can get in the way. Nothing keeps us from being our best, most productive selves in our jobs more than being disinterested, overwhelmed, or unchallenged. And, considering how much time we spend at work, being happy matters.
What’s the problem?
Even when we start our careers in a field in which we excel and a role we are passionate about, work can become a slog. Whether we’re overworked with unrelenting deadlines and an unforgiving schedule or we’re not feeling valued by leadership or co-workers, our careers can quickly become derailed by apathy and boredom. When you don’t feel empowered to take thoughtful risks or voice your opinions for fear of retribution or penalty, you can easily find yourself going through the motions. And most of us do, at some point in our careers.
It’s also common to outgrow the challenge—sometimes we’re afraid to admit that the spark or our creativity has faded because we can do our job with our eyes closed. This can be dangerous because staying sharp and building transferable skills are a necessity in an ever-evolving professional world where there is a war for versatile leaders and talent.
Whatever the reason, it’s essential to be honest with ourselves and to recognize there is an issue. Be OK sitting with it for a minute, but not so long that you let it fester into a distraction from your performance and future career prospects. Once you’re sure what you’re dealing with, it’s time to create a game plan.
How do we fix it?
Reach out for help. It’s important to nurture relationships with your networks, keeping in mind that productive work relationships should be mutually beneficial. It takes effort but reaching out regularly to co-workers or mentors to see how they are doing or if they need support or assistance can lead to them helping you in the future when and if you need it. It also keeps you on the radar for opportunities you may not have been in the running for.
Be patient, and display professional maturity. It is crucial to have active discussions with leadership and mentors about your career aspirations. Be proactive in managing your workload and understand how you are progressing with regard to your performance on a regular basis, not just during your semi-annual or annual review, when surprises can be derailing. Even if you’re an entrepreneur or consultant, it’s important to survey clients so you’re not blindsided.
Determine your career destiny. Don’t let your career happen to you. More often than not, if you are feeling stale in your position, others are probably noticing it as well, which could lead to role or responsibility shifts you may not be excited about. It could lead to performance issues. Be honest with yourself about where you are and where you want to go, and understand that there may be a need for a change. You may also find that moving on can open an opportunity for someone else who is eager to fill your shoes.
Don’t let risk create paralysis. We can be risk-averse to our own detriment. Taking calculated risks can lead to advancement and job satisfaction when it’s coupled with preparation and hard work.
Nothing keeps us from being our best, most productive selves in our jobs more than being disinterested, overwhelmed, or unchallenged. And, considering how much time we spend at work, being happy matters.
For more authentic leadership advice for women at work, go to Amita Mehta Possible.