One of the most soul-destroying things is turning up for a job every day when you outgrew it some time ago, but need to stick with it so that you can make the money that pays the rent or mortgage. Time drags, you feel exhausted, and the whole thing can feel pointless.
You might tell yourself that this is okay for you. But is it really? On the one hand, life’s too short to be miserable for a considerable chunk of it. On the other, if you let your disengagement run, you take the risk of under-performing at a time when your career – and your employer – need you to be working well.
So much of re-engaging, even if you’d rather not, comes down to breathing some positive energy into yourself. Here are five ideas to help kick-start your enthusiasm:
- Choose What This Time Will Mean. If you allow it, the current scenario can seem both endless and meaningless. But you can take back some power by deciding what this time will mean for you. For some it might be about making sure you stay in a good financial place; for others it could be about developing some quality or skill in yourself. Find the positive opportunity and go after it.
- Avoid the news. If you watch too much news at the moment, you’d be forgiven for feeling beyond depressed. It can have the effect of taking us beyond our sphere of influence to things that are black, but which we can do little to influence. Maintain a healthy curiosity in what’s going on by all means, but make sure your focus stays on the things in your life and work that you can control.
- Set short term goals for yourself. When one week merges into the next, it’s easy to feel that you’re not achieving much. You can give yourself another experience by becoming ruthless about setting yourself weekly and daily goals. Things you’ve been putting off? Things you’d really rather not? Get them on the list and confront them. Then watch your spirits grow as you tick off each item.
- Lean on your professional networks. Connect with some of your peers on- or offline and see how things are going for them. Reaching out beyond yourself and your current role can be both normalizing and inspiring.
- Invest in life. If work at the office is tedious, help yourself to keep your energy bank topped up by making sure you have good things to engage with in other parts of your life: your partner, family, friends and hobbies. And manage your work/life boundaries too. You might think you should struggle into the office even if you’re ill, or sit there into the wee hours in case a client calls. But you’re almost certainly doing yourself more long term harm than good in the process. Don’t neglect your self care in tough times. At the end of the day, you are all that you have.
These are five things that work for me and for folks I work with. How about you? What stands out from this list? And what haven’t I thought of that you’d add?