Like many professionals, I remember playing some version of “When I Grow Up” as a kid.
I went through a phase of playing Secretary, wherein I spent hours filing my father’s junk mail and pretending to “patch calls through” to Very Important People.
I also went through a phase of playing Teacher wherein I created attendance lists with dozens of made-up names and basically did nothing but take roll, over and over for hours on end.
Throughout childhood, I dreamt of working. Surely many of you can relate.
It’s no stretch to say that now, as happily employed adults, our childhood dreams have come true. And of course, this begs the question…now what?
Once you’re done with school and actually working—employed in a steady, stable career you actually like—what’s left?
Job satisfaction is at once a blessing and a curse. To avoid falling into the dreaded trap of complacency, try the following:
Regardless of your role and experience level, there’s always something new to learn and opportunities to stretch your skills. Look for projects that push your comfort zone and force you to think differently. Not only will this expand your abilities and make you more marketable in the future, it’ll keep your mind quick and engaged. Plus, there’s little time for boredom when you’re staring into the face of the unknown and saying, “Bring it on!”
Always, ALWAYS, Have Goals
There should never be a time in your career when you don’t have specific goals regarding your professional future. No matter how happy you are right now, there’s always something more to be had—more money, more authority, more fulfillment. Do not allow yourself to simply be satisfied with what you’ve got. Enjoy it. Be grateful. But, as Steve Jobs so famously said, stay hungry.
Switch Up Your Routines
Routines are yet another example of a simultaneous blessing and curse. We need them for efficiency, but they can also suck the life out of us. Don’t let routines turn you into a mindless drone. Shake things up now and again. Approach your routines with a fresh perspective and ask, “Is this really the best way to do this? Where can I make improvements?” Explore new technology. Try different methods. Don’t ever settle for business as usual. Make every day an opportunity for doing what you do better.
Most of us spend the first 20 to 25 years of life imaging what adulthood will be like. We invest thousands of dollars in our education in preparation for the working world. Once we get there, it can feel a little anti-climactic. It’s up to us to find and keep that youthful enthusiasm even as we wander the somewhat monotonous terrain of the adult world.