back to school state of mind

You love your job and the company you work for, but you’ve reached a point where you’re struggling to stay motivated. It could be that you’ve become so accustomed to your day-to-day tasks that it’s no longer fun or enjoyable. You may have just been in the same position for long enough and nothing is a challenge anymore. You’re just plain bored. Whatever the reason is, you’ve reached a crossroads in your career. Do you junk years of work and dedication or do you try to find a way out of your slump? Before you make a choice that can be irreversible, take some time and consider the following steps to help you make a decision!

  • Make a list. Okay, yes, that’s advice that parents, friends, and even supervisors will give you a million times. But just because it’s a cliche doesn’t mean that it isn’t useful advice. Getting your thoughts down on paper can help you sort through the tangle of logic and emotion that comes from making potentially life-changing decisions. You can start your list however you like, but I usually like something pretty straightforward: on each side of the paper write a different word or phrase. Then, underneath each, I’ll write what that word or phrase makes me think of and compare both sides of the paper to find the middle ground like a Venn diagram. In this case, you want to make sure your list focuses on the task at hand: your career and what you need to do to breathe some fresh life into it. Try something easy like: What I Like About My Job versus What I Dislike About My Job. Even if it doesn’t provide you a map for going forward, you may end up writing down some things you didn’t even know you felt about your job. One thing a list like this can clarify for you is whether or not you really want to find a solution to your career slump or if you’ve just been waiting for a reason to move on.
  • Prioritize your concerns. So, you’ve made the list and it’s mostly legible (unless you’re like me and can’t decipher your handwriting; in that case, make things easier on yourself and type your list in a word processor). If you’ve decided that this career slump is just a bump in the road and not reason to resign, you should prioritize the things on your list that you feel are missing right now. For example, if you’ve written that you wish you had more autonomy, a better desk, and to be involved more with decision making at the company, what’s more important to you? Put the items you’ve written down on a separate list in order of importance. Or, you can assign numbers to each, whatever helps you organize your thoughts best. Then, you can get started addressing these issues one by one! It’s often less stressful to tackle one annoying problem or issue at a time.
  • Make it so. That sounds a lot simpler than it actually is. You need to decide what action you want to take. So, say in your list you’ve prioritized “having more autonomy” as the number one thing you’d like to see change in your career. How are you going to do that? Can you even do that in your current role? Depending on the relationship you have with your supervisor(s), you may be able to reach out to them for mentorship or even advice about the best way to move ahead in your company. Additionally, they may not be aware that you’re hoping to take on more responsibility at work; speaking with them about your career goals can make a huge impact. But if more action needs to be taken, they can recommend the best course to get you to where you want to be. They also may recommend you go back to school, pursue a certificate course, or complete a workshop. Not only can you learn more about a subject of interest, you’ll show others that you’re serious about taking on more responsibility in the office and, worst case scenario, furthering your education can be an excellent resume builder.

Once you’ve made a decision or started mapping out your career plans, it’s a bit easier to pull yourself out of a career slump. You’ve got something to be excited about again! Keep in mind that you may fall into another “slump” at some point. Honestly, getting bored with something you do every single day, no matter how enjoyable, is pretty normal! Just take a step back, maybe make a list or two, and go for what you want. You’ve got the power to be successful if you so choose and if you’re working at a great company, higher ups are going to want to support you and help you realize your goals.