Staying Inspired Through the “Work” Part of Work

Hi, I’m David, and I recently graduated with a Bachelors in Advertising.  I loved my time completing the major. It was very hands-off, and our professors gave us the creative freedom to build our portfolios however we wanted.  While in school, I was celebrated for choosing to study something fun, and was assured that my work experience would be just like my school experience.  I looked forward to work, where I would surely have the same flexibility, projects, and tasks as I did in school.

Fast forward to May 2021, when I accepted a job with OGK.  I was excited to start getting paid for something that I was so passionate about!

When I first started my job, I came to a quick realization that work wasn’t fun all of the time.  How could this be?  I’d studied what I wanted, I’d gotten a job where I wanted, and I was doing what I’d always wanted. I still found myself occasionally feeling bored, uninspired, or watching the clock. I was reminded of this old passage:

“Choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”

Why does it feel like work-work?

Well, I’d certainly chosen a job that I loved, so what was going on?! Why did some of this still feel like work work?

*Brief disclaimer: I love working at OGK, and the vast majority of my work is fun & fulfilling.*

Since I started, I’ve learned an important truth, which is that any job will naturally have some kind of work.  That’s right, I’m talking about work work.  There’s many phrases for this kind of “work”, but here are some of my favorites:

“It keeps the lights on”

“It pays the bills”

“It keeps the client happy”

If you hear one of these, then it’s a safe bet that it won’t be your favorite project.  But that’s okay!

There will always be ups and downs, fun projects and boring projects. It’s simply a part of working life.  With that truth in mind, it’s important for us to learn how to balance the ebbs and flows of work, and to be strong through the downs, so that we’re energized for the things we look forward to the most every day. Regardless of whether you’re experiencing creative burnout or just the natural ups and downs of a fast paced environment, I’ve come up with a list of tips that have helped me to stay inspired through the downs: 

Focus a few minutes every day on a fun project

There should always be some project that you’re excited to work on.  Imagine a dream project being dropped on your desk, and being asked to turn all of your time over to it.  You’d (hopefully) wake up excited to come into work, and the day would melt away as you focused on your project. You should have that level of interest and excitement in some aspect of your work.  Are all of your current work projects limited, or do you not feel as if they are challenging you to expand your skill set?  Then create a project of your own, one for a potential client, or spend some time learning new skills.  

Picking up an enjoyable project can show your employer how efficient you are when you’re passionate about your work. I do this by coming into work 15 minutes early every day, and spending that time working on fun, fulfilling, and beneficial personal projects. With that being said, showing how efficient and effective you can be even on a project that you don’t particularly find fascinating shows your character as a professional and your willingness to get the job done.

Set goals that help you realize your vision

When I feel down at work, it’s typically because my current project isn’t particularly fulfilling.  A big reason that “uninspiring” projects are so draining is often because they take the longest…and they often take the longest because they feel uninspiring. It’s a bit of a catch 22.  As someone who values progress and growth, these types of projects can make me feel as though I’m not really accomplishing anything or as if I’m “just going through the motions” at work.

One way that I’ve learned to combat these feelings is to set goals.  Through goal setting, I’m able to map out the type of work that I’d like to be doing, set hard deadlines, and share these goals with my boss. Sharing goals will show your boss that you care about your future, and it will also encourage them to utilize your talents to a greater degree.

Setting goals not only helps ease my fears of career stagnation, but it also gives me perspective about the present.  By looking to the future, I realize that there are plenty of opportunities to grow in every project I work on, and laying out what these opportunities are and how they work towards my goal allows me to stay motivated.

Remember your sources of inspiration

You started this career for a reason, didn’t you?  Do you still feel that sense of enthusiasm when considering your future in this career?  It can be easy to lose your spark when you’ve forgotten your inspiration. For that reason, I seek to surround myself with inspiring work. 

Something that I’ve done is create a library of some of my favorite work.  I assign helpful tags so that I can refer to it in the future, and study different types of work each week.  Because I work in the creative industry, it’s super important to expose myself to different ideas, thoughts, and art in order to keep a fresh perspective.  I find myself returning to these sources when I’m feeling burnt out.

Whether you’re in a creative industry or not, having sources of inspiration can help keep you happy. 

Temper your expectations, and stay positive

Every job has a bit of an ugly side.  Professional athletes often live on strict diets and have to spend hundreds of hours conditioning their bodies. C-suite executives are tied up in meetings and frequently struggle with work-life balance. Yet, these careers are glamorized and placed on a societal pedestal.

I’m not telling you to give up on your dream or to be content with harboring a negative attitude towards your work. I’m simply saying that there will be uninspiring, boring, or difficult parts of any job, and it’s okay to expect that. It’s okay to be content with finding some of your work not very exciting. That being said, you should always look to find the positives and opportunities in each project. If I’ve learned anything from being in the creative industry, it’s that no matter what project I am working on, opportunities to grow are there if you are ready to take them.  

We chose these paths for a reason

Ultimately, there will always be some workdays that aren’t the most fun, workdays that test your patience, and workdays that feel unfulfilling.  Don’t doubt yourself when these days come, but take solace in the fact that everybody feels this way from time to time, and that you will get back into your groove. We are more than lucky to be able to turn our passions into careers. It’s about finding and seizing opportunities when they are presented to you, and finding different ways to grow wherever possible. Follow these tips above, and you’ll be able to reignite that spark in no time.

If you want to turn your passion into a career, and work alongside some really amazing creative professionals, check out our job openings on our site.

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