The once excited and ambitious turned tedious and gloomy legal history professor Oliver Lee Bateman recalled that fateful lecture when his career changed forever, “[This] student, who like all in-state students was paying $50 per lecture to hear me talk, was watching season one of Breaking Bad. In a class with no attendance grade, where the lectures were at least halfway decent, he was watching Breaking Bad.”
Bateman had to take a moment to consider what it was he was actually doing with his life. It wasn’t that he didn’t see the importance of his position, but the more he thought about it, the more he realized the passion was gone. He had fallen out of love with his job.
Bateman isn’t alone in feeling this way. Many people worldwide feel like they no longer love their jobs. This realization can feel demoralizing, especially when you think about how you once felt.
It’s important to note, however, that there’s a difference between hating your job and falling out of love with it. There are usually very specific and unavoidable reasons someone might hate their job. Falling out of love with it, on the other hand, can feel frustrating because the reasons feel less concrete and tangible.
Falling back in love with your job is possible, but just like any relationship, it takes effort on your part as well. As you understand the reasons why you might feel differently about your job today, you can work to regain the passion you once felt and lost.
People Are Leaving Their Jobs in Record Numbers
Workers are showing a growing disinterest in their jobs, all to the point where they’re leaving to look for new ones. At the moment, we’re in the midst of what is being called the Great Resignation, where the job market is in serious flux. A new survey from Grant Thornton found that 40 percent of people who switched jobs in the past 12 months are on the hunt for a new job once again. In 2021 alone, 48 million workers quit their jobs, breaking previous records.
So, why are so many people quitting now? After all, leaving a job isn’t a new phenomenon. The catalyst for this seismic change is the pandemic. Coming out of the pandemic, people started to look closer at their jobs, rethinking what it meant for their careers. Things they could tolerate before—low pay, poor working conditions, long commutes, and inflexible hours—became deal breakers. Workers suddenly had a lot more power to make demands, from schedule flexibility to increased benefits. With this shift to a more employee-friendly market, workers have been ready to move on if their current job didn’t provide these things.
Younger workers, in particular, have been a major driving force at this time. They desire a better work-life balance. They’re also less likely to stick it out at a job, hoping it improves. In just one example, a recent Nationwide survey found the younger the worker, the more likely they would consider leaving a job if it didn’t provide more flexibility, such as with remote work. From this perspective, it’s easy to see how a job people once loved can quickly become undesirable.
Other issues may arise around how much the company is willing to invest in its employees. For example, a LinkedIn Workforce Learning Report found that 94 percent of workers would want to stay at a company if it invested in their learning and development. It’s no wonder why some may sour on a job if organizational leadership doesn’t provide those opportunities.
Why Some People Fall Out of Love With Their Jobs
Besides the above reasons listed, there are other ways people fall out of love with their dream jobs. What starts out so promising and enjoyable can quickly evolve into something you simply don’t like anymore. The following are some of the additional reasons people may grow disenchanted with what they do.
- Burnout: Unfortunately, work burnout has become a common part of many jobs. According to a Gallup poll, 76 percent of workers experience it at least some of the time, with 21 percent saying it happens “very often” and another 7 percent saying it happens “always.” Constant exhaustion can quickly turn a great job into one you dread.
- Boredom: On the other hand, many people become bored with doing the same thing day in and day out. It’s not something they particularly dread, but the tedious nature of a job can leave workers feeling unfulfilled.
- Remote Work Transition: In recent years, especially in the wake of the pandemic, many jobs have transformed into remote positions. While some may like the change, others are struggling with it, leading them to fall out of love with their jobs. Jon M. Jachimowicz, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at Harvard Business School, described the problem in an article from the BBC: “When you’re in the office and it’s hectic, you don’t have as much space and time to think. It’s hard to zoom out and think about the next month, year, or five years of your life. Being at home kind of forces that on you, for better or worse. It made people start to question: ‘How can I live a life or have a career that’s in line with what I’m actually interested in?’”
- Lack of Balance: For many people, their jobs become less appealing if it dominates their lives. People want to have enough free time to pursue their interests and hobbies. If a job doesn’t allow that, then they may come to resent it.
- Lack of Appreciation: Even when you’re doing what you love, if you don’t receive recognition for your work, it can often feel like you’re not valued. When business leaders don’t properly appreciate their workers, their employees will likely look elsewhere for that recognition.
8 Tips for Falling in Love With Your Job Again
1. Focus on the Vision and Mission
Every effective company should have a specific vision and mission exemplified in a vision statement and mission statement. At times, it can be easy to forget them when you’re going through your daily routine. Take a step back and think about how each task you do relates to these items. That tenth email you’re writing to a client may feel like drudgery, but if you can connect it to the overall vision and mission of the company, that task begins to take on a new level of importance. With more connections like these, you give added meaning to even some of the mundane tasks you do.
