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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

The Best Way to Recapture How Excited You Felt When You Started Your Job

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When you landed this job, you were thrilled—schedule a celebratory dinner, call your entire family, shout it from the rooftops thrilled.

But after months (or years), it feels like a grind. You post a different #TGIF meme every week and you’re familiar with the Sunday scaries.

To be clear: You’re not miserable, or ready to throw in the towel and look for a new role. It’s not like you’re asked to meet impossible goals or dread reporting to your boss.

It’s just that your work has lost its luster, and you’re not excited about your job anymore.

Translation: You’re stuck in a rut.

And the classic advice: “Talk to your boss,” “work on a project on a different team,” “make new work friends,” can feel unrealistic when your plate’s pretty jam-packed as is.

The trick to making this advice work is to shift your mindset.

To recapture that feeling when you were starting at your company—pretend you’re new once again. Back then, you were introducing yourself to new people, asking lots of questions, and inquiring how different teams worked together to advance the mission (so I know you can do it).

In other words, it’s an expectation game. When you were pushing yourself to stretch out of your comfort zone and do new things, you did. But now, you’re probably pressuring yourself to be as productive as possible; and making time to connect with new colleagues, research a pet project, or learn a new skill fall into the category of things you keep pushing off until you have time.

So, look at your upcoming task list, and ask yourself a lot of the questions you would if you were new:

  • Is there someone on my team who knows even more about [this] than I do? Yes? Send them an email or set up a time for a short chat!
  • Am I advanced at every skill I need to do my job? No? Ask your boss about time (and budget) for taking a course to grow your expertise.
  • Is the way [this] has always been done the best way? Unsure? Research a new process to improve it.
  • Will I need to work with someone from another department to complete [this]? Yes? Along with asking project-related questions, ask them about their job and department.
  • Do I actually know my colleagues? No? Join an upcoming social event or ask someone you don’t know well to meet for coffee.
  • Is there anything I could do outside of work that’ll help me? Unsure? Consider a relevant book you could read, person you could network with, or lecture you could attend.

Not quite sure how you’ll fit all this in? First, remember that you don’t have to ask and answer all of these questions, all the time. Second, you can set aside time to make this possible—say Friday afternoons so that you always end the week on a good note. (Unsure how to make that a reality? Follow this plan to get five days of work done in four, so you’ll have time on Friday to pursue these activities.)

If you haven’t quite figured out how to mix up your routine, acting like you did when you were first hired can help your job feel new again. Only this time around it’ll be even better, because you know the best way to ask your boss a question and how to work the coffee pot.

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