You know the feeling: meh.
You go to your job every day, and just go through the motions. If you were in a movie, this would be the montage where the calendar pages fall off the wall in rapid succession.
If you’re feeling “meh” about work, it’s a good bet that your job is “good enough.” It’s not terrible, so you don’t absolutely have to look for something else. But it’s also not great, where you wake up every morning excited to face the day’s challenges.
Phoning it in at a “good enough” job is a tremendous missed opportunity. With the job market the way it is there’s never been a better time to get motivated, grab the initiative, and take steps to develop your “good enough” job into a great career.
Consider these four ways to make that happen:
It can be easy to feel in a rut performing the daily tasks associated with any job. But even though certain requirements aren’t going away, you still have the ability to be proactive and entrepreneurial about what your responsibilities actually include.
Don’t feel hemmed in by your job description. There’s room to color outside the lines. Visualize your ideal landing spot in terms of title and responsibility, and work backwards from there. Ask for more work. Take charge on an initiative that you think would improve things.
Working on a pet project can position you for greater success and visibility and change the way you’re viewed, which can lead to more interesting projects.
One hidden benefit of having a project you’re actually looking forward to: you’ll become much more efficient at your regular daily tasks. Instead of being a nuisance, these lower-level responsibilities become a problem to solve: How can you streamline them to move on to something you really want to be doing?
Company culture is another common source of the workplace “blahs.” It’s easy to fall into a dull routine when you don’t feel energized by your peers and managers.
With the job market the way it is, smart companies are more concerned about employee retention than ever. So maintaining a positive workplace culture should be as important to them as it is to you. Leading the charge on improvements to the overall atmosphere at your job is a great initiative to take on.
And the best part? Taking a more active hand in bettering your workplace culture can make life easier for your coworkers too.
Reach out to your managers for advice and encouragement. They should be receptive, and may even provide you with a budget if you’re convincing enough.
What if you offer to take charge of new initiatives, and your managers aren’t supportive?
While it’s frustrating to be told to “stay in your lane” by those with the power to improve your circumstances, you can’t control how other people react to your suggestions. But you do have control over your own attitude.
Cultivate a growth mindset. When you’re already thinking like a manager, you’ll be less likely to find yourself frustrated by what your actual manager does or says.
Try to stay positive. If keeping a positive mindset is an uphill battle, it’s possible, and even good, to blow off steam while having a little fun at work. If the pressure is so severe that fun seems out of the question, try a few workplace Zen tricks to reduce stress.
You can also solve the workplace “blahs” by pursuing your interests a little more actively outside of work. Take up a hobby or commit to an exercise program, and the joy you feel from that outlet can impact how you feel during your working hours.
Don’t neglect the “life” side of your work/life balance.
Whenever you feel stuck, remember you have a great opportunity to take the next step. All you have to do is give yourself permission.
The current job market is favorable for employees. If you’re feeling “meh” about your job, make it clear to your supervisors that you need more than you’re getting.
Any manager would be foolish to deny you the chance to spread your wings, develop your responsibilities and increase your contributions. But if you find that’s the case, don’t forget that better options may be out there.