Q: I'm well-established in my field and am considered to be a solid performer in a financially secure company. I used to love what I do. But now I'm bored. What should I do?
A: Take steps to bring more freshness back to your work.
The inner game
Look for the things that light you up. Think broadly, and let yourself feel the effect of the day-to-day experiences that give you the most energy. Relax, breathe and savor those aspects of your life. Your goal will be to bring this feeling more actively into your routine.
Go back to your roots. In college, what classes and subjects were most interesting, and what did you like about them? Remember the exhilaration when you found your career and were in your first job? Think about why it was a good fit for you.
Walk through the progression of your professional life. Focus on the opportunities that have been most energizing. Also notice when the luster started to fade and perhaps you began to feel more jaded. Try to diagnose any particular aspects that caused the appeal of your job to fade.
Look around your company and your team. Is the malaise more general, or does it really appear to be more personal? Identify people who bring more zest to their work; their enthusiasm may be contagious.
Look more broadly at your life, too, noticing whether this same general feeling is affecting you in your hobbies and relationships. If so, consider a visit to your doctor to rule out any health problems.
The outer game
There are many ways to refresh your routine. The first step is to commit to making changes. For many, this is the hardest step. If this is the case for you, spend some time thinking about what is holding you back. Time or money? It's all about priorities, so compare the value of greater inspiration to whatever you'd have to give up.
It can be hard to get started when you're in a rut, so here are some ideas.
• Learn something new. Find a conference on an innovation in your field, and actively apply the new information in your job.
• Give back. Mentor a young professional in your field or get involved with your local professional group. You could also volunteer your skills for a nonprofit so that it can gain the advantage of your expertise.
• Get hands-on. At your level, you may simply have gotten too far away from the actual work. You may enjoy getting involved in a project and rolling up your sleeves.
In everything you do, start paying closer attention. One reason for boredom may be that you're on autopilot. If you actively think about each step you're taking, you're likely to get re-engaged. Take the time to challenge your assumptions and to shake up the status quo. You may have been doing the same thing in the same way for 20 years. Now's the time to ask yourself "why" and look for new approaches.
The last word
It takes effort to shake up your routine, but it could be just what you need to have fun at work.
What challenges do you face at work? Send your questions to Liz Reyer, a credentialed coach and president of Reyer Coaching & Consulting in Eagan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.