Why Is My Work Ethic Gone

frustrated with work

Once you start a new job there is an excitement and buzz about what the job represents and all the potential great things it can provide. Work means more money, and more money means bills get paid, but also, adventure awaits. And even though you may constantly take care of your responsibilities and have your fun, at some point work loses its appeal and you start to wonder, why is my work ethic gone?

Who Or What’s To Blame

In order to get the answer as to why your work ethic is gone, you’ll need to look to see who or what is the cause. Maybe you have a lot of personal issues going on outside of work and going there every day is draining; maybe the people there are negative and drain the excitement of the work experience, or maybe you’re just bored and need to move in. There are plenty of reasons your work ethic is gone. Here some key ones:

  • Feeling undervalued

  • Work/life balance is unbalanced

  • No longer passionate about the work

  • Not investing in your own personal life

  • Hours and pay aren’t working with your life needs

  • Coworkers suck

  • You’re just tired of it all

It’s important to know that your work ethic doesn’t just disappear instantly — it’s a slow process. There are two options once you realize your work ethic is gone: you can either find a way to enjoy work again in order to regain your work ethic, or you can cut your losses and move on.

Which Option Do You Choose?

In order to choose which option is best for you, try to reflect on the cause of your lack of work ethic and from there decide whether this is something that is within your control. Here’s a break down of each key reason your work ethic may be gone.

My Work Ethic Is Gone Because I Feel Undervalued

If you’re feeling undervalued there are only two things you need to consider: have you spoken to anyone about more responsibility and have you tried to ask for more responsibility and been ignored?

Feeling bored or stuck is a huge contributor to losing your work ethic. If your work seems easy and you’re no longer challenged, the drive to do better can quickly disappear. If you fall under this category let your manager know you have more to offer. It may not be an automatic promotion, but maybe you’ll start being assigned tasks that can lead to more responsibility down the line. The more you learn and become challenged while you’re working, the more interested in work you’ll be.

The second part is if you’ve tried to ask for more responsibility and no one has shown interest in fueling your desire. Success and enjoyment in life require growth. Growth at work comes from being challenged daily, tackling complex problems, having meaningful interactions, and being heard. If you’ve approached someone in higher authority and no one’s gotten back to you, it may be time to move on.

Granted, everyone who wants to take on more responsibility at work can’t, but you should always believe that no one is as proactive as you are. If you’ve tried once and haven’t heard any feedback, I approach your manager a second time. If after the second time nothing begins to open up, it’s time to start looking for a new role elsewhere. Even if it’s the same exact position, being in a new environment with so much more to learn will refuel your passion and bring back your work ethic.

My Work/Life Balance Is Unbalanced

During the last two years of getting my BA degree, I was working 40 hours a week while taking 18 credits. I was burning out! But I was able to balance school, work, dating, and enjoying life pretty well. I had a great schedule that allowed me to balance school and work during the day as needed and Sunday was my rest day — I literally stayed in bed all day (also because I had depression. lol). I worked as a stock associate in a clothing store, so most of my work required little to no thinking — I saved all of my mental energy for school. I also took naps in the stock room when I could, but I also got along with all of my coworkers — we worked for eight hours then went out to get drinks for four hours.

Life responsibilities never disappear and the challenge, regardless if you’re 18 or 50, will always be to balance work with your personal life. Your personal life should always be your priority because if things aren’t good within yourself, nothing else will be good either. So how do you find the perfect work/life balance?

In chapter 5 of my eBook Never Hide: Working Retail, Working Your Brand, I discuss the internal versus external conflicts of work and life. Internal conflicts revolve around work, while external conflicts relate to your personal life. An important lesson to learn is to never carry negative emotions over from one world into the next. This means placing a clear divide. This is also a general rule of thumb for life. If one friend does something that puts you in a bad mood, it’s unfair to exert that energy on another friend who had nothing to do with the situation. The same can be applied to work and life. If you’re having issues with your parents or spouse, it’s no one’s fault at work, so it’s unfair to staff, customers, or business partners if you bring negative energy into the workplace. And if you have a horrible day at work, it’s unfair to bring that negative energy home.

Work-life and personal life will always exist and regardless of what goes on in one, never let the negative emotions and experiences cross-contaminate the other. That’s the best work/life balance solution there is.

I’m No Longer Passionate About The Work

Sometimes work becomes boring — it isn’t your fault or anyone else’s. Maybe you no longer align with the brand and mission of the company, or maybe you’ve been introduced to something amazing and need to focus your energy elsewhere.

For eight years I worked in retail because I always found it to be fun and challenging — every day is different, you get to meet new people, and there are always complex problems to solve the higher your position is. But in year eight, I realized was no longer interested. In my final retail role as a general manager, one of my responsibilities was being a buyer and speaking with vendors. This involves shmoozing, small talk, and selling vendors on the idea of how great their brand is — things I have no interest in doing. So my realization was that I hit one of the most top roles in a retail company and I didn’t like what I would have to do, so I instantly realized there’s nothing more for me to accomplish in retail. I resigned and spent two years doing odd jobs looking for what I love. I found writing and that has opened up numerous doors for me.

