Ask LH: How Can I Learn To Take More Pleasure In My Job?

Dear Lifehacker, I like my job. I really do. My coworkers are great people, my manager understands me, and I get to do what I'm great at and like doing every day. Even so, it's a struggle to get up every morning and go to the same office and do the same things every day.Coming back after weekends are the worst. I know it's called "work" for a reason, but how can I take a little more pleasure in it? How can I wake up every morning feeling invigorated and ready to tackle the day? Signed, Lost the Spark

Photo by Dmitriy Shironosov/Shutterstock.

Dear Lost the Spark,

What you're facing is completely normal. Even those of us who are lucky enough to do what we love every day have bad days and bad weeks, where even though we love our work it still sucks to drag yourself out of bed to go do it. That doesn't mean you have to live with that feeling though. There are some great ways to re-ignite that fire that will inspire you to give every day your very best, and help you fall in love with your job all over again — not that it seems too difficult, as you said you already enjoy what you do.

Take Stock and Make the Case to Yourself

It sounds like you have a lot of good things going for you, and that you realise that. Your coworkers are people you enjoy working with, you do work that you enjoy and that you're good at doing, and all of those things are more than many people can ask for. Make a list of the things about your job that you love — things like your great coworkers, understanding manager and the work that you do. If you like your workspace or have the freedom to work from home occasionally, jot that down as well. Then, make a similar list of the things you dislike about your job, whether it's the commute, outdated equipment at the office, the fact that you have to get up earlier than you'd like, or whatever may be getting you down.

The reason for this is two-fold. First, the process of making the list of good things will help you remember all of the great things about your job, or at least remind you that there are more than you may think about on a day to day basis. Second, by writing down the things you dislike, you may stumble on the thing that's got you down or depressed, and with luck, you can work out how to resolve it. If it's the commute that's bothering you, or the time you have to get up, maybe you can work out a different shift, change your schedule so you can arrive later and miss the traffic, or hunt down a great podcast or some other activity that will make your commute more bearable. If the list of things you dislike is short, you can hold it up against the list of positives and remind yourself that things really aren't that bad. It may not help the humdrum of getting up early every day, but it can offer some perspective.

Photo by Crystal.

Leave Yourself Reminders

Once you have your list of positives, don't just toss it in a drawer and forget about it — take some of the things you really like, jot them down on post-it notes, and put them somewhere in your cubicle or around your desk where you'll see them. When your eyes cross over one, you'll feel better, or if you're feeling particularly unmotivated one day, spend some time looking around your desk and reminding yourself why you like it here. Also, as good things happen to you at work, make note of them and save them for future motivation.

You can keep a work diary to help you keep perspective, or even better, keep an Awesomeness Journal to boost your self-esteem and stay motivated when the chips are down or you just don't feel like getting up in the morning. Whatever you do, it's important to give yourself regular reminders of why you enjoy your work, appreciate your job and have reason to be happy. The more accessible they are, the easier it will be to drag yourself out of your funk and get back to work.

Photo by Joelk75.

Take A Holiday To Recharge Your Batteries

When's the last time you had a day off or a full-fledged holiday? If you're like most people, you have a lot of annual leave stored up, but it's never a good time to take a day off. Maybe you're starting to show the signs of burnout, or maybe you're having trouble leaving work behind and enjoying the rest of your life. Both situations are enough to make even the best job grate on your nerves.

Even if you're doing what you love, you have to have a balance where you're not doing it all the time, and you have an opportunity to recharge, come up with new ideas and return to your work refreshed and ready to move forward. Take some time off, perhaps even a week, and do something that's not work-related. Whether it's a getaway to a far off place or a stay-cation where you spend some time tending the garden and cleaning the house, some time off will let you clear your head and get away from parts of your routine that are bringing you down.

Photo by yeowatzup.

