Burnout is something that almost everyone has to deal with in their career from time to time. In a recent poll by Gallup, twenty-three percent of employees said they felt burned out more often than not. An additional forty-four percent stated feeling burned out some of the time. This can lead many to dislike jobs they once loved.
The good news is that there are ways to overcome burnout and love any job. Here are our 10 ways to find more joy out of your job:
1. Side Project
Having a secret side-hustle can work wonders for your mood and motivation. Whether it’s starting your own business, or simply learning a new skill, having a side project can help get you out of any rut. Even if it’s just an hour a week, choose something to work on and turn it into your project. For example, you could give yourself 6 months to learn how to code or start a shop on Etsy making something. Having a side project can be a valuable way to diversify your skills. A side project you’re passionate about can do wonders for relieving burnout and it could even turn into some extra money or a full-time job if you wanted it too. Having something different or enjoyable to work on can make a huge difference in your confidence and energy.
2. Set Goals
You can learn and grow from any job. The best way to actively grow is to measure it. Tracking goals from month to month helps you see your progress – the things that get lost in the day-to-day, but when looked at over a broader time span, are huge. Setting goals, seeing your progress over time, and seeing how far you’ve come can help you whenever you’re feeling discouraged in the day to day. Having a specific goal to hit also gives you something to work towards that keeps you motivated.
Start a spreadsheet or a checklist. When you do something well, write it down. When you figure something out, record what you learned. Don’t just work to someone else’s benchmarks. Work towards your own too. This is a great tool for keeping yourself engaged. Always ask yourself questions about how you could challenge yourself in your role. Anything from “I want to finish this project a day early” to “How many leads can I get through in the next twenty minutes?” can be helpful.
Remember the bigger picture, you are learning from your job and although you’re not yet the Marketing Manager you want to be, you’re taking important steps on your journey towards where you ultimately want to end up. What skills are you gaining that relate to the bigger picture? Rather than getting restless, focus on capitalizing on what’s important to you.
3. Take Charge of Your Own Professional Development
Related to our last point, take charge of your own growth by investing in your personal and professional development. Develop a plan and goals for your career, then pursue them.
To help do this, ask for specific and meaningful help from your boss. Look for assignments that will help you achieve career milestones or learn specific skills. Pursue opportunities and connections that you find valuable, even if you have to do it on your own.
When you feel in control of your career and can see yourself improving and growing, you are more likely to feel satisfied in your current position. Your work is helping you grow. No matter what you’re doing, you’re learning – from your bosses, your coworkers, the details of your day-to-day responsibilities, the new situations you’re being thrust into, and the problems you have to solve. This learning is making you more valuable. It’s setting you up for future, better opportunities. It makes you more proficient in the work you’re doing right now. This growth is easy to lose in the day-to-day life – maintaining an awareness of it is very important.
4. Hang Out With Positive Coworkers
Nothing will impact your job satisfaction and make you weary faster than hanging out with people who are overly negative. Why spend your time with people or groups that you know will only make you feel worse about yourself or your job?
Try to find a best friend at work. Someone who always puts a smile on your face and might even help motivate you. Those who reported having strong friendships at work, whether or not those friendships carried over into their outside lives, were more likely to be happy and motivated at work.
Employees spend a lot of time at work; enjoying the coworkers that you spend time with there is one of the hallmarks of a positive work experience. Feeling understood and valued by even one coworker, especially if that’s someone you interact with regularly, can significantly increase your daily happiness at work.
5. Find Joy in the Day-to-Day Process
The day-to-day reality of most jobs may not always be exciting. There will always be tasks and things to do that feel like hard work. No matter how mundane your job might feel, enjoy the rhythm of your work.
A lot of life is about settling into a flow. Even when you’re working your dream job, there will be some monotony – very similar types of emails to respond to again and again, or detailed work that requires painstaking focus.
When confronted with this type of work, you have two options. Option one is to resent it, wish for it to be over, get restless. You know the feeling – barely able to focus, desperate to jump out of your seat and go do something. It’s not fun. Option two is to settle into the rhythm of it, and take pleasure in the process. Boring tasks become pleasant when you enjoy not the task itself, but the rhythm of doing it.
