By Margaret Steen, for Yahoo! HotJobs
What do you do when a job that you used to enjoy no longer excites you? It may be tempting to look for a new job or even a new career -- and in some cases, that is the best solution. But before you take such drastic action, consider some alternatives.
Seek New Challenges
You may be able to regain your enthusiasm for your job and prepare yourself for a promotion at the same time.
"Boredom could mean that someone isn't learning at the rapid pace that they once were," says Yvonne Blockie, a San Jose career counselor. Some professions change so rapidly that workers are always acquiring new skills, she says. But other jobs can become routine after an initial period of excitement.
Your boss can be your strongest ally in this effort. Explain that you're looking for new challenges and ask for projects that will stretch your skills (after you have finished your regular work). You can also ask coworkers if you can help with their projects.
"That really makes you seen as a team player," says Susan W. Miller, owner of California Career Services in Los Angeles.
Branch Out and Build Supplementary Skills
Perhaps the department you work in doesn't have any more challenging projects for you to work on, or maybe your boss isn't as helpful as you'd like. If you can do your job well on autopilot, that should leave time and energy for other activities that will aid in your professional development.
"You can take classes to build your skills to prepare yourself for a promotion," Miller says. "You can join a professional or trade association in your field and take a leadership role."
Focus On Life Outside of Work
Let's face it: There are some jobs that, once you've learned them, are simply not going to provide ongoing challenges. The work becomes routine and there are few opportunities for promotion. But these jobs may have other benefits, such as good pay and steady work.
Consider what really interests you. Perhaps you'd like to be a photographer or musician, for example. But if switching to that career would make it difficult to pay the bills, you may decide to keep your day job and focus your energy on activities outside of work.
"Work is not your whole life; work is part of your life," Miller says. "If you're in a job that's providing you with good income and you don't see a lot of options for yourself but you're bored, then outside of work you need to stimulate yourself."
Give Yourself a Break
How do you know which of these options is best -- or whether you need to consider a career change? If it's not obvious, one strategy is to try to take some time away from your job to think about it.
"Take your vacation," says Mike Beasley, owner of Career-Crossings, a career development firm in Portola Valley, California. "Go do something you want to do and get your mind relaxed."
After a break, it may be clearer whether you can find a way to be enthusiastic about your job again. "Boredom is just a message that you need to take stock and do something different," Blockie says.