IN MANY ways, a new job is like a love affair:

1. Excitement

The first stage is excitement. It can last from an hour to many years.

You think to yourself: "This job will pay me more money than I've ever earned before. The clients will be wonderful to deal with. I'm going to learn so much and do really exciting things."

The novelty of the job keeps your energy high. You are happy because you are so productive, and you are more productive because you are so happy.

2. Reality

Then the second stage, reality, sets in. You still enjoy the work you do, but you begin to notice some of the irritants and difficulties.

It bothers you that all the phones are ringing when you walk in the door. Deadlines seem endless and impossible. It becomes harder to arrive early or stay late. The novelty starts to wear off.

3. Disillusionment

And, like love, your job has a third stage too disillusionment. The pendulum swings past reality, and you find yourself focusing on the negative things.

That's when the "maybe's" begin.

"Maybe I could make better money at Company X, and not have to work so hard." "Maybe I'd be happier with more responsibility at Corporation Y." "Maybe Company Z would let me come in a little later in the mornings or go home earlier at night."

Rekindle your first love

In jobs, as in love, it is very important for the pendulum to swing back. You need to work to regain the exhilaration of the first stage. Such excitement is essential to a fulfilling life.

Think about what you did to keep the thrill in your love life.

Maybe the two of you relived your first date at that little country restaurant, or you thought to thank your loved one for being kind and generous.

Apply this same technique to your career. Rekindle the thrill you felt when you first began your job. You must have had good reasons for taking it.

What were they? Make a list of them and expect to experience those joys again in your daily routine.

Begin each day with a smile. Anticipate having a productive, stimulating day. Isn't that how you used to come to work in the morning?

If you really expect to be productive, almost nothing can stop you.

Here are some practical staying-in-love techniques:

* Have a good breakfast to give you the energy and protein which you need first thing in the morning.

* Dress with as much pride and attention to detail as you did on your first day of work.

* Start each day with motivated people who talk about the good things in their lives. Once a week or so, take the initiative to get up a little earlier and have breakfast with some of these people.

* Get to work as early as you can and spend some quiet time settling in before everyone else arrives. If this is hard, offer yourself some small personal reward. (Mine is that first lingering cup of coffee, all alone, while opening my very exciting e-mail.)

* Do what I call the "icky" things first. Even the most fantastic job includes tasks that are not much fun. If you get them out of the way, the rest of the day will fly by.

Make a list at the end of every day of what you learnt, what was the most fun, who was the most fun to interact with, and how you feel you added to your group's success.

Also make a list of the "beyond the pay cheque" benefits. If you only work for the pay cheque, you will be employed, but not "employable" long term.

There are many realistic ways to keep your relationships and your job exciting and challenging.

Ultimately, your happiness depends on how good you feel about yourself at work, in love and just living every day.

Try doing something nice for your job and yourself. Fall in love all over again!