For millions of people, the pandemic has led them to question their focus and purpose in life. Changing priorities and feelings about work have led to trends like “the great resignation” and “quiet quitting.”
However, you don’t have to phone it in or walk away because you’re feeling lost at work. From mentoring a younger entrepreneur to carving out space for non-work activities, there are many ways to reignite that spark of joy in your career.
How to enjoy work when you’re bored
As a founder, the early days of a business can be full of excitement and creativity. As your company scales, your days may be filled with meetings and administrative tasks.
If you’re feeling disengaged or unmotivated, try the following tips.
Mentor a younger entrepreneur
Consider mentoring an up-and-coming entrepreneur in your network to rediscover the passion you had starting out.
Your time and experience will be a tremendous asset to someone else. By sharing the wisdom you’ve gleaned over the years, it’ll remind you of just how far you’ve come.
Jerry Han, chief marketing officer, PrizeRebel
Start a reflective practice
Many entrepreneurs had a specific reason for starting a business — like pursuing a passion or seeing a need in the market. But the original inspiration often gets lost in the daily grind of running a company.
Take time to reflect on why you founded your business and why you may be bored. Focus on the reasons that motivated you, the excitement you felt, your accomplishments, and other reasons you were drawn to creating the venture.
Journal about your reasons and reorient yourself to align with your purpose, and review the journal if you experience negative feelings again.
Dan Reed, career coach and HR consultant, Top Prospect Careers
Refocus on your creative instinct
Entrepreneurs tend to have a creative spark and believe in their ability to make a vision into reality. That creative instinct should be a driving factor in continuing to enjoy work, but it can get lost as your daily tasks pile up.
Try refocusing on creativity daily, like taking time out for a 10-minute brainstorm of new ideas or directions. Maybe a minor task like answering an email won't get done, but you will enjoy your work a little more as a result.
Scott Hitchins, CMO, Interact Software
Do something different
If you’re feeling bored, stressed, or unfulfilled by the work that you’re doing, try to do something different for a while.
This may be a small thing like going to the gym or going out for a coffee with a book, or it may be a bigger thing, such as taking a few days off and traveling.
The fact that you’re feeling this way, especially as it heads into winter, is completely natural. However, it’s not a reflection on you as an entrepreneur, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Take a break — you’ll come back stronger than ever.
Ravi Davda, CEO, Rockstar Marketing
Try out unique experiments
If you’re stuck in a lull, take a break to try new and creative experiments. Experimental learning breaks the monotonous circle, helps you understand your work differently, and creates awareness of new things.
Implementation of ideas derived from this process can help you feel more fulfilled in your job. Consider implementing monthly experimental workdays in your company to drive passion and innovation.
Michael Koh, senior IT director, PropNex
How to enjoy work when you’re overwhelmed
If you’re wearing multiple hats, trying to keep up with a growing business, and have too much on your plates, consider the following advice.
Learn to delegate
If you’re in a phase where you are disengaged, stressed, or frustrated, find someone else who can help complete the project.
Bringing in another person can relieve you of repetitive tasks and allow you to focus on areas where you can have the most impact. It also provides someone else with an opportunity to shine.
Logan Mallory, vice president of marketing, Motivosity
Break things into manageable chunks
Entrepreneurial endeavors, by nature, encourage dreaming big. While this means founders can move mountains in the best of times, they can also become overwhelmed by the scale of their ambitions.
When these feelings set in, try breaking down your work into smaller chunks. For example, after setting your goal for the year, work backward to break it down into the steps you need to take each month, week, and day to get you to the finish line.
This creates more manageable goals, and allows you to continue striving for the next milestone. Owning a business is a marathon, so getting that feel-good dopamine hit from small wins will keep you motivated at every mile.
Patrick Ward, founder, NanoGlobals
How to enjoy work when you’ve burned out
The Hustle’s survey of 300+ entrepreneurs revealed that 63% of business owners have dealt with or are currently dealing with burnout. Even though you may be dealing with setbacks or an increasing workload, it’s critical to remember to cultivate joy at work.
Reap the rewards of your efforts
Take a break to smell the roses, go on a vacation, spend time with loved ones, and recharge.
