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Originally published Monday, November 23, 2009 at 1:04 PM

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Experts offer tips for beating career blues

You drag yourself out of bed, head reluctantly to work and watch the minutes tick off the clock. Even a grocery list seems like more fun than your job, and you dream of being just about any place else.

AP Business Writer


You drag yourself out of bed, head reluctantly to work and watch the minutes tick off the clock. Even a grocery list seems like more fun than your job, and you dream of being just about any place else.

You may have a case of the career blues, stuck in a position that has become boring and lost the challenge that made you take it in the first place.

It may not be necessary to look for a new job. There are simple steps you can take to get back some professional fulfillment.

"Look, you're going to work for a long time in your life so you've got to get some enjoyment out of it," said Bob Kustka, president of Fusion Factor, a workplace consultancy in Norwell, Mass.

Here are some ideas about how to pump up your career and make it fun again.


Enthusiasm for a job can fade when you're not given new tasks to keep you motivated, said Kimberly Bowen, founder of career consulting firm Career Life Designs near Annapolis, Md.

"That's a very common issue for a lot of people," she said. "They really don't want to go to work. They can't wait to get home. They feel very stale, just not enthusiastic anymore. They need something more."

First, pinpoint the problem: Is it your boss, the assignments you've been given, the atmosphere in your company or the industry?

If you like the industry and the company but have problems with the boss, Kustka recommends finding a position working for another supervisor or at a different organization.

If it's the work itself or the industry that has been getting you down, the consultants first recommend a little self-analysis. Ask yourself:

- What do you really like about your job?


- What do you really love to do?

- What do you dislike about your job?

- What do you hate to do?

Make a list of your strengths at work and the outside interests you enjoy such as community, civic, family or church activities. Then see if there's any way to connect what you're good at with what you love to do. If there is, you may want to start looking for a job where it can all come together.

Bowen, for example, was working in the sciences industry but wanted a job helping people. About 10 years ago, she became a career coach.

"This is what people should find in their work, something that they really love and is meaningful," she said.


The next step is making sure your job fits both your passions in life and your work skills.

Let's say you like data analysis and you're good at math. That could point you toward a career in financial or market research where you could use the skills that you excel at in a job that interests you.

You could work in a broad range of industries, from a major Wall Street financial brokerage or a retail company to a smaller operation with a slower pace.

After graduating from college, Brooke Finnegan knew she wanted to work in the financial field but she wasn't sure what type of position to seek.

She had been doing accounting and finance for a clothes designer who worked out of her home.

"I love clothes as any girl does and I thought I wanted to get into that industry but I didn't once I started working with it," Finnegan said. "It was challenging but it wasn't the atmosphere I wanted."

At Kustka's suggestion, Finnegan met with a smaller banker, a controller and other industry professionals to get an idea about each type of business. Having educated herself about the options she had, she decided to move on. She took a position with Fidelity Investments and today is a senior systems analyst with its Pyramis Global Advisors group.


Telling your boss you'd like additional responsibilities or to work on a new project is a one way to get a new job without having to go through a job search. Taking the initiative will also let your boss know you're ambitious and proactive.

Another approach is to come up with a proposal for a new job description or project, and present it to the boss rather than asking him or her to find some new work for you. Not only will you come across as more aggressive, you'll also be showing off your creativity.

With so many companies having laid off workers, there may be plenty of opportunities to try something new in your current job.

There could be some risk involved, however, because the boss, thinking that you're bored, may wonder how busy you are and if there could be staff cuts in your department, said David Lewis, president of Operations Inc., a human resources consulting firm in Stamford, Conn. So, he said, you need to think strategically about seeking new responsibilities.

But, Lewis also said, "you're probably going to get some pats on the back for something like that, more so than you're going to get shown to the door."


If it's not possible to find a new job or new responsibilities, try volunteering after work at a nonprofit or another organization that interests you. Having something stimulating and fulfilling outside of your job may help ease your unhappiness at work.

Another idea is to become an entrepreneur on the side as long as you don't take time away from your primary job.

"It is incredibly easy today in comparison with a year ago, five years ago, 10 years ago to set up a business, to do so with some kind of an online presence if online is part of the strategy," Lewis said.

Other options are to take professional development courses, new classes or additional training to fine-tune skills.

"People stay very engaged in a job if they have new challenges, new opportunities to grow," Bowen said.

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