Five steps for maintaining (or regaining) your passion at work

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Still have passion for doing your job? I hope so. But the odds are your level of engagement has seriously eroded. Over 50% of people on Gallup surveys say that they’re not engaged in doing anything more than the minimum to get by at work. Astonishingly, over 17% admit to being actively disengaged – intentionally undermining their boss, frustrating their coworkers and sabotaging their organization.

What does it take to maintain (or regain) passion? You must orient to your inner values rather than focus on what’s wrong with everyone around you. It’s easy to see that some of your coworkers make life hard for everyone. And you may be right about the leadership in your organization not listening as well as they could to what you and your colleagues have to say. The problem is that dwelling on other people’s shortcomings simply leaves you feeling helpless and hopeless.

Here’s another approach. Look inward. Determine what outcomes you’re passionate about achieving. And then, to quote Gandhi, take action to “be the change you want to see in the world.”

First, pay attention to what you believe are the most valuable contributions you could be making at work. Look back at the top 2-3 times you were loving your job. What was it that was occurring that made those such valuable experiences? Recall a couple of times that you hated your work. What was happening that violated your values?

When you reflect what makes your work incredibly meaningful, what are the core values that stand out in your mind? Values are captured in words such as respect, communication, teamwork. What are the words that resonate deep in your gut?

Once you’ve identified these essential elements, you will have an internal guidance system that will enable you to keep your passion alive and well. Your actions are either in harmony with your values, or you are engaged in activities that are incongruent with what you believe is important for you to be doing. If you’re on the latter path, you’re headed toward burning out – the main symptom of which is not caring about your work anymore. Now you understand how that can happen.

Second, create a vision of what it would look like if you were able to more consistently be working in harmony with your values. What would that look like? What exactly would you be doing? How would it feel to be there? What outcomes would you be able to achieve? How would your relationships be working?

Third, share your values and vision with those coworkers who your heart tells you may also have the desire to be making a meaningful difference. Find out if your values align. Create a shared vision of what working harmoniously would look like.

Fourth, take action. Make it a small step, something that has a high probability of succeeding. Schedule it. Literally put a note on your calendar specifying exactly when you’ll do what you said you intend to do. Otherwise you’ll end up going down the road of good intentions. And you already know where that path leads.

Fifth, persevere. When you try our new behaviors, you’ll have a few failures. Ignore the critics – the ones inside and outside of you. Listen to the voice that is reorienting you to your values and your vision.