Lost Your Passion For Work? It’s Your Fault (And How To Get Out Of You

Sushi chef Marl Robinson, Tsunami, is passionate about his work. (Image courtesy of Damira Maricic)

I once worked at a slaughterhouse. My job was sweeping up the blood that pooled on the floor. One day my manager asked me, “Why are you so happy and why do you work so fast? You have a dead-end job in a slaughterhouse.”

I thought carefully. “I’m just happy to have a job,” I said finally. “I appreciate the work because I’m saving money for my wedding and college. As long as I’m working here, I’ll find something I’m passionate about and try my best to excel.” It wasn’t easy, but I found passion in the fact that I was saving for my future — and I made that floor the cleanest floor the slaughterhouse had ever seen.

Are you bored at your current job and only giving half of what you are capable of giving? If so, there’s a good chance that you’ve lost your passion. And, while it’s unpopular to say, it’s mostly the result of selfishness. Here are four suggestions for getting outside of yourself and finding the passion in your career.

Proactively look for something you can get excited about.

“Passion [does] not exist in the job; it exists within us,” said Tina Su in an article titled “How to Find Passion in your Job.” “Either we find it in us right where we are, or we will never find it. Only within us can the passions of our soul shine through. The best place to start igniting that passion is where you are right now.”

If you are searching for that passion, it’s time to start exploring — within yourself and within your job. Are you passionate about helping a particular client? Go the extra mile. Did you read something that you can implement at your company? Write up a proposal and present it to your boss. Is there a niche that you really enjoy about your work? Become the expert.

“The beautiful thing is that if you ignite passion within you from where you are, the external world has a miraculous and magnificent way of rearranging itself to suit the new person you are becoming,” Su said.

Get outside your routine.

If you want to rediscover your passion, it’s time to expand your horizons. People often get stuck in their comfort zones and don’t want to expand beyond them. If this describes you, do things deliberately to break the boundaries of your thinking.

“Passion is rare; passion is a one-night-stand,” said Thai Nguyen in this article “7 Ways Successful and Fulfilled People Think Differently.” “Passion is hot, it burns. Every day, you can’t access that … but every single day in my life there’s something that I’m curious about — follow it, it’s a clue, and it might lead you to your passion.”

Sometimes breaking out of that box can actually be as simple as the cubicle you’re working in. “Believe it or not, your surroundings can make a big difference in your mood — and a tiny, boring, grey cubicle is not exactly the most exciting work environment,” said Whitson Gordon in his article “Top 10 Ways to Cure your Boredom at Work.” “Lighting can make a big difference, so a lamp or two can help out, as can better furniture. … Even a few plants and other decorations can make you feel more comfortable.”

If you have lost your passion, break boundaries in your thinking and your office environment. It’s your choice. You can decide to find your passion or not.

Ask how you can help.

Go ahead, ask your boss how you can help improve or grow the company. Asking how you can help not only helps to redefine your job description, but also shows that you’re a team player and interested in what’s best for the company. Your leaders may just give you more interesting and important work.

“Talk to your boss and see if you can negotiate a change in your job description,” Whitson said. “That way, you can work on things that are more interesting to you. Alternatively, see if you can institute some kind of ’20 percent time’ (where 20 percent of the day you can work on anything you like), or work on other projects that’ll be beneficial to the company.”

Part of my upbringing was working on a farm/ranch. I was taught that you literally don’t come home until the cows come in. That’s the extra mile. You wait until everything is done before you finish your work for the day. Today, it’s more about contributions and output than time, but the concept is exactly the same. It’s about what you can contribute, not what you can get.

Take pride in your work.

The best way to become passionate about your job is to create quality work that you can be proud of. That job well done will grab attention and can lead to much-deserved praise. Those compliments are a great way to further foster your passion. If you need some additional training to produce even better, high-quality work, sign up for some training on your own time. People will notice your improved skillset.

We have a favorite sushi restaurant. We order the exact same rolls every time we go, but it tastes different depending on the chef. There is one young sushi chef, Marl Robinson, who clearly loves his craft. And he clearly likes us. While the ingredients are the same, there is something about the way he prepares the roll that makes it taste better. He takes pride in his work, puts passion in his craft and his rolls are a cut above the rest.

If you have passion, you’ll be excited to head into work each morning. Your co-workers will notice your improved enthusiasm. You’ll come home happy, satisfied at a job well done, and your family will notice that pride, too. Give yourself the opportunity to enjoy your job, and bring back your passion.

Call to Action

Would you like to know more? You can follow my weekly Forbes.com columns on life, leadership and entrepreneurship here.

You can learn more about my company, Fishbowl Inventory, by visiting our website here. I look forward to hearing from you.

This column appeared originally on Forbes.com.