If work isn't quite what you expected, or if routine and responsibility never let up, what was initially a romance can turn into a mystery--where'd the fun and passion go? Odds are, it didn't disappear. You just need to find a little fresh perspective. These are some great options for doing just that.
1. Learn something new.
I'm not talking memorize Encyclopedia Britannica Online here. I mean simple, practical facts or methods that will affect your work directly and address your specific weaknesses. For example, maybe there's a better way to organize your email, or maybe you could learn the history of where Supply X comes from. This type of learning ups your efficiency and lets you see the bigger picture of what the business is doing. It can also be a jumping off point for a shift in focus, such as a graphic designer moving from publishing to public relations.
2. Mentor or be a mentee.
When you mentor someone, you get to work with someone who (typically) is eager to understand and make a difference. That eagerness can be contagious. Knowing that someone is looking to you for guidance can stimulate a profound sense of purpose, too. As your mentee asks questions and gets information from you, they'll likely prompt you to think about your work in ways you haven't before, even if they don't mean to do so. If you are the mentee, the excitement and insight your mentor has can re-energize you in much the same way.
3. Take a break.
The old saying "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" is just as applicable to work as it is interpersonal relationships. Sometimes the real problem is that work is keeping you from enjoying other things and wearing you out, leading you to resent it every time you clock in. Take your vacation time to sort things out and mentally refresh, or better yet, go on a sabbatical. And pssst. Delegation is a wonderful thing when you can't get away and are overwhelmed, too.
4. Talk to your boss or coworkers about decisions.
Maybe you can't be the person who signs off on everything. But you can have a frank discussion with your superior or team members about what you'd like to have a shot at directing. The chance to make a few more calls or types of choices can leave you feeling more empowered, and you'll likely stay more engaged from the positive challenge. If there's nothing you really can be completely in charge of, you still can explore how you can give more of your opinions professionally and help with the decision-making process.
5. Reconnect to your values.
People usually are happiest when they are doing work that aligns with their core principles--elements like honesty, for example. The trouble is, over time, it's easy to focus less and less on these central beliefs and more on the black and white of the agenda. Take some time to think about what you truly view as important. Those beliefs likely will pop up as themes through some of your most positive memories. Then look at your work and find the points where what you're doing honors those core concepts for you.
There's nothing wrong with packing up your desk and heading out if you're consistently unhappy at your job for a significant period of time. But if all you need is a little spark to get your fires burning again, try these strategies first. You might find you're already at the job you'll love (again) for years to come.