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8 Ways to Recharge a Tired Old Job

8 Ways to Recharge a Tired Old Job

    There’s been speculation that as the economy recovers, many people who’ve been stuck in their jobs and unable to find new ones, will suddenly pick up and move to greener pastures. In contrast there are also predictions of a “jobless recovery,” which may mean being stuck in a lackluster job longer than these people (or maybe you) expected or would prefer. If that scenario plays out, it’s vital to recharge while still in your current job. Both near-term success and preparing for future successful moves make this essential.

    Having been in one company for way longer than I ever expected, I had to reinvent myself multiple times to stay sane, productive, and continue to grow personally and professionally. These 8 strategies can help you recharge your job if you feel you’re getting stale:

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    1. Document the lessons you’ve learned.

    Having been around the block a few times at your job you’ll have learned many lessons about what works and doesn’t in your profession, your company, and your industry. Thinking back on the strategic lessons you’ve learned provides an opportunity to start a blog, do presentations, record a podcast, or write an ebook. Sharing your knowledge in this way can build your stature with a broader audience to help pave the way for your next career move.

    2. Reuse, recycle, and revamp.

    If you’ve been a student of what you do, you should know a variety of techniques, models, and strategies that make you more effective. Having previously worked through them to understand what and how they deliver results, you’re in a unique position to begin tweaking them more aggressively. Rather than being stuck doing things one way over and over, you can modify certain elements to test for improved performance in subsequent uses.

    3. Simplify business models, processes, or messages.

    Mark Twain had a famous quote apologizing for the long length of a letter, mentioning he didn’t have the time to make it shorter. Most of us face the same challenge – it takes time to simplify things. Having been in your job for some time however, you’re in the perfect position to bring simplicity to your job and what your company does. Every business can use more simplicity. Take advantage of your tenure to create greater value by being the person who has the experience to make things easy, clear, and free of unnecessary detail.

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    4. Devote yourself to new learning.

    Smart kids who are bored with school get into trouble when they aren’t challenged. Same thing happens in careers, too. The difference is in a work setting, you typically have to find ways to challenge yourself. If your mental energies aren’t fully engaged currently, get yourself going mentally with additional reading, training, or just plain experimenting with new techniques in your chosen field. You’ll become even more valuable in today’s job and whatever lies ahead for you.

    5. Become a mentor.

    What better way to take advantage of expertise you’ve developed from having been in one place for a while than by sharing it with others in your company? It’s not only beneficial for another person; mentoring pays dividends for you as well. You’ll learn new angles on what you know through explaining it to someone else. You’ll increase the size of your “fan” base within the company. Ideally, you’ll also prepare someone to be your own replacement, helping free you for other opportunities inside your company should you elect to stay longer.

    6. Redesign your job.

    Use your knowledge and view of the business to identify areas where you can make a stronger contribution or fix problems that exist today. Document your thoughts and start introducing them to your boss toward redesigning your job. Just remember this: focus on the results and benefits you’ll deliver for the company, not on what’s frustrating you about your current position. Doing so will make your boss a lot more likely to hear you out and consider your proposal.

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    7. Find new ways to use your talents.

    If you’ve delivered results in your current job, you’re obviously known for the talents you possess. Build off that success to find new places to apply your talents inside your company. The key is to generalize what you do. For instance rather than thinking of yourself as a “finance person,” recast that as having “an aptitude for numbers and measurement.” All of a sudden, you might be able to look at a variety of metrics and monitoring-oriented positions such as project management, marketing analysis, call center management, etc.

    8. Be a bolder you.

    Early in a new job, you may feel pressured to dial back your personality to fit in. As you gain comfort, it’s time to introduce more of your personality into what you do. Are there talents, hobbies, or other passions you have which only get time and attention outside work? If so, look for ways to introduce those elements into your work. Maybe you’ve developed knowledge and experience in social media. Look for ways to bring that to your work setting to help drag your company into this century.

    Try these strategies while you’re seeking something better. You may improve your current gig so much that staying actually becomes viable!

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2019

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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