I want to make a difference, not just do my job.
You’re good at your job; you get paid well; it’s a secure position, and your boss is pleased with your work. Sounds perfect, right? But even with that level of success, you don’t feel like you’re doing anything that really matters. You’re not excited to start work each day, and every day feels routine.
How can you determine if you should change how you work, or if you should look for something different? Ask yourself these questions:
Are you able to spend most of your time on important work? Maybe you’re in a position where you’re in leadership meetings all day, and you miss the action on the front line with clients.
When that happens, remind yourself of your organization’s impact by talking directly to a client (or to one of your people who does that regularly). Revisit comments from customers who have expressed appreciation in the past. Then think of the things your job entails that make those success stories possible, and structure your time to focus on those key activities.
Do you get to do new and different things occasionally that add interest to your job? If you work alone, find a way to be part of a team project and vice versa. Challenge the way things have always been done and suggest new strategies for success.
Can you balance your time for both personal and professional success? If you find yourself taking work home on evenings or weekends, consider setting boundaries so you can focus on both. Then announce those boundaries to your team, so they know how to accommodate them. If you decide to turn your phone off at the end of your day, let your team know that they won’t hear back from you until the next morning.
Take breaks during the day but do something to get variety. If your job involves mostly mental work, do something physical (like taking a walk) to refresh your mind. If your job is more physical, take a break to rest, reflect, and recharge.
Do people ignore your input and suggestions, and you don’t feel like you have a voice? Ask several colleagues for feedback about how you come across to others and implement their ideas. Look for blind spots that can get in the way of connecting effectively.
Keep yourself visible by sharing the results you’re getting, not just your activities. You can’t just assume that others will automatically notice the good work you’re doing; they’re too busy focusing on their own results.
Do you have opportunities for growth? Take advantage of the chance to build your skillset where available, or suggest outside training options to your manager. As your skillset grows, your value increases—and the more engaged you might find yourself in your position.
If you can find ways to grow in your current role, talk to your manager about making them a reality. If these questions don’t lead to energizing solutions, it might be time to explore your options.