Michelle Ward is a radiantly enthusiastic career counselor with a powerful mission: helping people turn energy-draining jobs into work that feels like play. (She left a ho-hum job in corporate America to coach full-time.) Even if you can’t ditch your job—many of Ward’s clients have high-paying jobs or are closing in on retirement—there are ways to spice things up.
Here’s the five-step plan Ward outlined for Life Reimagined.
Step One: Change your attitude. Instead of feeling like a cog in the wheel, think of yourself as an entrepreneur. “Treat your career in a way that puts you in the driver’s seat,” she says. “Most of our unhappiness comes from a sense of powerlessness. Remember that you call the shots.”
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Step Two: Ask for what you want. Calling the shots sure sounds nice, but how can you apply an entrepreneurial mindset to a 9-5 gig? “Act like a detective. Eke out the things you do love about your day-to-day. Then say to your manager: ‘This is how I want to be more helpful, and this is where I thrive. How can I do more of that here?’ Ward says that this script, presented as an enthusiastic value-add, has helped many clients land happier positions within their companies.
Step Three: Step away from your desk. Find ways to align your passions with your goals through philanthropy, volunteering, consulting, or even speaking about your industry. “Do something that’s tied to your career experiences in a way that matters to you,” she says.
Step Four: Consider your obituary. Morbid, maybe, but if you’re truly miserable, it’s really OK to break free. “Clients who are locked into golden handcuffs sometimes need to be reminded that they might have a nest egg, which can enable them to explore new options if they’re comfortable. Ask yourself what will make you feel secure enough to leave,” she says. If this sounds scary, set a timeframe: Take a sabbatical or just a week off to reevaluate before making a big leap.
Step Five: Do something you love each day. Break up a humdrum schedule with happy treats, even if it’s just running out for a 15-minute coffee or journaling break. “Give yourself something to look forward to; take a break from the environment for a while,” she says.
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Finally, for a bit of levity, check out Ward’s most popular blog post: 8 Ways to Get Through Your Day Job Without Shooting Yourself in the Face.
Photo Credit: Getty