At some point in your career, you'll find yourself disengaged -- we all do. For most, it's not because there is anything drastically wrong, but because work isn't fun anymore.
It doesn't happen overnight. In fact, it usually occurs as you become more successful and familiar with your role. You find out what works, develop a system and reputation, and stick to the correlated trajectory. But if we're all being honest, familiarity isn't exciting. As human beings, we often crave progress and challenging work and once something stops being intellectually stimulating, we get restless.
Feelings of restlessness are scary. We wake up one day complacent, bored and unfulfilled, and the only option in sight is to jump ship. In my ten-year recruiting career, I've seen more people leave for additional opportunities than I have for money or their managers.
It's unfortunate because opportunities are all around you if you take the initiative. Unfortunately, most don't and rely on their managers or organizations to continually generate new work and projects.
When I think back to some of the most exciting and challenging times in my career I realized that many of them fell around recent job changes. I think there are a few nuggets in that idea. To consistently stay engaged at work, you should have a new employee mindset.
Let me explain.
Part of my role as a talent management specialist is new employee onboarding. Onboarding is a systematic way of welcoming and assimilating team members to ensure they have a positive experience, learn, and are productive. I meet every new employee that joins the company, and for the most part, they are all eager and enthusiastic about the future. Which doesn't make sense. If you think about it, starting a new job should be the opposite; stressful and nerve-racking. It's uncharted territory and takes most completely out of their element. But here's why it works and why new employees have that spark:
1. They are okay with being vulnerable.
Everything about a new job is a risk. You're in a new environment, taking on new work, and meeting new people. No one knows who you are or what you can do. The longer you're with an organization, though, things slowly start to change. As we build tenure, we tend to venture less, stay in our lanes, and stick to what we know. Taking risks and stepping outside our comfort zone isn't necessary so we avoid it. As a result, complacency sets in.
Fight the urge and make a conscious effort to put yourself out there, be spontaneous, and take risks. Join a steering committee, meet new people, take on projects outside your normal scope, and force yourself to learn something new.
2. They are humble.
Pride can be a dangerous thing. It clouds our judgment, creates blind spots, and even prevents learning. If it's not kept in check, this inflated sense of self, egotism, and conceit can be career-limiting (you can't help those who won't help themselves.)
New employees, for the most part, come in with the self-awareness that they are there to serve and learn. They don't think certain tasks or responsibilities are below them, and they willingly put in the work and accept feedback on their performance.
The process creates a powerful formula for development. Experiment and be teachable, and you will surely progress.
3. They choose positivity.
Unfortunately, most don't. Misery likes company, and it's easy to fall into negative, work-bashing habits. This gloomy, pessimistic outlook not only makes work (and you) unbearable at times, but also evolves into a condition known as a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset closes you off to possibilities and new opportunities and makes you believe that you're stuck with what you got.
A growth mindset, on the other hand, suggests that intelligence and talent can be cultivated over time. As a result of this more optimistic viewpoint, new opportunities are embraced as a way to learn and grow--and you always do.
Work is a rollercoaster. At times our engagement will dip, but that doesn't mean you need to find a new ride. Instead, continually think like a new employee and you'll add new hills to climb.