If you work in social care, chances are high that you once chose your profession out of a genuine desire to help other people. It’s an advantage you have over other jobs, where it can be more difficult to find meaning.
Yet even if you work in a career you care about, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain your enthusiasm for your job. If you no longer love what you do, what are the reasons? Have you lost your desire to help, or has it simply been swamped by the realities at work, such as bureaucracy, monitoring, poor staffing levels, low morale and low wages? Or do you feel burnt out after years of devoting your life to helping others?
If you want to rekindle your love for your job, here are five powerful steps to take:
1. Take care of your own needs
If you don’t look after your own needs, you’ll eventually burn out. That will be of no use to the people you serve. You may become stressed, ill, grumpy or even resent your colleagues or service users. As they say on the plane, “Put your oxygen mask on first”.
This could be about leaving work on time, exercising regularly, meditating or saying “no” more often. You may also benefit from seeing a supervisor or coach to process the issues and emotions you are confronted with at work.
2. Establish why you do your job
Remember why you originally chose your profession? How connected do you still feel to that purpose? Can you still see how you have a positive impact on other people’s lives? Think about all the people you helped over the last year and write a list of the 10 whose lives you impacted most positively. Remember, even the smallest things can make a huge difference, such as just listening or smiling.
If you’re still not satisfied with the impact you have, how could you change this? Does the problem lie with your employer, the environment you work in, the industry – or have your attitude and values changed?
3. Set inspiring challenges
Do you have enough inspiring challenges that motivate and help you learn and grow? Even if you have a job you love, you may become bored after a while if you’re performing the same routines over and over. Have you noticed how frustrated and detached from work you can become if you lack any sort of new and inspiring challenge?
How about talking to your manager to discuss new projects or responsibilities for you, or a different role that provides a change of scene?
4. Make sure you’re valued
The degree of your job satisfaction will depend on the extent to which you feel valued at work. Whilst you cannot control how others see you, it’s up to you to ensure that you’re in a job where you’re appreciated by your employer and service users. If you don’t feel valued, have a frank discussion with your manager.
The longer you stay in a position where you feel unappreciated or don’t receive a fair remuneration for your services, the more you’ll resent your job and move along the downward spiral of job dissatisfaction.
5. Understand how you may create your own stress
Have you ever noticed how some people seem able to deal with stressful situations so much better than others? They may be in exactly the same situation as you, but respond to it differently.
Partly this is about learning how to manage stress more effectively, but the real game-changer is to understand how much of the stress you experience is actually generated by yourself. For example, if you lack confidence, find it difficult to set boundaries or set unrealistically high standards for yourself, you won’t only find it harder to manage external stress but you’ll also add stress through your internal thoughts and emotions. If that’s you, you may want to explore your internal stress factors with a therapist or coach.
Sometimes it just requires a mind-shift to re-engage with your career; for others it might mean learning new skills or making changes in the way they work.
If none of these steps helps, or you’ve simply had enough, then it may be time to explore other options. This could be a new role, a new employer or even an entirely new career – or setting up your own business.
Job satisfaction is not something that’s given to you. You co-create it with your employer, and it starts by knowing what you really want from your career.
Life’s too short to waste in a job you don’t enjoy.
About the Author
Hans Schumann, The Masterful Living® Coach, is a career & life coach and author of the book Falling in Love with your Job – How to create more fulfilment and excitement in your career which is available on Amazon. For more information go to www.hansschumann.com or www.LoveYourJobBook.com