A reader writes:
I feel like I lost my spark at work. I used to care a lot about the work I was doing and my team, but after a few really terrible projects and a new boss at work, I just can't muster up the same enthusiasm. I feel like not enough has changed at work to make me feel this way, so maybe I'm just not cut out for this job? I've been a PM for 4 years and have been at this job for just under 1 year.
I feel like I lost my spark, and then found it again, about 10 times so far in my career. So first, let's establish that it's totally normal to feel an ebb and flow of love for being a PM. It's a thankless job in a lot of companies, and often, the PM is in charge of stuff and not people, and people are the biggest wildcards to try to manage when they don't report to you. And projects can be set up to fail (like by having a shitty estimate, for example) so even if you were in love with PM and had a fantastic team who all worked well under your management, you could still feel pretty ineffective and less enthusiastic. Or you might not be cut out for PM.
What I think you have to do is just try to wait it out a bit and see if it's an ebb tide, or if you really have lost your spark and it's never going to be found again. Let me ask you this - is there something else you think you'd rather be doing? Are you sifting through timesheets dreaming of being a developer, or are you doodling on your notebook and wishing you were a designer? If so, maybe it really is not your calling. (But good news: any developer, designer, UX lead, account manager, or anyone else who started out as a PM is going to have a MAJOR leg up. Those skills never leave you!) But if you aren't wishing you were doing something else, I really strongly think it could just be a rut.
Or it could be your new manager. Are you getting the support you need? If a project is failing on you, is your manager helping you figure it out and making sure it doesn't keep happening? You don't have to have an actively horrible boss to not thrive. You can have an adequate boss that doesn't push your buttons, but that doesn't mean you're going to get what you need. And there are so many bad managers out there. So. Many.
I'd say give it another 3 - 6 months before you definitively say PM is not for you. In the meantime, try to figure out what parts of the job really bring you down. Is it timesheets? Timelines? Is it something that a tool could help automate, which would take it off your plate and make you more efficient? Is it something that another person on your team is super good at, and you could trade off tasks for something you do well?
And you may only need one good win to get that spark back, and you will wonder why you ever doubted your love for PM. Anything is possible!