Get A Mentor/Be A Mentor

It's also possible that you're not tired or feeling down about your work, but that you're just bored. The same way we would suggest you maintain your work/life balance and find enriching things to do away from the office, you may also find an outlet for your creativity by mentoring someone else in the work that you do, or finding someone else who represents where you'd like to go career-wise and talking to them. In many cases, finding a mentor can do a lot to recharge your batteries, because you have someone who's been in your shoes and is currently where you'd like to be that you can pose this very same question to. Similarly, becoming a mentor to someone else can offer a sense of perspective of how far you've come, what you've learned, and how much you have to offer to other people who are coming into the ranks behind you. Even that can be enough inspiration to take the edge off.

Photo by nyuhuhuu.

Join A Professional Organisation/Society

In the same vein at mentoring or finding a mentor, joining a professional organisation of people who do what you do can give you a wealth of helpful resources. You'll make new friends, have the opportunity to network professionally, and be able to talk to people who struggle with the same challenges that you're working through, even personally. For example, I'm still a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and my local chapter often has dinners and meet-and-greets where we can get together, have a few drinks and talk over our recent endeavours. More often than not, the conversation tends to head towards the personal, always ending in encouragement and support. You're all in this together, and you'll find most members are more than happy to help each other.

Take Care Of Your Mental And Physical Health

One area that you shouldn't overlook here is your personal health. It may seem like the problem is with the job, that it's just lost its luster for you, but the problem may not be the job here, it could be you. You've mentioned that logically, everything is wonderful with your work and you should be happy. Well, happiness starts with you. Are you getting enough sleep every night? Perhaps you've let your workout regimen slip a bit and it's been a while since you've been to the gym. If you're losing sleep or gaining weight, you could just be feeling awful, and even the best job can't fix that.

Make sure to take care of yourself first. Make sure you're getting a good night's rest, and if you're not, read up on our best tricks to get better, more fulfilling sleep. If the conditions are right but you're still not resting, maybe technology can help you get a good night's sleep. Also, don't forget to exercise as well. Even a half-hour walk can make a huge difference in your physical and mental health. We can even help you fit a workout into your daily routine. Take care of yourself, and you may find it easier to take the same joy in your work that you used to. If you think you may be seriously depressed, you shouldn't hesitate to find someone to talk to about it, but if you're just a little down, you may be able to tackle the problems yourself with exercise, sleep, a proper diet and overall healthy behaviour.

Photo by Richard Riley.

We hope that these tricks help you re-ignite the fire that you used to find in your work, Lost the Spark, and that you manage to shake off these doldrums and find some joy in your job again. It sounds like you're lucky and have a job that most people would love to have, and we'd hate to see it slip away because of something that's easily fixed with a little inspiration, time and attention to your own needs. Good luck!

Cheers Lifehacker

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    Separate your home from your work life. It may seem like you should be trying to include your home life at work so that you can feel more comfortable and be doing things in alignment with the things you do at home, however all it does, for me at least, is make you wish you were there (at home) and not here (at work).

    By separating them, you can focus more on what you want to achieve in your work environment and less on what you are doing the work for (new car, house, next holiday etc). Remember when you first got this job, you were excited about the fresh and new opportunities available to you because you were focused on the moment of being at work. There was a separation between what you did at home and what you did at work.

    Whenever I need a "pick me up" at work, I rearrange my office. Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery.

    And if you can't because you're in a cubicle, buy a small desktop item related to what you love, or print out some photos. Because I'm a photography nerd, I went out and bought a coffee mug shaped like a macro lens and hung some of my art on the wall. Drinking out of a lens while staring at my favourite photos really made a difference.

    I'm like you - fantastic workers, great boss & manager, relaxed atmosphere, but sometimes you do still have that groundhog-day feeling about the working week.

    But I do find that I get more excited about my job if I learn something new.

    I used Adobe LiveCycle for the first time ever last week - I didn't need to be using this, but I toyed around with it in between other tasks. It got me pumped learning something new, and it helped me get through the mind-numbing tasks that needed to be done (and I can pretty much do on auto-pilot anyway).
    Also, when I learn a new coding technique I'd never used before, gets me excited about my job again.

    Find something that's in the scope of your job/ or related somewhat to it, and learn something new.

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