Regardless of your profession or the amount of time you’ve spent in it, your work has a significant bearing on your quality of life. Based on the Professional Woman Report survey released by Citi and LinkedIn, working women have plenty to celebrate. Some highlights: The number of women who say they’ve reached their professional goals increased from 31% to 37% over the past year, and 84% of women who asked for a raise last year got one. The women surveyed also feel more financially secure, too. The percentage of those concerned about owing money on student loans and credit cards, as well as those concerned about saving for retirement, decreased across the board compared to last year’s responses.
Despite these successes, many respondents noted that their career motivation has waned—or changed. As the number of women who equate “having it all” with “reaching the height of success in their field” continues to decline, the percentage of those who equate success with having a job they enjoy has risen from 64% to 73% in the last two years. Yet, the majority of respondents across all age categories think their happiest days on the job are just behind them.
Instead of dwelling on what’s ‘not’ in your career or skill set today, look at what could be.
It’s a good thing careers are long and winding: You can reclaim that loving feeling for your work and help ensure that your best professional years remain in the present. Here’s how.
Focus on connecting. Clara Piloto is an executive coach and director of MIT Professional Education’s Online X Programs, which provide lifelong learning for science, engineering, and technology professionals. She says one of the real reasons people often fall out of love with their jobs stems from a lack of connection—with colleagues, supervisors, and even the vision of the organization. (In fact, the women who responded to the Citi/LinkedIn survey named “office politics” as a key source of their workplace frustration.)
Before you start looking for another job, consider how you communicate at work, and if that method fosters connection. Do you let your words come from the heart in a way that shows people your true personality, and the passion behind your ideas and solutions? Or do you rely purely on your “head,” which can make communication feel rote and devoid of feeling, and create an environment where you’re working alongside many but “with” no one?
Find ways to connect better with your colleagues. Swing by someone’s desk to inquire about progress on an initiative or invite someone on your afternoon coffee mission.
“Show up.” Survey respondents weighed a good salary, doing what they love, and being challenged as equally important contributors to job satisfaction. Piloto says you may be able to recapture all these things—even in a career you’ve lost interest in—by simply making a conscious choice to “show up” to work each day. She explains that when you commit to being truly present at work, you make people feel “heard.” In turn, they hear you.
“Engaging others through your focus, energy, and communication is crucial for giving and receiving constructive feedback, and increasing your power and influence,” says Piloto. “These encounters might open up new and great opportunities and projects to work on—and you might just fall in love with your job again.”
Be honest about your feelings. You have different interests throughout the course of your life; it’s perfectly natural for a job that once excited you to lose its luster. If that’s your reality, career coach Jennifer Chow Bevan suggests taking a step back: Reflect on your skills, values, and interests; then consider whether they’re aligning with your current path, and how they might be “transferable” to new opportunities—whether that means a new employer, a new role, a different industry, or maybe other initiatives at your present company that aren’t related to your job description. Instead of dwelling on what’s “not” in your career or skill set today, look at what could be.
“Our careers are long, and no longer linear,” says Bevan. “Career transitions and reinventions allow you to bring a fresh perspective and life experiences to new roles.”