February for me is about Super Bowl Sunday, a month and a half left of winter (give or take a week if you go by the groundhog) and Valentine’s Day; and not in that particular order although my wife would disagree.
A dozen roses… check.
A heart-shaped box filled with chocolates… check.
Dinner reservations… check.
Many of us will take the opportunity which Valentine’s Day brings to keep the flames of love burning or rekindle the sparks in a long-term relationship. It isn’t easy to maintain the exhilaration of a new romance over time. The same can be said about our job.
Most colleagues and friends who ask for my help in finding new opportunities cite a lack of fulfillment with their current position. Responsibilities which were once exciting to the point of looking forward to Monday mornings is now a boring, turtle paced countdown to the weekend. In a nutshell, they’ve lost that loving feeling.
If you’re in this rut, don’t divorce your employer just yet. Here are 14 ways to turn on your love light at work and fall back in love with your job:
Sometimes we try to solve problems alone when what we really need to do is ask the help of others. Begin by reaching out to your manager. Happiness at work is usually attributed to the quality of relationship one has with their boss. Besides, you’ll be doing them a favor; it is part of their job to foster an environment where employees prosper.
2. Circle Of Trust
Talking to your manager isn’t always optimal, especially if they’re the source of your workplace angst. Reach out to trusted colleagues and mentors. They often see things we don’t and provide us with the candid straight talk we need to hear.
3. Is Work The Real Problem?
Is the real problem you’re experiencing at work or is it perhaps in your personal life? I often make the mistake of bringing my work home with me. It can negatively impact my relationship with my wife and children. Similarly, bringing family strife to work can be destructive. Before making any rash decisions about handing in your resignation letter, be clear about what and where the issue lies.
4. "El Que no Llora, No Mama"
My abuelita’s lesson translates to: if you don’t ask, you don’t get. We manage our careers as much as our bosses do (if not more so). If you feel your career has hit a brick wall and would like new challenges, then speak up! A senior manager at ESPN often complains that the first time he hears from upset employees who are leaving for jobs with more responsibility is during their exit interview when it’s too late to do anything about it.
5. Don’t Eat Lunch At Your Desk
If you’re like me, you have lunch at your desk more often than you should in order to continue working. Try changing that bad habit! The assignment can wait 30 minutes to an hour. Taking the time to have a meal with co-workers in the lunchroom gives you a much needed mental break, change of scenery, and helps nurture relationships.
6. Workspace Harmony
Not all of us have the luxury of a spacious corner office with spectacular views, but we can spruce up our workspace. I’m not going to go all feng shui on you, but think about surrounding yourself with objects that put you in a good mood. I keep pictures of family trips and gifts from my children on my desk, which instantly transports me to special moments when work becomes stressful.
7. Company Benefits
I went shopping for a new car recently, and a sales rep at one of the auto dealerships told me that I get a discount as a Disney employee (ESPN is part of the Walt Disney Company). I was like: "Whah the whah?!" Many companies offer employees perks like discounts on purchases, health club memberships, career training and tuition reimbursement. How well do you know and/or take advantage of the benefits offered by your company?
8. The Balcony View
Sometimes a different perspective is all we need. We forget what it was like those first couple of weeks on the job when even finding the restroom was a stretch assignment. The tasks which were once new have become monotonous. The problem may be that you just can’t see the opportunities from the dance floor. Try getting on the figurative balcony in order to consider new processes, think more creatively and let go of biases.
9. A Cubicle Away
Sometimes we get tunnel vision about our jobs and just focus on what we are responsible for, but help might be just a cubicle away. Try spending time with colleagues from different departments who you partner with on projects. Getting their point of view on changes you should consider to improve workflow might be refreshing.
10. Become a mentor
There’s nothing like meeting a newbie at the office to remind you how excited you were when you first joined the team. Think about becoming a mentor to people who can benefit from a workplace buddy; a person who understands who’s who and what’s what. The reciprocal relationship benefits from your institutional knowledge and their fresh ideas.
11. Passion Projects
Occasionally, the path to a new career begins with a passion project. I’ve always been involved with organizations which champion the fair treatment and representation of Latinos in media, but it wasn’t until I served as president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) that I started to invest more of my free time in Diversity and Inclusion. The experience provided me with a new mindset at work and a new rewarding pipeline to express myself in the marketplace. Now, I travel the country as a consultant on how diversity drives innovation, guest speaker on the benefits of inclusion, and author on career development.
12. "Dime con quién andas, y te diré quién eres."
I grew up in a tough neighborhood. Mi Mama would often warn me to be choosy about the kids I hung out with; worried that I’d get in with the wrong crowd. The same applies to who you choose to associate with at work. 'Dime con quien andas y te diré quién eres' translates to 'tell me who you spend time with and I will tell you who you are.' Perhaps the source of your troubles at work have to do with the people you’re spending time with. Are you surrounding yourself with colleagues who are energizing or the Debbie Downers who always see the glass half empty?
13. Don’t Let Your Job Define You
Work is such a large part of our lives that it is practically impossible to disassociate our personal lives from our professional ones. Like any good investment, it is never a good idea to put all of your eggs in one basket. Whether it’s your family, volunteering, a hobby or whatever; be sure to find something which completes you. I always advise young people who tell me that they don’t have time for a personal life because they’re ferociously pursuing their career to consider what they would share at a class reunion. If all you have to talk about is your job to a group of people you haven’t seen in 5, 10, 20 years, then you’re not living.
Most people who talk to me about leaving their job don’t say it’s because they don’t feel well compensated. Our jobs shouldn’t only provide us with basic needs like food and shelter; they must fulfill other needs like respect and appreciation. If work for you is all about the Benjamins, then maybe it is time to rethink your priorities.
Hugo Balta is the Senior Director of Hispanic Initiatives at ESPN; his work focuses on collaborative projects across platforms and networks focused on best serving U.S. Hispanics. More articles like these on Straight Talk.