6. Take Responsibility
In your job it’s important to take responsibility. What could you take on to make things better at work? How could you lead the charge towards a more fun working environment, or a more efficient email system, or a flexible working policy?
If you’re feeling unfulfilled and unhappy in your career, mustering the motivation to take the lead on something probably isn’t going to feel like the obvious and enjoyable thing to do. But if it matters to you, then it’s up to you to change it. And if it matters to you, it probably matters to other people, too.
Your day-to-day isn’t about your employer. It’s about yourself. Don’t do what you’re doing just because it’s required. Do it because you want to do it, because it’s your job and you take responsibility for doing it well. Do it like there was no one watching and you were just here because you wanted to be here.
When you take ownership of your work, you find you enjoy the process far more than you do when you do it solely out of obligation.
7. Only Make Commitments You Can Keep
One of the most serious causes of work stress and unhappiness is failing to keep commitments.
To manage stress levels and minimize unhappiness at work, create a system for tracking your commitments and managing your schedule. Stay organized enough that you can judge quickly and accurately whether you are actually able to commit to a request or a new assignment. Don’t volunteer for additional work or office tasks if you don’t have time. If you feel like you are overwhelmed, always communicate with your boss. Communication will help your boss know what you’re working on, what you can and can’t take on, and if you need help prioritizing your tasks, communicating with your boss can be a great way to do that.
If your workload is regularly exceeding your available time and energy, don’t accept the unhappy status quo.Talk to your coworkers to see if anyone else is feeling the same way, then talk to your boss about how the company can provide the additional time, help, or resources that employees need.
8. Shift Your Focus
“What you focus on, grows.” Here’s the thing: the more convinced you are of the idea that your situation is awful, the more you’ll find evidence to back it up.
“See? They’re making me do all the name tags for the event. Menial work. They have no appreciation for my skills.”
Your life becomes a day-to-day exercise in proving yourself right. And this is what the inside of your head starts to sound like because of where your gaze is fixed. What you focus on, grows.
Maybe you do have to print and cut up three hundred name tags this afternoon, and you get to do it with a colleague you don’t know that well. It’s a boring task that doesn’t use your best skills, but it’s a great chance to get to know someone new and give your brain a break. It’s a matter of focusing on the positive and being grateful for as much as possible.
9. Do Something That You Love Every Day
Nothing increases job satisfaction like doing something that you love to do every day.
Discover small things about your job that make you happy. Make sure that these activities or tasks are on your agenda every day. Hard-pressed to find something that you love to do at work? Make sure you combat that weary feeling with an external activity to balance this lack.
What are the things that excite you? If you enjoy being the go-to person for advice, it doesn’t mean you have to quit your job and become a therapist, it means you should include that talent in your day-to-day, and if you get joy out of being that go-to person, seek out co-workers that may need help. Not only will you get the joy of helping them, they’ll be happier for it too.
10. Remember Why You Started In the First Place
Motivation can sometimes feel like a roller coaster, but your ability to push through the discomfort of staying is only as strong as your reasons to do it. What brought you to this job in the first place? When you enjoyed it, what were you doing differently? This trip down memory lane creates awareness. It allows you to see what works and what doesn’t work. Equally important, it allows you to see the difference between where you are and where you’d like to be.
Not all of these strategies are going to be the right course of action for you.
However, you can choose one or two to experiment with over the next month or two. Throw yourself into the process of exploring – what eases the stress and the boredom? Is it possible you could not just survive, but thrive at work?
You matter. Your well-being matters. Your ability to feel strong and grounded and forward-facing as you move toward fulfilling work, matters.
You don’t need to always love your job, but it shouldn’t make you miserable on a regular basis. If creating any happiness at work feels impossible, you may be stuck in a toxic work culture or a job that simply may not be a good fit for you. In that case, it may be time to reevaluate your employer, your job, or your entire career path. Even if you have to remain in your current position for a while longer, actively searching for a new job that is more in line with your professional interests and personal values may be the best thing you can do to gain a sense of control and put a smile on your face.