Have you lost that loving feeling?
It’s so easy to complain about our workplaces ….. demanding bosses, low pay, lack of appreciation, limited opportunity, high stress levels….. Or if you are in transition, looking for a job, you might find yourself complaining about not having work, no boss, no pay, no return phone calls, and yes, high stress levels.
Add to this the current political situation….state-of-the-world stress, discontent and distraction…. and we have a recipe for disengagement on epic levels. Fear, concern, uncertainty, anger, frustration – we are flooded with negative emotions. In this state, how in the world can we do our best work? How can we bring our professional best to our work everyday under this dark cloud?
It’s time to fall back in love with your work
You may not be able to control everything in your life or your day, but you most certainly can control how to respond to it. You get to choose your attitude. With a measure of mindfulness, you can increase awareness and choice over your nonverbal communication. And you can change your thinking on the spot – from hate to love, from hard to easy, from bored to having fun.
Just as in any relationship, it takes commitment and re-commitment to make it work. And while relationships are always two-sided, someone’s gotta take the initiative. Rather than waiting for your employer to announce the next employment engagement program, why not take the lead and re-commit to your work. Yes, I’m asking you to fall back in love with your work.
Simple strategies to help heighten your happiness at work
Here are thirteen ways that might help you reclaim that same great feeling you had when you landed the job and showed up on that very first day:
- Smile, laugh and lighten up. We take ourselves too seriously. Our faces and bodies are tight and constricted. We need to lighten up and invite levity to our day. Be the first to laugh at your own mistakes.
- Learn something new. Don’t be complacent with your knowledge, skills, or tasks. Take it upon yourself to be curious about trends and innovations in your industry, your profession, your market, and your organization. Do not be fixated on knowing all the answers. Learn to ask more questions. A curious mind is a beautiful thing.
- Volunteer. Your day to day work tasks may not fill up your happiness bucket. So find something else that will add to your overall contentment. Mentor a young person. Volunteer for a nonprofit organization, event, or program. Help someone else by giving your time and talent to a worthy cause.
- Network. Meet new people inside and outside your work area. Connect in person (not just on social media) and build new relationships and friendships. Go out to lunch or coffee with someone new at least once a week.
- Get creative. You don’t have to be a creative person or have a creative job to be creative. Creativity helps to enhance any and all work. Opening your mind to your work in new and different ways will help energize you.
- Express gratitude. Letting people know that you appreciate them will not only make them feel good, it will make you feel great. Gratitude is like a muscle, it grows strong if you exercise it. If you ignore it for long periods of time, it atrophies.
- Get physical exercise. Your mental health absolutely requires physical activity and fitness. Do it for love and energy, not just for weight-loss. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins that interact with the receptors in your brain and trigger happy feelings.
- Get outside. Fresh air, sunlight, green grass, wind, flowers, trees, nature – you need this to stimulate fresh thinking. Staying indoors for days on end will begin to wear down you and invite negative thinking and signs of depression.
- Take breaks. Step away from the laptop and digital device frequently. Studies show that 90 minutes is the ideal length of concentration on a project. Less than that, you are not likely to get any meaningful work accomplished. Any longer than that and you might burn yourself out.
- Power down. Reduce time spent on social media sites. Set boundaries and time limits. Avoid violence disguised as entertainment. Your media consumption habits may be affecting your work happiness.
- Dance. Move. Sing. Whistle. Skip. Someone once told me that you can’t be sad if you are skipping. It might look odd skipping to your next meeting, but who knows, maybe you’ll start a trend? And remember the seven dwarfs in Snow White? What did they do on their way to work?
- Avoid gossip and negative people. Just walk away. Do not engage, it will only make you more miserable in the long run. Remember that misery loves company. Negative people are always looking to recruit new people to make them feel justified in their negativity. They will suck you dry.
- Forgive. My morning tea bag (see image) gave me a great inspiration today. “People who love are forgiving.” In order for us to truly enjoy our work, we must forgive. Forgive the boss who passed you up for promotion. Forgive the client who stiffed you. Forgive the colleague who took credit for your idea. We have to let go of past wrong doings and start afresh. Forgiveness is essential for love to grow in any relationship, even at work.
What if you feel trapped in the wrong work?
I have heard this concern from many of my coaching clients. They feel like they aren’t doing meaningful work. They find themselves in professions and jobs that are unfulfilling to them personally. Their souls ache, and they don’t know what to do. They are afraid to leave their jobs out of fear of financial risk.
To these people, I often recommend the book “Work on Purpose” by Laura Galinsky and Kelly Nuxoll. This powerful little book is beautifully written, as it traces the lives of five young professionals who are pretty miserable in jobs/professions that they find themselves working just a few years out of college. They all chose career paths that either their parents or society said would bring them “success,” yet they find themselves woefully unfulfilled. Through a process of reflection and exploration, all of these young professionals reinvented themselves into new careers. It is very uplifting and something that anyone at any age could consider. (I also love to give this book as a college graduation gift!)
Love is a choice
I might be oversimplifying this, but I believe that we are all meant to be happy in our work. We can find joy and contentment by approaching our daily tasks with a new loving attitude. By recommitting ourselves to our relationship with our work, we can enjoy a much better experience on a daily basis.