Your performance at work used to be outstanding; now it's just adequate. You used to do more than your share; now you just get by. Your days used to fly by; now each hour drags.
We all experience slumps -- times when for no apparent reason our spiritual, intellectual and emotional energy plummets. When this happens during the cold months, we call it the midwinter blahs. When it happens around this time of the year, we call it spring fever.
If your ambition has taken a powder lately, spring fever might be to blame. On the other hand, if your lack of energy and ambition lasts longer than this year's daffodils, you may be in a serious career rut.
If 10 or more of the following 14 statements are true of you, it may be time to jump-start your career with night classes, a lateral transfer within your present company, more responsibility in your present job or a new job altogether:
* You're often envious of other people's accomplishments. You feel hopeless and helpless when you see other people succeed because you've come to believe that their successes are attributable to luck rather than effort.
* You've stopped reading about your industry in trade periodicals, local newspapers and the Wall Street Journal. You find it difficult to retain the information you do read and no longer take action when your reading generates an idea.
* You've stopped staying abreast of who the power players in your organization are. If you still know who they are, you no longer bother to keep in touch with them.
* You've let your outside business contacts slip. You no longer enjoy talking about your industry, so communicating with these people has become a chore.
* You no longer want your company's higher-ups to notice you. You don't want your less-than-inspired work to come under scrutiny, for one thing, and feel like a phony if someone compliments you because you know you're no longer the enthusiastic person you used to be.
* You frequently put your boss down -- to yourself and others -- and second-guess most of her/his decisions. You're resentful about having to follow her/his direction, as well, in part because you believe you could do a better job but will never get a chance to prove this.
* You used to feel energized and inspired listening to those in your organization who were more powerful than you. Now you feel bored.
* You don't take risks any more. Not even little ones. Why bother?
* You no longer socialize with your colleagues outside of work.
* Lately, you've been blaming the recession, office politics, your boss, your childhood, your sex or age or plain old bad luck for all of your mistakes and lack of progress at work.
* You often tell yourself that people who are successful must have had to sacrifice their integrity, their families, their individuality, their personal happiness -- something!
* You socialize more and more with people who lack ambition and are filled with excuses.
Questions and comments for Niki Scott should be addressed Working Woman, Features Department, The Sun, Baltimore 21278.