1. Focus on the parts you like. Yes, there are some; even the worst jobs have good parts. Make a list of all the things you like about your job. Look at that list every day and make an effort to do more of those things you enjoy or expose yourself to those situations that you like. For example, do you enjoy working with a particular person? Ask them if they need help on a project, or make a point to take a break with them. Volunteer for more tasks that involve doing the things you like to do. Be sure and tell your boss and colleagues about the tasks you enjoy – let your enthusiasm and interest show. And keep adding to the list as you discover more of what you enjoy. If you can spend more of your workday on things that you like to do, work will naturally be more satisfying.
4. Come up with an idea for a project or task that excites you. Write out a short proposal that outlines what you’ll do, the benefits and results of it, what resources you need, and how long it will take. Tell your boss you have an idea that will provide XX benefits to the team/company and want to get her advice and input on it. It’s crucial that you have some (ideally quantifiable) benefits that you can illustrate, and that you ask for your boss’s input as well. Get them involved and show your excitement. Sure, they can shoot you down, but at least you tried. Find out if there are tweaks you could make, other areas you could focus on or if it is just the timing that makes it non-feasible. Don’t let your boss’s negativity dampen your own enthusiasm.
7. Make external changes. First take a look at the easy stuff: your outside. Get a new haircut and invest in some classy new shoes or other accessories. Sharpen up your outer image and have fun while you’re doing it. If you’re female, consider stopping by one of those department store cosmetic counters and have them give you a new professional look. Learn a couple new make-up tips. I still remember the time that I changed my makeup and got comments like ”You look so great today!” People didn’t know what I had done (until I told them) but they certainly could tell there was a positive difference. A fresh change on the outside can temporarily boost your internal confidence and the positive feedback you may get will certainly help too.
8. Learn something new. Next take a look at your professional skill levels. Could they use some sharpening too? Talk to your boss about where you’d like to get some extra training and see if they agree that it would be beneficial. Ideally, your company will pay for some classes for you that may help you get certified or reconsidered for another position – one that may be more satisfying. Certainly adding certifications and other skills will make you a more desirable professional just about anywhere and lets people know that you aren’t lackadaisical about keeping up your professional development.
One exercise that can help you pivot that attitude is to set some easy, daily challenges for yourself. Plan them a week at a time and write them out, one each day, in your calendar. These small work-related goals will provide daily personal successes. At least some of them should focus on others. All of them should engage your interest. For example:
10. Get involved with outside associations and organizations. Make sure your personal life is rich, and that you are not too exhausted from your job that you neglect it. One of the best ways you can spend your off time is to join your professional association and get involved. When you are a regular volunteer, others get to know you and your work. You make contacts that can lead to new jobs. I do this at my local chapter of the American Society of Training and Development. Other regular volunteers and I have gotten interviews, new jobs, new clients, and more opportunities opening up simply because we are better connected than those who show up for a meeting once in a while. Check to see if your company will pay for your membership but even if they won’t, join on your own. Then find a committee or project to work on, or get on the board. You won’t regret it. You may find yourself receiving some recognition from others in your company if you do.
No matter what your work situation is (even if you are happy there!), you can expand your career potential by trying out these ten tips. I guarantee that by initiating your own “personal professional improvement campaign” that you will increase your level of enjoyment at work and eventually your career opportunities. Don’t allow yourself to become a victim of the workplace. Take control of your own attitude and actions and watch things change for the better.