Don’t make your career and work your entire life — they’re just a piece of the bigger picture. Personal and professional growth go hand in hand, and taking care of yourself will ultimately fuel your drive and passion for what you do.
Joey Sasson, vice president of sales and logistics, Moving APT
Listen to your body
When you’re feeling burned out, take a moment to check in with how your body feels. Are your muscles sore? Does your mind feel foggy?
If yes, rearrange your to-do list and push more intensive tasks, such as writing or coding, to another day. Instead of being rigid and sticking to your deadlines, aim to be flexible and switch things up.
Spend the day reading, nourishing your body, and hanging out with loved ones. The next day, you’ll feel more energized and have more space to take on creative projects.
Megan Lowdon, director of operations, Robert Lowdon Photography
Keep your social circle intact
Being a leader can be stressful, which can lead to losing contact with friends and going to social gatherings purely for business purposes.
Take time to relax with close friends, go out, and chill. It refreshes the mind and puts things in perspective when you are worried about your job.
You may be constantly adapting to changes at work, and those in your inner circle provide a comfort zone, giving you a sense of peace and familiarity.
Rick Nehora, managing partner, California Law Firm
Billionaire hedge fund magnate Ray Dalio has practiced Transcendental Meditation (TM) for decades and says it has helped him reach his accomplishments. TM is a type of meditation where you silently repeat a mantra in your head until you reach a state of inner peace.
Try to practice twice a day for 20 minutes, and get a certified transcendental meditation teacher to teach the technique. The benefits include lower blood pressure, reduced stress, and increased energy and focus.
Vadim Lobarev, CEO, MindHunt
Make time for non-work activities
Many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of believing that they are available to work 24/7. Instead, use the daily calendar to block out time for non-work activities.
For example, schedule time during the day to run an errand, work out, take a walk, or meditate. The key is to follow through — if something urgent comes up for work that cuts into the time for the non-work activity, the non-work activity should be rescheduled on the same day or for another day.
Treating non-work activities with the same level of importance as work-related activities will help establish a healthier work-life balance.
Gerald Sauer, attorney, Attorneys for Employees
How to enjoy work when you hate it
If you hate your job, it can be tough to go through the motions of showing up each day. However, there are a few things you can do to try and reignite that spark of joy.
Get to the root cause
When you’re feeling bored, stressed, or otherwise unfulfilled, ask the following questions to help uncover what’s really going on:
- When was the last time I felt excited and engaged in my work? What was different then?
- What drew me to becoming an entrepreneur? What’s my vision for the future?
- What’s missing in my work life? What support structures do I desire?
Common derailers include a lack of variety in one’s work, leading to a feeling of monotony; a lack of support, leading to stress and burnout; or a lack of vision for the work, leaving one feeling unfulfilled.
Knowing what’s behind your discontent is the first step toward feeling more engaged.
Emily Golden, CEO and strategic talent adviser, Golden Resources, LLC
Don’t be afraid to change direction
Feeling unfulfilled can come about when you no longer see the impact of your work.
This is an opportunity to take a step back and evaluate whether the business is doing what you envisioned it doing.
Are you making a difference? Are you making a good living from your entrepreneurial venture? Are you leaving a positive legacy? Answering these questions can help you identify the source of your unhappiness.
Consider changing direction if things are not working out as you want them to. For example, if a certain client is a major source of your stress and has been for a long time, it might be time to let them go and create space for a better one.
Joe Coletta, founder and CEO, 180 Engineering
How to help your employees enjoy work
An engaged and happy workforce is a productive workforce. Here are four easy ways to create a motivating environment for your employees.
Lead by example
If you’re having fun, your team will follow suit. Create a culture that values family, time off, or social impact, and offer employees opportunities to prioritize those things.
Communicate your company’s values
Make sure your team knows what your company stands for and what you value as a leader. When employees feel like they are part of something bigger, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated.
Offer opportunities for growth and development
Part of enjoying work is feeling like you’re constantly learning and growing. When you offer employees chances to develop their skill set and try new things at their job, they will feel more fulfilled.
Show your appreciation
Your employees work hard day in and day out — show them that you appreciate their efforts. Little things like saying thank you or offering occasional perks can go a long way in making your team feel valued.