In a sense, this is all about figuring out why you fell in love with your job in the first place. Remember what it was that helped you get out of bed in the morning. If you can recall initial feelings like that, you can encourage those feelings to resurface.
2. Align Your Core Values
Before you fall back in love with your job, you need to love yourself. Take a moment to reflect on your core values. What motivates you? What problems do you want to solve in the world? Once you know your core values, you can align them with your work. A sense of dissatisfaction may come from a misalignment, so getting everything in order should be a priority.
3. Engage In or Organize Social Activities
Many businesses will offer opportunities for you to socialize with your coworkers outside of business hours. Make sure to take advantage of those opportunities. Doing so can help you grow closer to the people you work with and, in turn, help you love your job again. According to Dr. Angela K. Troyer, the Program Director of Neuropsychology and Cognitive Health at Baycrest, interacting with others lowers the risk of depression, improves your physical health, and may even help you live longer.
Not every company will offer these social opportunities, however. That’s when you need to take the initiative. Organize the events yourself. Think of some fun things to do that everyone can enjoy. Just remember as you do this, you need to invite everyone. Be fully inclusive, and make sure no one feels left out. You don’t want to be the reason someone else falls out of love with their job.
4. Show Gratitude
Robert Emmons, author of The Little Book of Gratitude: Creating a Life of Happiness and Wellbeing by Giving Thanks, knows about the power of gratitude. He explains that when people lack gratitude, they experience higher job dissatisfaction, burnout, and absenteeism. However, a grateful person can counteract a difficult work environment. As he puts it, “Grateful individuals live in a way that leads to the kind of workplace environment that human beings long for.” While every job has its problems, take a moment to note what you’re grateful for. Focus on the positive. You’ll find that there might be a lot you have overlooked.
5. Change What You Can
You can’t control everything at your job, but you may be surprised at what lies within your sphere of influence. Take your immediate workspace as an example. If things feel like they’ve grown stale, change your surroundings. Liven up your desk with new items, including plants. Or if possible, spend a day working in another location. As you exert your control over things, you will realize how much is in your power. Maintaining that control can help you stay satisfied with your job.
6. Take a Break
It might sound ridiculous, but did you know that more than half of American workers (55 percent) don’t use all of their vacation days? Do you fall into the same category? Don’t let your time off go to waste. Take full advantage of PTO. Doing so will help you feel better about your job. According to the American Psychological Association, 68 percent of workers had a more positive mood when returning from vacation, while 58 percent felt they were more productive.
7. Look for Learning Opportunities
In your job, you can also look to expand your mind and develop your skill set. Look for learning opportunities. Take training courses that your company offers. If your current position is unsatisfying, is there another position within the organization that looks more appealing? Start cultivating the skills needed to land that position. When you have a promising goal to work toward, you start feeling extra motivation.
8. Talk With Your Manager About Problems
If you’re encountering issues in your job, open up to your manager about them. Don’t wait to express your concerns. Too many people seem to think that they need to hold onto their worries until a “big meeting” situation, especially now that so many companies have gone remote. You don’t have to bottle up your feelings until then. Send a quick message to your manager to set up a time to discuss what’s bothering you. Most importantly, make your discussion a real conversation. Rants don’t change policies or conditions, but dialogue does. Show respect and consideration, and your employer should return it to you.
You Don’t Have to Stay in a Bad Situation
Your relationship with your job is often like a personal relationship. You can give it your all and try to make it work, but if you’ve tried everything, it may be time to “break up” with your company. You can tell you may be on your way out if you’ve checked out mentally, or if the company isn’t responding to your concerns. When a relationship is unhealthy from both ends, it serves no one to keep it going. Breaking up can be difficult and even painful, but oftentimes it ends up benefiting both sides.
Don’t feel like you need to stay where you are. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of job openings in the U.S. in May 2022 numbered more than 11 million. Companies are looking to hire people at record numbers. The opportunities are there. You don’t have to stay at a business where you are not appreciated or feel fulfilled.
Perhaps the main factor leading to a breakup is when your core values are different from the company’s. You can try to make it work all you want, but opposite core values mean you have different goals and visions in mind. No matter what you do, you will always be at odds. In such cases, the best move will be to get out.
In other cases where you’ve simply lost your passion for the job, rediscovering that passion is a strategy that presents less risk. Take the time to implement the above tips, and see if you can fall in love with your job once again.
If you are in the job market and have a more introverted personality, get tips from “12 of the Best Jobs for Introverts.”