A generation ago, it was normal to get a job right out of high school or college and stick with it until you retired. That’s no longer the case: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median number of years the average worker stays at one job is 4.6 years. But if you are someone who has worked in the same position — or the same career — for a number of years, it can take some ingenuity, inspiration, and creative spark to stay excited and energized.
We asked members of the Thrive community to tell us how they’ve stayed fulfilled in their long-term jobs or careers, and they shared helpful advice about how you can find the same sense of gratification in the workplace.
Communicate your goals and potential
“I worked in health care for six years, and there were times when I felt my potential wasn’t being used within my position. So, I made a point to establish healthy communication between me and my manager. After I felt more comfortable, I wasn’t afraid to communicate that I wanted to work on new projects when they sparked my interest. I also wrote down my current and long term goals so that whenever I started feeling discouraged, I had a physical reminder of where I was heading and a way to check that I was on the right track.”
—Arielle Wiltshire-Scott, UX researcher, Kenosha, WI
Step outside of your comfort zone
“I’ve been dancing in the same West End show for five years, and I’ve learned that trying new things outside of my work keeps me excited about my job. I make it a point to take an art class every once in a while, and I signed up for an African drumming class a few weeks ago. Sometimes, I take a dance class in a style foreign to me, just to give my body a new way of moving and my brain a new challenge. I’m enrolled in an acting course and finding that it pushes me so far from my comfort zone that it encourages me to take more risks in my current show. Trying new things will keep you excited about your job by creating new ways of thinking.”
—Crystal Nicholls, performer and teacher, London, UK
Build new connections
“What keeps me interested in my job is the connections that I am able to establish when I meet new people. It’s like having a mini work family, which I look forward to engaging with everyday. Thanks to all the newness and learning attached to these interactions, my professional life is dynamic and fun.”
—Aakriti Agarwal, coach, facilitator, and image consultant, Hyderabad, India
Befriend your co-workers
“What helps me feel appreciated and satisfied in my job are the relationships I’ve built with two of my co-workers. We’re all on different teams and my friendship with each of them is completely unique from the other. I don’t always look forward to work, but there’s always a part of me that looks forward to coming into the office because I get to see them every day.”
—Melissa Muncy, content marketing, San Francisco, CA
“I started my company in 1981 and since then, our company has thrived. We have placed a high value on employee retention because it makes sense for a company that invests heavily on individuals’ training and development to hold on to that investment. This has created a culture of commitment to our team members and the work we do as architects. We stay inspired by encouraging appropriate risk taking, and knowing that we have a team to back us up — a ‘creative spotter.’ Risk taking and thrill-inducing activities can only happen when they are driven by curiosity. Curiosity-based risk taking leads to change and evolution in the individual and the firm.”
—Antonio Argibay, AIA, LEED AP, architect, New York, NY
Enjoy your successes
“I stumbled into the design field almost 25 years ago remodeling the many homes in which we lived. Designing kitchens and baths allows me to be creative, build relationships with my clients, partner with contractors, and get to know my suppliers. There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing a completed project and toasting with the homeowner to their new space.”
—Carla Gaeta, business owner and lead designer, Bernardsville, NJ
Learn new skills
“I stay excited and fulfilled in my long term job by continuously learning new skills and proactively seeking new experiences in my job through, for example, secondments and involvement in projects. In my last long-term job, which I held for nine years, I was involved in a secondment and several projects, all of which taught me new skills, introduced me to new people and colleagues, and expanded my knowledge greatly. The skills and knowledge I acquired in that job helped me to get into a different, unrelated role once I left, opening up a new career avenue. I think it’s important for any job, no matter how long you’ve been in it, to avoid ‘going stale’ by constantly learning new things, no matter how small. Small things eventually build to bigger skill sets.”
—Madylene Planer, knowledge management consultant, Sydney, Australia
Practice mindfulness and reflection
“I stoke daily excitement about my work by using work as a mindfulness practice — I bring my full presence and self-reflection to each person who sits across from me. I also diversify my work into harmonious yet diverse subjobs — I work with individuals, couples, and groups, supervise interns, lead study groups, create post-graduate training courses, and write. Lastly, I continue to learn — I study, apply, and teach the latest information in my field.”
—Candyce Ossefort-Russell, psychotherapist, Austin, TX
Develop an unquenchable curiosity
“I have been a career counselor since 2000 and I have intentionally sought out opportunities that have diversified my background. If you look at my calendar, you will see that I am in a webinar at least once a week and I am always finding new ways to expand upon my expertise. If I didn’t love my work, have an unquenchable curiosity, and seek out my own continuing education, I could easily become stagnate and bored. I choose to stay engaged and enthusiastic about my career. When I find that either are waning, I find something new to learn. Having things to look forward to outside of work, such as meeting family or friends for dinner, also helps recharge my batteries. Most of my day is spent listening, so I know that at the end of the day, I need a social network that listens to me, too.”
—Helen Godfrey, counselor, Houston, TX
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