Have you ever noticed that there are times you’re really engaged at work and times you’re not? There are projects that fire you up and projects that drain you. There are people you love to work with and people whom you simply can’t seem to stand being in the same room with.
In order to be your best at your job, in order to lead most thoughtfully and effectively (whether you “lead” from the top, bottom, or middle of an organization) you need to find and follow your own passion. You need to fuel yourself with projects and people that keep you engaged and connected to your work.
Clients sometimes complain to us about the lack of attention they feel from their manager or the organization overall. When asked why they feel so disengaged or helpless, they often describe a lack of investment in their growth, or even their day-to-day engagement, on the part of the company. And yet, it is up to each of them, to each of us individually, to find a way to fuel our own passion and to reignite ourselves to care more and give more.
Over our years of supporting clients we’ve discovered some fail-proof methods to reigniting passion and engagement at work – try a few and see how they work for you:
- Manage your energy interpersonally – Determine which projects, people, and environments fill you with energy, and throw yourself into those as much as possible. At the same time, notice those projects, people, and environments that drain you of energy, and do your best to manage the impact they have on you – “bookend” those meetings with conversations and/or tasks that fill you and schedule those meetings or tasks for when you’re at your best (can you manage things better in the morning? At night? After lunch?). Simply noticing what fills you and what drains you can prepare you to perform at your best.
- Manage your energy physically – Make sure you have enough to eat and drink, and enough of the proper “energy” foods (not junk food). Get enough rest and enough exercise. If you can’t get enough rest or enough exercise, recognize that you’re operating at a deficit and do your best to manage accordingly. Take breaks from especially the most arduous tasks and “schedule” time to get a drink of water, walk around the block (or the office), and stretch your muscles. Managing your physical energy and your body is another way to help you perform at your best.
- Design a project for yourself that you’d LOVE to do – When we specifically choose to work on things that excite and ignite us, we are, by definition more engaged and passionate about our work…and we therefore find more energy and innovation to tackle projects, people, and tasks. By determining the stuff at work that truly interests you and designing a project that incorporates what you already care about, you allow yourself to have projects at work that you care about. This brings more of your passion and self to your work.
- Gain new perspectives on your current tasks and situations – It is all too easy to get caught in seeing things as we’ve always seen them, but gaining a new perspective can help us become more open to new approaches and ideas. It is also a way to become excited again about things that no longer excite us. Just as a new member on a team can find what’s good and energizing about the project that has everyone else bored and disengaged, envisioning yourself as a new member of the team can help you see things in a way that can move you from disengagement to passion and excitement.
- Find what you love outside of work – You can reengage yourself at work by reengaging yourself outside of work – call it the “trickle-through” theory. Even when we ignite ourselves, our passion, and our enthusiasm with something completely outside of our work realm, this excitement often “trickles-through” to help us view all aspects of our life with more excitement, even the projects at work that had us disheartened and disengaged. If you love to write, write. If you love to paint, paint. If you love to counsel and support others, find a not-for-profit where you can offer support to those in need. If you long to lead more formally, find a community project that you can spearhead. All of these efforts will help you find ways to fuel and fire your passion….and this “external” passion can bring a better, stronger, happier, more innovative you to your actual work at hand.
How have you reengaged and ignited your passion? We’d love to know what’s worked.