Lately, I've been hearing so many people complain about their jobs, even those who are their own boss. With Valentine's Day and the focus on romantic relationships, I thought maybe it was time to help people fall back in love with what they do for a living. I scoured the country for experts and was thrilled to share their suggestions in my Miami Herald column today.I posted it below. Let me know if you have anything to add to the conversation.
As Valentine's Day nears, most people focus on romantic relationships. We want to spice them up a bit, rekindle the passion, or maybe we just want to find that special someone. Yet, coming out of a difficult 2009, we might have lost the passion in one of our most important and time-consuming relationships -- the one with our jobs.
Indeed, less than half of American workers, 45 percent, are satisfied with their jobs, according to a recent survey by the Conference Board. Whether you are an employee buried under a pile of added responsibilities or a small-business owner just trying to stay afloat, there are ways to fall back in love with what you do for a living.
Just like in a romantic relationship, don't wait for your partner, in this case your employer, to make things better. Take charge in the quest to bring sexy back. I talked to some experts for suggestions:
Go back to the way things were.
Remember how it was when you started and you were motivated to do your best? You had a clean desk and an optimistic attitude. Maybe you even had a grand plan for how you were going to move up the corporate ladder or build your business. What was it that first excited you about going to work -- your co-workers, a great boss, a good location, opportunity to grow your skills? Make a list of those things that attracted you to your job and spend more time on them.
Executive coach Steve Schack, director of Clear Blue Associates in New York, says he recently coached a CEO who missed the interaction with the customers he once had in sales. Schack suggested the top executive spend one morning a week calling on customers with his sales people.
``Sometimes it just takes having a serious talk with yourself to figure out what energizes you.''
Bring something new to the relationship.
To bring the spark back, ``maybe it's time to propose a new project,'' says Deborah Brown-Volkman, a career, life and wellness coach with Surpass Your Dreams in East Moriches, N.Y. Everyone, especially people who feel trapped in their jobs, needs something to look forward to in the workplace, even if you already feel overworked. ``You are not doing it for your company, you are doing it for you because it's something you will enjoy,'' Brown says.
For example, Susan Boone, marketing director for Trump International Beach Resort in Sunny Isles Beach, launched a program called ``Make A Difference'' as a way for the hotel to give back to the community. Boone and some of her colleagues visited schools to teach children about saving the planet. It was a program she came up with and it helps kindle a passion for her job.
Love the one you're with.
At some point, we all fantasize that we would be happier in a different situation -- whether it's at work or in romance. But the reality is that no job is perfect just like no partner is perfect. Talk to other business owners or to people in your profession. You likely will discover every job comes with some aggravation.
Try looking at your job differently, suggests Kandee G, a motivational speaker and corporate development leader based in Plantation.
``The more you focus on what's going right, the more right things will show up for you,'' says Kandee G. Even if you are down on your profession, there always is some aspect you enjoy. ``When I was selling real estate, it was not the job of my dreams. However, I value being of service. I found ways to be of service to my clients and it made what I did delightful.''
Make time for each other.
When was the last time you gave up multitasking to spend time on the favorite parts of your job? For Miami corporate attorney Tom Schultz, an exciting part of law is pro bono work. Schultz has learned to steal moments of time with the door closed -- especially during court holidays -- to focus on a 5-year-old case in which he is helping a housekeeper reestablish her rights to a condo she bought from a women who later passed away. The women's daughter has been trying to void the contract.
``It's very satisfying and professionally fulfilling to use your education and skills to help people who desperately need it,'' Schultz says.
Choose the right influences.
Marriage counselor Joel Block regularly advises couples to hang out with people who have good relationships. In the workplace, he advises spending time with people who feel passionate about their jobs. ``Find someone who loves what they do and does it well. That will put your mind in the right place.'' Block, who works in New York, also suggests putting effort into your relationships with your co-workers or staff. ``If you want to love your work, you will need to relate well to the people around you. Treat those relationship as valuable.''
Every good relationship is based on strong communications. If you want something different out of your job, make your boss aware. Many workers would like a more flexible schedule, better benefits or a small policy change that would make a huge difference. The worst that could happen is the boss says no. ``This might require some self-awareness and recognition of judgments you are making about your job,'' says Dan McNeill, CEO of The McNeill Group, an executive coaching and leadership development firm based in Plantation.
Along those lines, make sure your boss knows how you prefer to be acknowledged for hard work. Do you want to be included in high-level discussions? Are you looking for a pay raise or bonus? If you are the boss, ask your staff for ideas to make them happy and the workplace more fun. ``There's a presumption that senior management ought to know,'' McNeill says ``If you are the employer, make sure your suggestion system functions effectively.''
Everyone tires of their partner if they never spend time apart. Schack says people need to get up and walk around during the day, get out of the office, socialize at lunchtime and keep your time off as work-free as possible.
Here's a comment a Facebook friend made when reading my article:
Alyssa Horn Lerner commented on your link:
"Hi Cindy, as an Attorney Recruiter and Executive Coach, I LOVE what you wrote! Very useful ideas that anyone can put into practice on a daily basis. Focusing on the positive aspects of your job can make going to work more pleasant. If you can't find anything positive in your job, create something. For example, go to your boss and suggest a project that you would enjoy working on. Your boss will be impressed with your creativity and you will enjoy what you are doing!