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Seven Ways To Snap Out Of That First Job Rut


Have you ever felt unhappy at work? Felt like you were being underutilized? Felt like nobody was listening or supporting you? Felt bored? Have you ever had a friend that was notorious about doing nothing but complaining about work?

There are many parts of our first job that are out of our control. The timing and pool of skills might play a role in getting the job you want. The current demands of your company can all play a role to get a steady revenue. Your work might ebb and flow depending on the demand of your client or the market. It might be your dream job or it might be far from it. Regardless, it’s not always easy for many to immediately find gratification where they start.

What we can control, however, is our attitude and how we derive meaning from even the worst circumstances. It’s easy to advise that someone should just be optimistic or maintain an open mind but it often takes a bit more reflection than that. It’s no secret that when your work and direction is meaningful and clear, you will be more innovative, productive, and happier at work and in life.

To take action and optimize, we first have to ask the hard questions: Why am I feeling this way? What exactly has gone wrong? We have to understand where we might be feeling lost.

Consider the following questions:

  • Do you feel underutilized? Determine Opportunities and Ask. Do you feel like you're doing nothing all the time and it's driving you crazy? Is there an area of the job where you can get more autonomy, responsibility or decision making power? The opportunities may be all over the place without you realizing it. Many managers fill out financial inputs or weekly summaries and reports. Are there any additional reports you can take priority on? Do any team members have ad-hoc tasks that can be expedited with your help? Is there any way you can study the company internally and externally and see if there are any gaps where you can lead solutions? Develop a proposal for an application to solve a efficiency problem? If being underutilized is a disappointment, strive for more. It’s easy to wallow but there is also a risk in being too complacent. As Michelangelo said, “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”

  • Do you feel under appreciated? Embrace Gratitude. Do you feel that your opinions and contributions aren't recognized and appreciated by your supervisor and/or colleagues? Do you appreciate others? Consider making it a point to light the fire and start handing out thank you notes and thank you emails to those who help you out on even the smallest things. Gratitude can often be contagious. Suggest a recognition program. Most companies will be very responsive to trying out such programs if they can retroactively build morale.