With love in the air, it’s a good time to consider how to reignite the fire — for your design career. If you’ve been asked to put in longer hours, take on additional projects, manage with limited resources, or to keep up with new business demands, there’s a good chance you may have lost that “lovin’ feeling” for your job. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to restore lost enthusiasm for your work. Following are seven tips along with action items to bring back those warm fuzzies:
1. Appreciate What You Have.
Instead of focusing solely on what you don’t have — a higher salary, for example — consider what you do have. A great manager, challenging projects or a flexible schedule are just a few things that can make work enjoyable. And, perhaps most obvious, having a full-time position or a steady stream of clients also is something to appreciate.
- Action item: Keep a list of one thing you’re thankful for every day in your job, whether it’s a co-worker who brings you a latte or a cool client project. This not only will help you feel better about your job, but the information also could help guide your career to work that’s most satisfying.
2. Do More of the Things You Like.
If you love using Final Cut Pro, seek out projects that allow you to use that software. Also, expand your area of expertise by taking on tasks outside your typical realm of responsibility. New challenges can reignite interest in your position or alert you to areas where you have a hidden passion.
- Action item: Meet with your manager and let him or her know you’d like to take on more projects that touch upon your areas of interest. Also, look for opportunities outside your job, such as with a professional association or nonprofit organization.
3. Do Less of the Things You Don’t Like.
Everyone has an assignment — or two — that they simply dislike. For you, it might be taking notes at weekly team meetings. In these situations, consider if there is an alternate arrangement you might be able to suggest to your manager. You don’t want to shirk your duties or delegate only the most unappealing aspects of your job to others, but there may be instances where someone else is excited by an assignment that doesn’t quite light your fire.
- Action item: Come up with viable alternatives before meeting with your boss. For example, would it be possible for a junior designer to take notes at team meetings instead? Doing so might help the person learn the ins and outs of the department.
4. Be Realistic.
There will always be parts of your job that are less exciting than others. No job is completely free of the mundane. Consider astronauts. (Really!) The thing they probably enjoy most—traveling in space—is actually a small component of their jobs, especially given the large amount of training they must undergo.
- Action item: Consider how each task, no matter how mundane, makes the next one possible. Understanding that the parts of your work you find dull (two-hour planning meetings) often set the stage for the aspects you enjoy (designing a new website), will help you better appreciate all facets of your work.
5. Find the Significance in Your Work.
When you’re focused on the minutiae of your day-to-day job, it’s easy to forget about the big picture. Take time to remind yourself of your larger contributions to your firm. Were you part of a team that created an award-winning social media campaign? Remembering and taking pride in your contributions can increase your sense of personal satisfaction.
- Action item: Keep a log of the accomplishments you’re most proud. This list not only will remind you of the good work you do but also may come in handy the next time you meet with your boss about your performance or to discuss a raise or promotion.
6. Always Do Your Best.
Top performers are able to excel no matter how they feel about a particular task. Taking pride in the quality of your work can help build enthusiasm for your job and the work you produce. And being known as someone who always turns in top-notch work can enhance your professional reputation.
- Action item: The next time you’re assigned a task that you’re less than excited about, try to view it as an opportunity rather than something you simply need to cross of your long list of to-dos. For example, if you’re unenthusiastic about designing an invite for your firm’s all-hands meeting, consider that you might be able to flex more creative muscle than if you were working on the same project for an external client.
7. Take a Break.
It’s hard to be passionate about anything if you’re burned out. That’s why it’s important to get away from the office on occasion, if possible. You may find you’re more engaged when you return.
- Action item: Even if you can’t afford to take an extended break, a long weekend or a day off in the middle of the week could help you recharge.
Keep in mind that there is a difference between feeling less excited about your job than in the past and absolutely dreading going to the office each day. If it’s a struggle to get up and go to work, a change of scenery may be the best course of action. Although the job market is still far from robust, consider whether trying to find a new position is the best way to regain your love for your career.