Opinion: 7 ways to reignite enthusiasm at work

Posted online

Consider the difference between two employee groups.

Group A is driven, energetic, cheerful and hopeful. They believe in the company’s vision; they get engaged willingly and commit to getting outcomes for their team.

Group B lacks enthusiasm, complains quickly and blames management. They do the bare minimum to draw a paycheck. Their unhappy faces and words, along with their resistance to new ideas and change, make it clear that apathy, not enthusiasm, guides their attitude.

Enthusiasm often spreads among employees, but so does apathy. Apathy drains energy and drive. Treat your work or life to constant apathy, and it won’t be easy to find contentment. What’s more, when apathy spreads at work, it can set the tone for an entire team, department or even the whole company. 

To work with passion, excitement and purpose requires a determined effort, and second, it requires the persistence to carry it into daily choices.

Anyone can lose some excitement for the work they do. Here are seven ways to reignite your enthusiasm.

  1. Find the potential in your work. If the work is boring to you, try asking yourself if it’s the work or your attitude toward the profession. If it’s truly the work, you may need a new job. If it’s your attitude, find the potential or opportunity in the position, then develop it.
  2. Resist the spreaders of negativity. Early in my career, I worked with a negativist. He tried to affect my morale and create doubt about our sales goals. But his plan didn’t work. Instead, I used it to fuel my drive and enthusiasm and set new sales records. Ignore the voice of pessimism. Listen to the possibilities.
  3. Cultivate the virtue of enthusiasm. Most of us are about as enthusiastic as we choose to be. If you don’t feel like being excited, make yourself act that way. Cultivating enthusiasm as if you already have it develops and makes enthusiasm start working for you.
  4. Watch out for burnout. Whenever low-level burnout occurs – maybe we’re functional in our job, but the joy of the work is gone – taking time off can help relieve stress temporarily. But it won’t fix things if how you spend time on the job is the real problem. Or maybe we enjoy the work but get overcommitted, overwhelmed or overworked. Time off won’t fix that, either. Find balance in how you approach getting work done.
  5. Control complaining. Complaining makes it more challenging to maintain a positive attitude because it focuses your mind on gripes and disappointments. To switch the mind’s attention from what it’s unhappy about to a more grateful view, make a list of everything you appreciate about your work, however small it is. Keep the list handy and review it several times a day to achieve a more positive outlook.
  6. Empty the mind of discouragement. When enthusiasm declines, discouragement seems to increase, and that requires swift action. If we don’t interrupt the effects of frustration, pity and disappointment, our minds are vulnerable to increased anxiety. Resist discouraging thoughts; replace them with good ideas about good things and good news. Choose what you allow – and what you don’t – into the theater of your mind.
  7. Make today a great day. To make today great requires being intentional about the life force and energy we are willing to invest in each day’s potential. A great day isn’t any more likely to happen than gold nuggets rolling off a conveyor belt. It will take sheer energy and focus to resist the pressures and monotony that form against your enthusiasm.

The greatest workplace desire for any person is to be happy. It is not merely to go through the motions of our day, but to have fulfillment, joy, fun, rewarding relationships and achievements from our efforts.

Enthusiasm helps us experience happiness in our work, turn adversity into advantage, and experience success in what we do. Choose enthusiasm today.

Consultant, professional speaker and author Mark Holmes is president of Consultant Board Inc. and MarkHolmesGroup.com. He can be reached at mark@markholmesgroup.