What are you passionate about? Can your current job help you get there? If not, can you balance work with life and find time to build on your passion? If not, the next reason your work ethic may be gone can guide you.

You’re Not Investing In Your Personal Life

Not having work-life balance and no longer being passionate about your job tie into this reason your work ethic is gone. Realistically, everyone isn’t meant to accomplish their wildest dreams at work, and that’s fine. There are plenty of people who have jobs they mildly enjoy, but they use them only for the monetary benefits. Once they leave work, they invest in the various hobbies they’re passionate about, allowing them to have more to live for.

Regardless of the work you do, your personal life should be filled with three key investments: your health (mental, physical, spiritual), hobbies/passions, and healthy relationships.

If you feel mentally, physically, and spiritually beaten not only will your work ethic go away but so will your life ethic. Your brain, muscles, body, and spirit need exercise to keep you feeling healthy, motivated, and positive. The general word for this is personal development. This means enriching your life by reading topics that stimulate and challenge your thought process, exercising regularly, and finding some type of quiet time, be it meditation or just relaxing with music. Health has always been equivalent to wealth, and without a healthy mind and body, nothing in life will be enjoyable.

Your hobbies and passions are the acts and skills you want to learn or already enjoy. For me, it’s writing, exercising, reading, and video games (more of a past time late at night). Again, what are you passionate about? Once you discover your passion, set aside time daily to invest in it. Whether it’s a dedicated half-hour of writing in the morning, an hour of drawing and crafting, or hiking twice a week, once you realize your hobby/passion, put time into it.

Lastly, you need healthy relationships. Putting an effort to be around people who make you feel good about yourself, teach you new things, and support you is essential to life. Social media lets you connect with people anywhere, so there are plenty of sites and resources to find people who have mutual interests (meetup, twitter, reddit) online, which can lead to real-life relationships. You should never be too busy to spend time with people who make you feel good about life. This goes hand-in-hand with avoiding people who offer unhealthy relationships. Some people will always be part fo your life (parents, relatives), and if they offer unhealthy relationships, see them as little as you can for your own health and sanity.

Investing in your personal life makes work less more dreadful to deal with. In the past, if I was having a rough retail day, I would get through the day by imagining how great it’ll be to get to the gym later. If you have meaningful things to enjoy outside of work, your work ethic may not decline as fast.

Hours/Pay Aren’t Working With Your Life Needs

This ties in with work/life balance a bit too. Your work can be amazing but when you look at the needs of your personal life, the hours may be too draining and the pay may just not be enough — this can easily lead to you resenting your job and losing your work ethic. The pay is always going to be the pay. You may have a review coming up, focusing on the present, what can you do?

If your pay is decent but your hours aren’t enough, ask your manager what you can do to get more hours. Most likely everyone is asking for more hours, but you need to make yourself stand out to be the first choice. A few things you can do are:

  • Be more proactive in your work, which will show management you have more value

  • Ask for additional responsibilities that may require more hours

  • Tell your manager you need more hours and are open to taking some of their less important responsibilities to balance.

If your hours are great but even working 40 hours never seems like enough, your pay may be the issue. There’s never a reason to stay loyal to any company. As easy as you’re replaceable, so is that job. If you have at least two years of work under your belt, start looking for work elsewhere. Whether it’s the same exact role or one step higher, there’s always more money to be made. Prep your resume and reenter the job search market.

On the other side, maybe the pay is good and you’re getting too many hours and feel burned out. If you can afford it, ask your manager for a half-day once a week or fewer hours overall. The extra time off can help heal burnout — burnout can lead to frustration and a lack of work ethic if you feel you’re there too much. You’ll also have more time to invest in your passions ad hobbies.

Coworkers Suck

Who you work with can set the tone for your workday — this includes staff, managers and clients/customers. And sometimes these interactions become a consistent and daily drain on your life.

I’ve navigated through “challenging” coworkers by minimizing my interaction. Live by the old saying: keep it friendly, not familiar. This means smiling, nodding, supporting their thoughts and offering minimal verbal feedback. Do just enough to not be rude, but never do enough to get dragged into their world.

This also applies to customers and clients. If you know you’ve had a bad experience with someone before but need to interact with them regularly, get straight to the point moving forward. The quicker you handle their needs, the quicker they get out of your life.

You’re Just Tired Of It All

Sometimes you just get sick of it all: coworkers, minimal money, excessive hours, managers, customers/clients, and the overall environment. Plan your exit strategy at this point.

Maybe you’ve tried all the other solutions but nothing seems to work and nothing gets better when you step into work. That’s fine, it just means you need to go. Again, build up your resume and start looking for something new.

When It’s Gone It’s Gone

Like any unhealthy relationship, once something runs its course, it’s time to make your departure. Don’t be upset, never feel guilty, and always appreciate what you’ve learned from the job experience.

All of these tips are best for avoiding losing your work ethic. But once your work ethic is gone, sometimes it's hard to get back. Know where you are mentally with the job, and call it quits as soon as you can before it negatively impacts your life.

Need more guidance on finding your passion or balancing work and life? Contact me today for a free 30-minute Life Coach session.