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4 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Career

Stephanie Christensen

Media coverage regularly reminds us that unemployment rates are still hovering around 8%, but when you've lost the love you once had for your job, even with the knowledge that having one at all is a blessing, the bulk of your week is an uphill challenge. Before you write off all hope, focus less on what's lacking and more on shifting your lackluster perspective. Here are four easy ways to feel better about your job.

Set Your Own Goals
Your boss, peers, clients and the company you work for all have a say in how you spend your energy at work, but when was the last time you set personal goals that you'd like to accomplish in your job, based solely on what interests and fulfills you? Every job, even one that's a far cry from your dream career, offers opportunities for you to learn and improve your value if you take the time to identify what they are and how to apply them to your personal growth. Establish at least one professional goal you'd like to achieve each month, and identify how your current role can get you to that endpoint. Track your progress as you reach small milestones toward the end result, and keep a running tally of how far you've come. Not only will you energize your own purpose on the job, you'll have an impressive list of accomplishments to add to your resume. Knowing that you are in control of outcomes is empowering, and can reignite a sense of pride in your job.

Embrace the Temporary
Frustration often occurs because there is seemingly no purpose to the menial tasks a job requires or a relevance to your ultimate career goal. According to Donna Labermeier, author of "The Healers," constantly seeking meaning actually keeps you in a continually negative focus that blinds you to appreciating the potential for new opportunities. Instead of storming off in a huff the next time you're asked to make photocopies, open yourself to the possibility that, for now, this is the best place for you to be. When we learn to simply go with the flow and accept the present moment, amazing things can unfold. "People and situations are brought into our lives and take us down a perfectly-orchestrated path we hadn't even considered," says Labermeier. You never know what life-changing new connection you'll meet on that next coffee run.

Establish a Network
Being friendly with coworkers can help boost your enjoyment in an otherwise unsatisfying job, but the real value in networking isn't about being the popular person in the office; it's about creating an extensive network of peers to boost your future potential. According to the Federal Bureau of Labor, 70% of all jobs are found through ones' network of personal contacts. Keep your professional image at work positive and respectable. If you're given the opportunity to attend a networking event, business outing or to participate on a volunteer committee that will expose you to others in the company, jump at the chance. Exchange business cards with those you meet, and immediately connect with them via LinkedIn. As your network expands, but you'll not only have access to an invaluable database of resources, you'll be amazed at how much easier job searching becomes when you're working with a "friend of a friend."

Leverage What You Love
The Chinese philosopher Confucius is credited with the quote, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." Given that a 2011 Gallup survey indicated that more than half of American workers surveyed were "not engaged" with their jobs, that simple sentiment can be a big marching order. The key to making your passion part of your career, however, is finding creative ways to mesh both worlds. Consider your personal hobbies, interests and long-term goals, and explore whether the job you're in now presents any opportunity to integrate them. If you dream of working in advertising you can explore the opportunity to get involved in company meetings around marketing or social media initiatives. If you love to write or design, but work in an accounting job, you may find fulfillment writing or designing websites or blogs for established private CPAs and financial consultants.

The Bottom Line

Being stuck in a job you dislike can have a negative impact on every area of your life. Although you cannot control what happens at work, you can control your reactions. Use your job as a venue towards empowering other areas of your life, and see if your new perspective reshapes how you feel about work and how others treat you professionally.

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