Let me set the scene. It is sometime after noon. The hypnotic hum of fluorescent lights, the drone of hushed conversations, the rhythmic tapping of keys. The thermostat nudged up to a cozy 75 degrees. Row after row of glowing screens. ZZZzzzzz……
Yep, this sleepy office sounds like the perfect environment for a slumbering bear to curl up for a long midwinter slumber. Sure enough, there he is. Blissfully snoring and oblivious to colleagues trying to get work done. No one wants to be the one to poke this bear — but maybe we should.
Be brave. Take a closer look at this snoring heap of hibernation. It has a familiar face — yours. How about that?
I will bet you did not plan to snooze away your career — or your life, for that matter. But complacency crept in like a cold front. Whether it developed from the rut of routine, avoiding organizational dysfunction, or fearing the inevitable verbal smackdown when you put forth a new idea. The sleepy, do-nothing office den is boring and safe. But it is also a trap.
Ahem. Time to wake up. Go ahead and growl all you want. But please, prop open your eyelids, get your paws on some strong coffee, and hear me out. Eventually the sunlight will wake you anyway. And hopefully it will not be after too many wasted winters.
In order to awaken the sleeping bear within you must:
Find your mojo
Have you lost your sense of urgency to pursue your true goals? It is high time you find it again. Dust off those plans and measure your progress (or lack thereof). If the goals you set no longer apply, then set some fresh ones that will inspire you to action and help you discover that lost mojo. All bears get hungry.
Get into the flow
When you check out, you miss all the action around you — including opportunities that could have been yours for the taking. So shake off your drowsiness and find ways to contribute. Catch up with the team, volunteer for projects, take a professional development course. Make up for that lost time.
There are no guarantees that each day will be more thrilling or challenging than the last. But even the most mundane tasks will become meaningful if you can connect them to the larger purpose of the organization. The simple act of persevering will build skill and character — and may lead to bigger and better projects down the line.
Seize every moment
Do you hit the mental snooze button, telling yourself you can always tackle tasks tomorrow — or the next day? Well, you have less time than you think. So stop procrastinating. Prioritize the most important tasks, then start contributing your best. You may surprise yourself — and others — when you see how much you can accomplish in a single day.
If you are not feeling challenged or engaged at work, your instinct may be to hibernate until springtime. But why are you burying your own potential?
The poet Mary Oliver wrote, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Know that the world will keep on moving and growing (with or without you) until you figure it out. So wake up, get your appetite back, and go feed yourself.
Search in earnest for passionate and fulfilling work. Sometimes you do need to lie down first to find it. But do not stay still for long. And remember — if you are going to be a bear, be a grizzly.
Have you ever seen someone hibernate at work?